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1939 Virginia 2022

Virginia Griffin

August 8, 1939 — June 6, 2022

Virginia Claire Wright Griffin, 82, of Richmond, VA, passed away on June 6, 2022. She is finally at peace after succumbing to the prolonged effects of several strokes. She was born at home to Onia Dell Huggins Wright and Paul Moore Wright on August 8, 1939, in Brighton, TN. She was raised on a farm where her family grew cotton, the fifth child and the oldest girl. She was studious and diligent and worked hard, often taking care of the housework while her parents and older brothers worked in the fields. She became the valedictorian of her class at Brighton High School and was awarded an academic scholarship to Union College (University) in Jackson, TN, from which she graduated at the top of her class with a degree in English. On December 21, 1958, during her winter break from college, she married fellow student Billy Eugene Griffin at Brighton Baptist Church. After college, they moved to North Carolina where she taught upper level English in Wake Forest public schools, and ultimately settled in Durham, NC, where she raised her family. She was an active member of Watts Street Baptist Church. She was a secretary to Billy when they both worked for Presbyterian Minister’s Fund Life Insurance Company and later was an administrative secretary in the Sleep Disorders Clinic at Duke Medical Center. After retiring, she and Billy moved to Twin Lakes Retirement Community in Burlington, NC. She found friends there and a church home at Elon Community Church. As Billy’s health began to fail, they moved to Roanoke, VA, to be near family and they resided at The Hermitage. Ultimately she relocated one last time to Richmond, VA, when daughter Kimberly and her family moved there. She is survived by her daughters Alison A. Griffin (Michael Leavy) of Mendham Township, NJ, and Kimberly Griffin (Gerald Bundy) of Richmond, VA; one incredibly loved grandchild, Nicholas Bundy; brothers Paul R. Wright of Brighton, TN, Garnett Wright of Jackson, TN, Carey Wright of Covington, TN, and Everette Wright of Winter Garden, FL, their spouses and a host of nieces, nephews, and their families. Virginia was predeceased in death by her husband Billy in 2016, parents Onia Dell and Paul M. Wright, eldest brother Harold Wright, brother Charles Wright, and sister Phyllis Wright Stimpson. Virginia was a religious woman, always seeking God’s will in her life. She had concern for people from of all walks of life. Through her participation with her church and other organizations, she campaigned for civil rights and nuclear non-proliferation and helped feed the hungry in a variety of ways including Meals on Wheels. She supported movements for human rights and dignity, including the Polish Solidarity Movement. To further her reach, she routinely wrote newspaper editorials and letters to politicians to lobby support for causes in which she deeply believed. Once on a family trip to Washington DC, she spotted Sen. Jessie Helms with some colleagues and she ran him down, got his attention, and pointedly asked him why he had not responded to multiple letters she had sent him, forever emblazing admiration and courage in her witnessing daughters. To her family, Virginia was a loving and attentive mother, wife, and sister, always looking for ways to help and support them. One of her superpowers was to make you feel loved and special, perhaps because she was an amazing listener and could empathize intensely. She encouraged her children to cultivate their talents and interests, and could always ask an insightful question that hadn’t necessarily occurred to them. She dedicated herself to her family and was an incredible mom. She loved being a grandmother and her grandson Nicholas was the apple of her eye. She had keen insights into him and his development, and was an especially astute admirer of his art. Her unbending love of her family never veered. To her friends and those who had the good fortune to meet her, Virginia will be remembered for her kindness, big heart, and beautiful smile. Although she was introverted and quiet by nature, she always lit up when meeting people, and wanted to know how they were doing and learn about them. Nicknamed “The Church Lady” by her husband, she enjoyed talking with folks at church so much that she was often the last person to leave on Sundays after the service. People were important to her and to know her was to love her, folks who just met her would always comment about how “sweet” she was. She was, however, more than sweet. Virginia had a mischievous side as well, evident in her not so subtle moments of cheating at cards and board games over the years. She also had the playful sense of humor that runs among the Wright family. She loved nature and worked to care for the earth and the environment. She started using cloth grocery bags decades before it became common, washed and reused Ziploc bags. Her principles of conservation and living simply inspired others to do the same. Virginia also loved dogs, music, singing, reading, and growing plants and flowers, her green thumb could bring the most wretched looking plant back from the brink. She delighted in flowers and made beautiful arrangements with them. Her penmanship was perfection. Virginia also lived with chronic pain and a depression that loomed in the background. She was stalwart in not letting these conditions prevent her from finding purpose and joy in her life. Her will to live was insurmountable. A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 10, 2022 at 10:30 am at The Family Life Center of Brighton Baptist Church in Brighton, TN, with burial at nearby Morrison Cemetery. A luncheon reception at the church will follow afterwards. The family asks to make a charitable donation in lieu of flowers to one of Virginia’s favorite charities listed below: Environmental Defense Fund 1875 Connecticut Ave, NW Suite 600 Washington, Washington, D.C. 20009 NC Council of Churches 27 Horne Street Raleigh, North Carolina 27607 American Civil Liberties Union 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor New York, New York 10004
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