Virginia Richardson Carroll, 89, died Friday, March 13, 2020 at her home in Columbia, Missouri. She was born Opal Virginia Richardson on July 31, 1930, in Waterloo, Alabama, to William Wiley Richardson and Winnie Lee Baugh Richardson. Her family of six, along with her maternal grandfather, John Johnson “J.J.” Baugh, moved to South Pittsburg in 1934. In early childhood at least, Virginia was something of a “tomboy,” known to friends and family by her given first name “Opal” or nickname “Bo” – and as apt to be caught helping her younger brother “John D.” get out of a scrape on the playground as learning female wisdom from her older sisters Ann and Inez. Shortly after World War II, she graduated from South Pittsburg High School, where she had played on the girls basketball team, and then attended Hiwassee College in Madisonville for several years with the benefit of a scholarship. Virginia possessed an independent spirit, which ultimately translated into a degree of involvement in the world of business and public affairs that was uncommon for a woman of her generation. After college, for example, she worked in Chattanooga as credit manager for Sears and Roebuck and Co., which sent her to Atlanta briefly to take business courses at Emory University. After having married James “Jim” C. Carroll of Chattanooga in spring 1953 and given birth to her daughter Pam in May 1954 and son Mark in August 1957, Virginia went into business with Jim as a house building contractor in budding Red Bank and Signal Mountain residential developments and also took employment as a manager of several local businesses in and around Chattanooga. In summer 1965, she became supervisor of the periodicals department, Gorgas Library, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, where Jim completed his graduate training in marketing. In the mid-1970s, while residing with her family in Lafayette, Louisiana, Virginia established herself as a successful antique dealer – and then as a comparison shopper with The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) and several other market research firms. After moving with Jim to the Mississippi Gulf Coast metropolitan area in 1981, she served several years as an appointee of the Planning and Development Commission of Long Beach, Mississippi, in charge of a clean-up-the-city campaign. Through her adult life, Virginia belonged to numerous women’s organizations and churches. At Hiwassee College, she joined Delta Delta Delta sorority; in Tuscaloosa, she became a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a connection she cultivated at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana-Lafayette), where Jim found work as a professor in 1968. While residing with him and her two children in Red Bank, she was a co-founder and then active member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Ashland Terrace. Thereafter, in Lafayette, Virginia became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); she and Jim joined the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Lafayette and, in Biloxi, the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. Virginia committed herself to civic and humanitarian causes well beyond those associated with her church life. While attending South Pittsburg High School, like so many civilians during World War II, she actively contributed to the war effort; one such campaign, it is said, won her the title “Scrap Iron Queen.” In Chattanooga and Red Bank, she involved herself in charity drives with Goodwill Industry and Salvation Army – especially in Christmas seasons. She sometimes served as a substitute teacher at Alpine Crest Elementary, Red Bank, and at Verner Elementary, a laboratory school at the University of Alabama. As a member of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO), especially after relocating to Lafayette, she participated actively in the projects of the organization to provide scholarships and other educational opportunities for underprivileged girls. Of at least equal importance, Virginia was a dutiful wife, mother, and family member. Like so many American women after the mid-twentieth century, she worked hard to balance the challenge of obtaining higher education, employment and civic engagement outside the home with homemaking, child-rearing, and, duty to family otherwise. She was an extraordinarily devoted and sacrificing wife and mother and, by the same token, a dedicated Parent-Teacher Association mainstay. But, in particular, she should be remembered for her strenuous labors as primary caregiver at home of her ailing mother-in-law Ivor Dubois Carroll until her death in 1967 and of her father-in-law Weaver McNeese Carroll until his death in 1971. She certainly personally cared for and lovingly doted on her two grandsons, Nicolas and Adam, whom Pam and her husband provided in the mid-1980s. Time and again, to the very end of her life, Virginia generously, and without a second thought, gave her time and resources to friends, neighbors, and family members in need, typically without making such contributions known to others. Virginia was an avid reader and student of history, excellent cook and seamstress, accomplished furniture reupholstery enthusiast, industrious landscaper and flower gardener, and capable household “fixer-upper.” But, for those who knew her well, she will be best remembered for her ebullient and creative sense of humor; banter and lively conversation; courage in the face of adversity; and commitment to speaking plainly and truthfully and the obligation and right of others to do so. In addition to her parents and maternal grandfather, Virginia was preceded in death by her husband, James Charles Carroll of Chattanooga; a sister, Christine Inez Richardson Killian of South Pittsburg, Tennessee; a sister Anna Lee Richardson Narramore of Tampa, Florida; and a brother John Johnson “John D.” Richardson of Winter Haven, Florida. She is survived by one daughter, Pamela Dubois Carroll Hess (David Hess) of Phoenix, Arizona; and one son, Mark McNeese Carroll (Renai Li) of Columbia, Missouri; grandchildren, Nicolas Anthony Joye (Elona Aaron) and Adam Christopher Joye, of Phoenix, Arizona, and several nieces and nephews, especially the children of her oldest sister Inez, that is, William “Bill” C. Killian, Mary Faye Killian Payne, James Michael “Mike” Killian, and Randall B. Killian of South Pittsburg. The family will receive friends for visitation 5:00-7:00 pm on Friday, March 20, 2020, at Lane Funeral Home, Ashland Terrace. Graveside service will be held at Chattanooga Memorial Park at 1:00 pm, Saturday, March 21, 2020. To send flowers to Virginia’s family, please visit our floral section. Arrangements entrusted to Lane Funeral Home – 601 Ashland Terrace Chattanooga, Tennessee 37415. (423) 877-3524 Lanefh.com
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