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Virginia S. Evans, South Hill’s ‘Doll Lady,’ passes at age 100

SoVaNow.com / May 14, 2014
A memorial service will be held today, May 14 at 11 a.m. for Mrs. Virginia Smith Evans, known locally as the “Doll Lady” who died Monday, May 12, 2014 at the age of 100. Services will be conducted at First Baptist Church in South Hill with Dr. Rev. Kevin Rosenfield officiating with luncheon to follow.

Mrs. Evans was born in South Hill on Feb. 6, 1914 and graduated from South Hill High School in 1931. She held a degree from Asheville Normal Teachers College in Asheville, N.C. and a B.S. degree from Longwood College. The B.S. degree was earned in 1963 at the age of 49. She was employed as a teacher in the Mecklenburg County School system for 28 years and taught elsewhere for several years.

During her tenure as a teacher, she never missed a PTA meeting, was a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma, Alpha Phi Chapter of South Hill, and in 1972 was listed as an outstanding teacher in the book, “Outstanding Elementary Teachers of America.” She loved her students, kept up with them, constantly writing them, family, and friends, sending encouraging cards and letters congratulating them on their accomplishments.

Mrs. Evans was a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church of South Hill and served as a Sunday School teacher for 30 years. She held the positions of Bible School director, WMU teacher, G.A. counselor, and Cradle Roll teacher. She loved her church and was adamant that their three children attend and be active in the church.

In 1989, Mrs. Evans, known as the “Doll Lady,” turned a lifelong passion for dolls into a source of great civic pride when she donated the majority of her immense doll collection to the South Hill Chamber of Commerce and established the Virginia S. Evans Doll Museum. Her love of dolls led to her completing a course and receiving a diploma in “Doll Technology” from the Lifetime Career Schools. The museum’s exhibits include over 500 dolls ranging from the famous Madame Alexander dolls, to “kewpie dolls” of the 1920’s, to celebrity dolls and exotic dolls from around the world.

Always the teacher, Mrs. Evans managed to include a few civic lessons in the museum as well. Another of Mrs. Evans’ civic contributions adorns the area of Buena Vista Circle and Chaptico Road. She wanted to place a memorial to her brother, G. Leonard “Puddin” Smith, a leader in civic, church and town affairs. In 1987 she received permission from the Town of South Hill to beautify a plot of town property at Buena Vista and Chaptico Road. Some affectionately called it “Puddin Park.”

Always one to keep active, Mrs. Evans began to travel and see America after her retirement. At the age of 72, she filled her car with camping equipment, a tent, and hit the road alone. She visited 48 of the 50 states chronicling her experiences in a book entitled “See the U.S.A. Through the Eyes of a Tent.” She donated a copy of the book to each of the five Mecklenburg County School libraries and one to the R. T. Arnold Library in South Hill.

At 78, Mrs. Evans packed her bags and moved to Palatka, Fla., and began another adventure in her life. She loved the ocean, warm weather, and became the resident gardener for the apartment complex where she lived. She loved flowers, considering them as one of God’s greatest creations. Until age 94, she divided her time between South Hill and Palatka, Fla..

At 100, she celebrated her milestone birthday with over one hundred family members and guests in February.

She was married to Benjamin Marvin Evans and has three children; Nancy E. Cobb (Tommy), Jean Clary Bagley (Carl) and Benny Evans. Her children, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren were the joy of her life. A truly gracious Southern lady, she was always smiling, a spiritual leader to many, and a lady, always, who lived her life with “gusto!” This obituary serves as her last letter to all those people she loved, encouraged, and who were such a wonderful part of her life and legacy. Thank you for being a part of my life, she would have said.

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