THE JOURNEY OF A FAITHFUL CENTENARIAN TRAVELER
On December 3, 2020, an amazing woman left our midst. Virginia Dennis Lee, “Aunt Virgie”, at 105 years on this side, became the traveler that John Magee reveals in his poem and “slipped the surly bonds of earth…to touch the face of GOD”.
Born on April 15, 1915 in Bunkie, Louisiana, she was the youngest of twelve children gifted by God to Elton Anderson and Rosie Lee Hopkins Dennis. Her parents and her siblings Emma, Moriah, Rosa, Isaac, Sallie, Pearl, Francis, Elizabeth, Anderson, Susanna, and Martha had gone before to pave the way for her arrival Home.
She attended the public schools of Bunkie and Houston, Texas. Virginia graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School in “Fifth Ward, Texas” on June 3, 1933. This proud Wheatley Wildcat attended Texas Southern University where she honed her culinary and entrepreneurial skills.
When she moved to Houston, Aunt Virgie united with Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. It was there she met and married her soul mate, Elmer Lee, “Uncle Sugar”, on May 28, 1934. After this union, her culinary skills were on full display and her entire family were the beneficiaries. She treated us to many gourmet meals and desserts, but nothing was better than her world famous coconut cake.
Virginia was an independent insurance agent for Atlanta Life Insurance for over thirty years. She was proud to work for the largest African-American owned insurance agency in the United States. She was also humbled by the fact that God allowed her to pursue her profession and her mission: to secure the future financial well-being of many underserved Houstonians. She loved her community and actively served as an elections precinct judge for many years. Her civic activities included membership in the Order of the Eastern Star and involvement in all things Hester House. She relished the friendships gained through interactions at this historic fifth ward community center.
Virginia was a dedicated, faithful and active member of Pleasant Grove for over 86 years. She worked tirelessly with many of the church programs, including her beloved Ruth Circle and the Women’s Senior Adult Sunday School. Prior to the current global pandemic, you could find her worshipping on Sundays at Pleasant Grove, sitting beside her dear friend, Dorothy Holcombe. She was grateful to have been blessed to be shepherded under the leadership of Pastors G. S. Sayles, A.A. McCardell, Dr. C. L. Jackson, and Dr. Sheldon L. Jackson. She was also proud of her lifelong friendship with her fellow member of Pleasant Grove, Susie Jefferson. Aunt Virgie cherished the many, many trips that they took together with members of their travel group.
When her soul mate, Uncle Sugar, transitioned before her, GOD blessed her with a daughter-niece, Doretha Thomas, who provided unconditional love and care throughout Aunt Virgie’s journey. She is also lovingly celebrated by her devoted nieces Helen Wheatley, Mary Williams, Johnetta Ashley, Dorothy Lackey, Patricia Fitch, Carolyn (Jimmy)Feggins, and Lannie Arrington; and her devoted nephews Dr. Johnny Ray (Brenda) Griggs, Reverend John Turner, and Daniel (Tarvia)Randle. Also, celebrating her rich, inspirational journey are many, many blessed great nieces and nephews, great-great nieces and nephews, great-great-great nieces and nephews, great-great-great-great nieces and nephews, and numerous extended family members and friends.