Virginia Anne Brittain Tew Kirkman, daughter of the late Basil Franklin Brittain and Mary Lorena Ballard Brittain of Asheboro, died in the 96th year of a full and vibrant life on 8 July 2012.
Eastern Star graveside services will be held at Guilford Memorial Gardens 10:45 a.m. Thursday, July 12 followed by a service of remembrance led by Jeff Kimel at the Pleasant Garden United Methodist Church at 12 p.m. A reception and celebration of life for family and friends will follow in the Reception Hall. The family will receive friends Wednesday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Lambeth-Troxler Funeral Home
Mrs. Kirkman graduated from Asheboro High School in 1932 where she was recognized as secretary and treasurer of the Alpha Society, vice-president of her class, reporter and photography editor of her class annual, member of the band and glee club, "Best All Around," and for completing her schooling with perfect attendance, and from Women's College (now UNCG) in 1937 where a bout of the mumps spoiled her continued perfect attendance in her senior year.
Her early married years were spent in Newport News, Virginia where husband Oliver Conrad Tew was employed building ships for the navy and merchant marine during Would War II.
After their return to Greensboro and the birth of their son, Christopher, she joined the Bank of Greensboro, working alongside James Bishop, Walter Short, Owen Bass, and Ray Mowery as secretary of its Farm Department, North Carolina's only banking division devoted solely to the needs of farmers. She also worked for the bank's successor, First Union National Bank. Meanwhile, Conrad held sales positions with Carolina Steel and Benswanger Glass. He was later manager of the Monticello Country Club, an interim Postmaster at Browns Summit, and then Postmaster at McLeansville until his death.
She delighted in the company and comfort of family and friends and treasured her individuality and independence. She proudly renewed her driver's license at the age of 92 and drove for a year afterward.
She was a former member of the then Hines Chapel United Church of Christ and, following her marriage to Samuel Rankin Kirkman, became a member of the Pleasant Garden United Methodist Church where she was fondly called "the Hat Lady" for the colorful though proper hats she wore to services. She was a regular greeter before services, provided transportation for other seniors, and particularly enjoyed special musical services and children's participation. She valued her many friends and associates in the "Art of Living Club" and in senior activities at Burnett's Chapel UMC. In retirement she served her community as a member of Meals on Wheels from its inception through 25 years of service. She was a member of the Guilford Chapter No. 141 Order of the Eastern Star.
As part of her life with Sam she renewed her interest in golfing and enjoyed sharing golf outings and trips. She also enjoyed playing bridge with Sam and friends, in the Couples Bridge Club and the Thursday Bridge Club, because they usually understood the rules the same way she did. She canned Sam's garden vegetables in the summer and baked wild persimmon pudding in autumn.
She later became a devoted bowler, joining the Late Bloomers Bowling League where she often served as secretary, also, Friendly Ladies and Early Birds Bowling Leagues. She wore out and had rebound a crossword puzzle dictionary full of the handwritten words and definitions she accumulated over the years.
Her most satisfying gardening effort was a trumpet plant that re-seeded itself year after year for decades.
She was interested in and amazed by her son's professional and musical achievements, and she admired her daughter-in-law's scientific and business acumen. She especially treasured her acceptance by Jane Kirkman Kimel and the late Joyce Kirkman Russell, Sam's daughters, and by their husbands, Gene Kimel and the late Michael Russell. She delighted in family get-togethers, especially at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, and in Sam's grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the Brittain family grand and great-grand nieces and nephews, all of whom marveled at her ability to keep their names straight and remember their birthdays.
She was preceded in death by her sisters, Florence B. Bates of Winston-Salem and Millicent B. Palmer of Greensboro; her niece, Mary Martha Palmer of Greensboro; her first husband, Oliver Conrad Tew of Greensboro and McLeansville; and her second husband, Samuel Rankin Kirkman of Pleasant Garden.
She is survived by her son, Christopher Conrad Tew and his wife Laura Braxton Tew of Greensboro; nephews Gam D. Bates, Jr. and his wife Robin of Winston-Salem and his children; H. Vestal Palmer, Jr. and his companion Judy Conover of Greensboro; and James F. Palmer of Greensboro and his children; niece Patti P. Morgan and her husband Bill of Greensboro and her children; and by cousins Dorothy Peeples Andersson and Laura Peeples Tew of Oak Ridge.
The family expresses sincere appreciation for the love and concern shown by the descendants of Sam Kirkman and for the love and devotion of her dear friend B. J. Miller.
Lambeth-Troxler Funeral Home is assisting the Kirkman family. The obituary and online condolences may be viewed at www.lambethtroxler.com