Virginia Neal

Virginia Copeland Neal, 94, of Chattanooga, died on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Virginia was born Dec. 30, 1919, in Chatham County, N.C. where she grew up with eight brothers and sisters on the family farm. After graduating high school, she moved to Chapel Hill and worked as a cashier in Lenoir Dining Hall at the University of North Carolina. It is there that she met returning WWII veteran and student, William A. Neal Jr. They married a short time later. Upon Bills graduation from University of North Carolina in 1948, they moved to Sanford, N.C., where she lived for the next 64 years. In 1956, Bill was confined to the VA Hospital in Oteen, N.C., with a service related disability leaving Virginia to raise their two sons. She learned to drive a car, became a Cub Scout den mother, and mentored their sons in cooking, laundry, household chores and school work. She washed muddy football uniforms, tolerated squeaky clarinet practice, out of tune guitars, and loud drums, all the while working to support her family. Virginia retired from Heins Telephone Company after many years as a long distance telephone operator. "Ginny" had a very loving and generous spirit. For many years, she baked nine loaves of sour dough bread every week, kept one loaf, and gave the rest away to friends, neighbors, and to her church for communion services. She made hundreds of crystal angel ornaments that continue to adorn families, friends and churches Christmas trees. She twisted wires and strung beads until her fingers bled, but she loved making them to give away. Virginia attended Buffalo Presbyterian Church in Sanford before moving to Chattanooga to live with her son in February 2012. She then attended GraceWorks Church in Chattanooga until she was no longer able due to her declining health. When she became a resident of Consulate Health Care in April, 2013, she faithfully attended Monday night services every week with Brother Mike Cross and the Pine Ridge Baptist Church and every Tuesday night with Pastor Sam Dillard and the New Bethel Baptist Church. She loved these choirs and the old traditional hymns they sang. She was preceded in death by husband, William A. Neal Jr. in 1965; brothers, Gordon, Baxter, Hulon, Chester, and Graham; and sisters, Otis, Lillian and Marie. Survivors are her two sons, Bill (Debbie) in Chattanooga, and Charles (Robin) in Gilbert, Ariz.; granddaughter, Jennifer (Jeff) Walker; and great-granddaughter, Emily Walker, all of Ooltewah; granddaughter, Jennifer Neal, and grandson, Patrick (Heather) Neal, all of Sanford, N.C. She is survived by several nieces and nephews, who have stayed close to her and loved her as she loved them. Virginia, Bill and Debbie were blessed with two gentle and loving caregivers, Vivian Sorrell and Doris Jean Lewis, who became family and made it possible for her to remain at home much longer than would otherwise have been possible. She was then blessed again with extraordinary care and love of the Consulate Health Care staff since April, 2013. The family will receive friends from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2, at the East Brainerd Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, 8214 East Brainerd Road. A memorial service will be held at Buffalo Presbyterian Church in Sanford, N.C., at a time to be announced. Burial will be at Buffalo Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that memorials be made to Buffalo Presbyterian Church, 1333 Carthage St., Sanford, N.C. 27330; GraceWorks Church, 6445 Lee Highway, Chattanooga, TN 37421; Pine Ridge Baptist Church, 9109 Pine Ridge Road, Ooltewah, TN 37363; New Bethel Baptist Church, 1635 Salem Valley Road, Ringgold, GA 30736; or Avalon Hospice, 7625 Hamilton Park Dr., Ste. 19, Chattanooga, TN 37421. Please share your thoughts and memories at Arrangements are by the Chattanooga Funeral Home Crematory & Florist East Brainerd Chapel, 8214 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421.

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