May 4, 2023
On the evening of April 17, 2023, Virginia Mitchell Edwards died suddenly in her home and was reunited with her late husband Col. (Ret.) Ollie Herbert Edwards and her Lord.
Virginia was born in Pheba, Mississippi, on October 30, 1936, and grew up and attended school in nearby West Point. Her mother, Lena Mae Mitchell, was a tremendous influence with her kindness, love and many talents, including sewing. Virginia learned to sew skillfully from her mother and applied those talents to her daughters’ school and Sunday school dresses, and costumes for Halloween and plays. She also had a passion for oil painting and writing poems and short stories. She had short stories like “My Summer with Patsy and Dale” published in the popular “Chinaberries and Blackbirds” (in 2012) and other regional literary anthologies.
She graduated from West Point High School in May 1955 and married 2nd Lt. Ollie Herbert Edwards the next month, on June 18. Ollie Herbert was her high school sweetheart, love of her life, and beloved husband of 65 years. Virginia and Ollie lived an Air Force life for the next twenty-two years, living in Little Rock, Arkansas; Merced, California; Columbus, Mississippi; Fairborn, Ohio; and Auburn, Alabama. During those years Virginia was an active and supportive Air Force wife, raised three children, and attended both Auburn University and Wright StateUniversity, graduating in 1977 from Wright State with her Bachelor of Education Degree in English and Journalism. Once they retired from military service and moved back to Auburn, Virginia received a Master of Education degree from Auburn University. The daughter of a schoolteacher, Virginia always had a passion for teaching and young people. After the Air Force years, Virginia taught high school English and Journalism for twenty years. She taught for two years at Hurtsboro High School and seventeen years at Notasulga High School, retiring in 1996. During her teaching career, Virginia won numerous awards, being recognized as Notasulga Secondary Teacher of the Year (four times); Macon County Secondary Teacher of the Year; Tuskegee Optimist Club Recognition Award; Phi Delta Kappa Award for Excellence in Teaching; and AlabamaScholastic Press Association Journalism Advisor of the Year. She was very proud of the Notasulga High School yearbook that she was in charge of for many years. Despite her recognition as an exceptional teacher, she always felt that her greatest accomplishment as a teacher was the respect, admiration, and love from her students. One only has to talk with her former students, or read their written tributes on social media, to hear the outpouring of love and the impact she had on so many young lives.
In addition to loving her students, Virginia had a gift for making friends and staying in touch with them through the years. She had strong beliefs regarding what was important in life – Faith, Family, and Friends. “She loved everyone,” so many friends have said. She was optimistic, didn’t sweat the small stuff, believed “Let go and let God” and rarely ever got in a hurry.
Virginia was always very active in church — Lakeview Baptist and most recently Auburn United Methodist – both in Auburn, AL. She attended McGehee-Lacy Sunday School class, several Bible Studies, including the J.O.Y. Bible study where she served as leader, and recently served on the Administrative Board of AUMC. Her Christian faith was always a priority for her and a huge part of her life.
Despite her success as a teacher and her involvement in church, her greatest joy was her three children and watching them grow into successful, responsible adults. She loved being a mother and a grandmother, and she will be deeply missed by them.
Virginia is survived by her children, Sherry Edwards of Alpharetta, GA, Gary Edwards (Anna) of Marietta, GA, and Candy Edwards Avera (Dave) of Auburn, AL. She and Ollie Herbert have five grandchildren, Garrett Edwards, Lena Avera Cooper (Drew), Meredith Avera, Sydney Fulghum and Caty Avera Nation (Sean); her brother-in-law, Bobby Edwards; many nieces and nephews; and her beloved cat, Hallie.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Col. (Ret.) Ollie Herbert Edwards, who passed in 2020; and by her parents, Eulan and Lena Mae Mitchell; and two brothers, Calvin Mitchell and Kirby Mitchell.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on May 13, 2023, at 1:00 PM in the chapel of Jeffcoat- Trant Funeral Home in Opelika, AL. Interment will follow at Auburn Memorial Park Cemetery, Auburn, AL. A time of visitation with family will be held following the services at the family home.
To honor Virginia Edwards, please send any memorial gifts to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Lupus Foundation of America, or a charity of your choice.