Remarkable woman remembered as a ‘good piece of company’
Jane Blackwell didn’t live her entire life in Heathsville, just 89 and half years of it.
Blackwell, who was Northumberland County’s registrar of voters for more than 20 years before she retired in 1994, died Saturday at the age of 90.
She’d come to Heathsville from Lynchburg as a six month-old infant when her father, Clifford Hubbard, became the county’s first extension agent.
The oldest of four children, she “couldn’t believe she was the last one standing,” her daughter, Northumberland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jane Wrightson, said Monday.
Wrightson said that her mother had been in good health until around Christmas when she had an illness and started declining. She died at the family home, “Belleville.”
In 1954, Blackwell had come home from Williamsburg and discovered that her husband, Woodley Blackwell of Remo who was working for Colonial Williamsburg, had passed away.
“He died in May and I was born in August,” Wrightson said.
Once home, Blackwell took a job as deputy clerk under Clerk of Court Emmaline Hall until becoming the registrar.
“She was dedicated to her work and really took pride in creating a modern registrar’s office,” Wrightson said.
Blackwell may have retired from public service in 1994, but she was kept busy looking after her grandson Ben, who was four at the time, whose parents, Wrightson and husband Charlie, both worked.
Blackwell loved fishing, crabbing and gardening. Some of Wrightson’s earliest memories are of her mother standing in the bow of a wooden skiff with her long handled crab net early in the morning catching soft crabs in Rogers Creek.
As to gardening, “She liked nothing better than digging in the dirt,” Wrightson recalled.
Blackwell was a dedicated member of St. Stephens Church in Heathsville where she served as senior warden and president of the Episcopal Church Women. She also volunteered with the local Red Cross, organizing blood drives and giving swimming lessons at VirMar Beach.
Until recently, she volunteered in the elementary school’s Reading Partners program, Wrightson pointed out.
Blackwell was what used to be called a “good piece of company,” Wrightson said, adding that she went on several memorable trips with Blackwell, her grandmother, Nancy Griffith, who’d grown up in Heathsville with Blackwell and Griffith’s mother, Brent Walker.
There will be a service for Blackwell Saturday at 11 at First Baptist Church’s O.A. Brinkley Hall. She will be interred at home, at Belleville.