Lora Edith Henry Whitaker was born in Snowflake, Virginia in a two-room house on the side of a mountain, June 11, 1922. She was the 8th of 10 children born to Napoleon Bonaparte Henry, Sr. and Bertha Hannah Steffey Henry. Growing up on a farm meant that work started at a young age. Edith did not know the depression happened until she studied about it in high school because they were poor and raised all their own food.
Edith attended the two-room Greenwood School. She attended high school at Shoemaker High in Gate City, Virginia. She took one year off from school to work and support family, then returned and graduated in 1941. In her formative years, she was called to the family of God and placed her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as her savior. It was an event that would provide strength for the joys and heartaches of life as well as eternal hope for the life to come.
Soon after graduation, WWII broke out and she worked to support the war effort. Initially, she worked at a facility in East Tennessee that may have been part of the Manhattan Project. However, she found that work too boring, so she went to work at Radford Arsenal in Dublin, Virginia sewing and packing bags of gunpowder! When the war ended, so did the work – immediately.
During Edith’s time working there, she met a woman from Richmond who invited her to come to the “big city.” Out of work and not wanting to go back home, she bought a bus ticket and headed to Richmond. She said it seemed like the whole world was available just by going out the front door and boarding a streetcar!
Edith took several jobs, one of which was at the A&P Bakery on Petersburg Pike near Cofer Road. There, she met Dorothy Burton, who was to become a lifelong friend. Marriage came in 1948 and the first child took her from the workforce in 1949 until the second child was about 5 years old. Edith then found a job managing the Fanny Farmer candy store in Willow Lawn shopping center.
Even with a full-time job, Edith never neglected her family and home. She taught her two sons to take care of things and help with the cooking. She nurtured their spiritual growth with regular family Bible reading and devotions. She always found time for the most important things.
Her friend, Dot Burton, was hired at the Stanley Home Products distribution center on Summit Avenue in Scotts Edition. She suggested that Edith join her, so the friends were reunited in their work. Several years later, Stanley moved to a new warehouse just off Staples Mill Rd. Edith remained employed there for 22 years and helped close it down when they consolidated operations in Charlotte. During this time, the boys grew up and established homes of their own.
Edith found her way to retail work through a part time gig at Thalhimer’s Westmoreland. When Stanley Home Products closed, she was offered a full-time position and eventually accepted – working in Juniors, Women’s Accessories, and Children’s departments. Twenty-eight years later, she retired. However, for the next 10 years, she wished for a job to work. She did use her green thumb on her yard and had one of the most beautiful yards in Lakeside with redbud, dogwood, azaleas, roses, and many other blooming plants.
Edith remained very independent and continued to live by herself in her home into her late 90s. Advanced dementia finally necessitated that someone be with her most of the time. Family and care givers helped for several years until it was no longer possible. At that time, she moved into Wellsprings Amelia Nursing and Rehab Center where she was cared for and loved. Even then, she continued to try to help others, helping to decorate for Christmas 2020. On January 2, 2021, she passed into the loving arms of her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We love and miss you, mom!
She is survived by two sons, Michael of Blackshear, GA and Patrick and wife Maryann of Goochland; granddaughters Kimberley Kready and husband Kris of Powhatan, Angela Caldwell and husband Jed of Chesterfield, and Jamie Brennan and husband Ben of Abington, MA; grandson Brian Drysdale of Henrico; great grandsons Jacheob Weaver, Drew Caldwell, Everett Brennan, and Phyllip Parsons; great granddaughter Lilly Parsons.
A graveside service will be held Monday, January 11 at 2 pm. at Greenwood Memorial Park.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, January 16, 1 pm, Sycamore Presbyterian Church, 510 Coalfield Road, Midlothian, VA.