“Our Mom, Virginia ‘Jinks’ Holton, passed away peacefully this morning, surrounded by family, in her home at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury in Irvington, Virginia. She was 97 years old. Our Dad, Governor A. Linwood Holton Jr., her husband of 67 years, passed away in October of 2021.
“Mom was a partner in what she and Dad forged into the family business: racial justice and civil rights for all Virginians. She and Dad together decided, when he was Governor, that our family would help integrate Virginia’s public schools, tearing down barriers to employment, and opening opportunities for all.
“Mom embraced community service as a mission, a passion, and a joy. She was a regular volunteer on Habitat for Humanity builds, from South Dakota to South Africa and all over Virginia. She helped usher in the era of women at Washington and Lee as the first woman to serve on the University’s board. Mom was a staunch supporter of children‘s causes throughout her life, most recently helping found the Northern Neck Court Appointed Special Advocates. She was deeply involved in her beloved Grace Episcopal Church. As First Lady of Virginia, she led efforts to improve nutrition for Virginia’s children. The list goes on and on.
“Mom also had a passion for the world – she spoke French, German, and Russian. After college, she spent two years in Belgium. She told her parents she was a secretary at the embassy – in fact, she was working for the precursor to the CIA, running intelligence agents as the U.S. worked to manage the post-war complexities of Europe.
“On top of all this, to us she was Mom. She helped us with school work. She drove us to music lessons and sports practice. She made us molasses cookies and chocolate silk pie. She taught us the values and priorities of family and community and justice that have shaped who we all are – and in turn shaped our children.
“Mom passed away with the love and warmth and joy of life that she shared with us her whole life: last week she hosted us for a happy hour with Rappahannock River oysters and Virginia Gentleman, this week she hosted us in reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – a family tradition for over 90 years – and joined us in declaring at the end, ‘God bless us, every one!’ Truly God has blessed us to have shared Mom with us.”