Virginia Hitt Patterson, 95, of Lewisburg, died Monday, Aug. 15, 2011, at Alive Hospice in Nashville.
She described her 18-month colon cancer journey as a "rough road." She traveled that road well, never allowing pain or physical decline to diminish the light of her humor, courtesy, kindness, intelligence and curiosity.
Born July 31, 1916, in Savannah, Tenn., her parents moved their eight children to Murfreesboro when Virginia was a teenager so that all eight of them could attend college at what was then Middle Tennessee State Teachers College. After graduating with a certificate to teach English, Latin, Science, Math and Home Economics, she began her working career as a home demonstration agent (what we now call county extension agent) in Carthage, Erin, and finally Lewisburg, where she met and married James R. Patterson in 1947. She stayed home to raise three sons until the youngest was in 1st grade. She then began teaching 7th grade math for most of her 25 years as a Marshall County schoolteacher. She endeared herself to students across three decades with a reputation of being both strict and fair. While she occasionally paddled students in front of the entire class when they misbehaved, they usually smiled throughout the entire punishment knowing they had earned it. Her life's greatest sorrows were the drowning death of her youngest son, Ralph Wallace Patterson at age 14 in 1967 and her husband's death in 1976. Her greatest joys in 30 years of retirement were honing her intellect with reading, crosswords and Jeopardy and indulging her passion for cooking, vegetable gardening and traveling all over the country with long-time friends.
In addition to her son, Ralph, her husband James R., she was preceded in death by her parents, James E. and Josephine Meredith Hitt of Murfreesboro; six siblings and one nephew.
She is survived by her sons, James K. Patterson of Nashville, and Dr. John A. Patterson of Lexington, Ky.; one brother, John D. Hitt of Lascassas; five nieces; two nephews; great-nieces; great-nephews; great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews.
Funeral services for Mrs. Patterson will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, from the chapel of Bills-McGaugh Funeral Home in Lewisburg, with burial in Lone Oak Cemetery in Lewisburg.
Visitation with the family will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, at the funeral home, 755 Yell Road.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Marshall County Retired Teachers Scholarship Fund or the Marshall County Memorial Library.