OBITUARY: Virginia Gress Stovall


Virginia Gress Stovall, a longtime Nashville resident who devoted her life to family and public service, passed away on June 22, 2024, at Alive Hospice. She was 96 but remained young at heart until a mercifully brief battle with cancer. Many people knew her as Ginny, though relatives — especially the younger set — called her Gilly.

She was born in Pitcairn, Penn., near Pittsburgh, then moved as a youngster to the small northern Florida town of Crescent City. There she played on a powerhouse high school basketball team and volunteered as an airplane spotter during World War II. Her father was a Presbyterian minister, while her mother held numerous church positions and worked as a legal secretary.

Virginia came to Tennessee to attend Maryville College, where she majored in sociology and graduated, with honors, in 1949. That same year, she married Thomas F. Stovall, whose ensuing career in higher education took them to Minneapolis; Tampa; Richmond, Ky.; and finally, in 1972, Nashville. Along the way, they raised three sons.

Generally upbeat and seemingly tireless, Virginia pursued numerous interests in recent decades. She cared for grandchildren and great-grandchildren; taught preschoolers at Belmont United Methodist Church and elsewhere; served as a “pink lady,” helping hospital patients and their loved ones; collected and dealt antiques; cooked up a storm for family, friends, and bed-and-breakfast guests; did civic duty as an election poll worker; and cared for her husband as his health failed. Well into her 90s, she volunteered at This-N-That Thrift Shop, which benefits St. Luke’s Community House, one of Nashville’s oldest charities for the poor.

Survivors include her sons, Howard (Robin Stovall) of Lexington, Ky., Tom (Marsha Luey) of Nashville, and Jeff (Adria Bernardi) of Nashville; grandchildren, Melissa Horsell, Mark Stovall, Chara Stovall, Hannah Johnson, Molly Hegwood, Tess Stovall, Jacob Stovall, and Isaac Stovall; and seven great-grandchildren.

They invite the public to an informal memorial gathering from 4 to 6 p.m. on Aug. 2 at Bennett Hall, on the Scarritt Bennett Center campus. A private burial will occur in Huntland, Tenn., the hometown of Virginia’s late husband.

Please consider a memorial donation to St. Luke’s Community House and Alive Hospice.


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