Virginia Joyce Dooley Rawlings, (Joyce), a Southerner with a capital S, passed away peacefully at Hillcrest Convalescent Center early on April 15th. She was 87 years old. Born and raised in the south, she loved her “ciggies” with a good cup of coffee and was never shy about voicing her opinion but as a true southern woman, she was gracious, possessed quick wit, and continued to hand -write thank you notes despite the ever- changing societal norms and conveniences of email.
Joyce was born in Crossville, Tennessee, the daughter of the late Dr. Walter S. Dooley and Mrs. Lily Gernt Dooley, whose family was originally from Dresden, Germany. Strong values, work ethics, and empathy for those less fortunate were instilled early on as she accompanied her father, who was the town doctor, occasionally in the middle of the night to the outlying rural areas to help ailing mountain folks who did not have money to pay for medical care but could give Dr. Dooley and his daughter a couple of mason jars filled with apple butter or pickled cucumbers.
A keen sense of family tradition also shaped her childhood as her mother taught her how to bake loaves of the annual family Christmas Stollen bread using a recipe passed down from previous generations. Her quest for independence and a career motivated her to move to Johnson City, Tennessee after graduating from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a degree in home economics. Prior to marrying, she was the home economist for the Johnson City Power Board in the late 1950’s. As a spokesman for the TVA power distributor, she created recipes and hosted a cooking show demonstrating new cooking techniques using new kitchen appliances powered by electricity.
After meeting her husband- to- be through friends at a dinner party, she married Charles Edward Rawlings Jr. on September 13, 1957 and took about 10 years off from her career raising two young children and passing on those same values she learned from her parents. Baking Stollen was the first priority when the Christmas season rolled around. When her children became school age, her passion for teaching led her to graduate school at East Tennessee State University where she earned her master’s degree in early childhood education. She used her degree to further her career as a third-grade teacher for the public school system in Johnson City and Modesto, California. She believed a traditional academic and disciplinary approach was most effective in shaping young minds and was excited to wake up every day and expand their horizons. Through her dedicated efforts and enthusiasm, she won the hearts of all of her students and parents.
After her husband passed away, she retired to Fearrington Village in Pittsboro, NC where she was very active in the Republican club, bridge clubs, and volunteer activities in the community. She was an avid gardener, seamstress, cook, reader, and a very loyal Duke Blue Devils fan and followed the basketball team every season. She loved spending time with her grandchildren, often arriving at their house with a car full of bags and luggage prepared to stay as long as welcome and spending time with her daughter and was always up for a shopping excursion or museum visit followed by tea or lunch.
She was southern through and through with a fierce independent streak that no one could deny. With a mind of her own, no one dared to tell her not to smoke; (“it’s my choice like it or lump it!”), nor did she hesitate to tell you if you were being “ugly” but on the other hand, no one could match her homemade country ham biscuits during the holidays, birthday deviled food chocolate cakes with seven minute frosting, or prime rib and Yorkshire pudding on New Year’s Day.
She is survived by her daughter, Nancy Joyce Rawlings of Alexandria, Virginia, her son, Charles Edward Rawlings III of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and three grandchildren, Morgan, William, and Andrew Rawlings. She will be buried with her late husband, Charles Edward Rawlings Jr., in Ocean View Cemetery in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
A Funeral Service will be held at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, April 23 at the Historic Chapel at the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church, 304 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.
A Graveside Service will be held at 12:00 pm on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at Ocean Woods Memorial Cemetery, 2504 S Kings Hwy, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association at 7980 Chapel Hill Road Suite 101, Cary, NC 27513 or Alzheimer’s Association at 225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17 Chicago, IL 60601. Please also give a big hug to your loved ones and let them know you care. Carpe Diem!
Special thanks and appreciation to the staff at Hillcrest Convalescent Center who provided high quality care with patience and companionship for many years as well as to Deanna Ayers, with Senior Care Management Associates, who spent many hours with her on the smoking porch.