Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

Peggy Jones began her postal career as a part-time substitute at Wicomico Church. She later became the postmaster where she endeared herself to the patrons by making the post office a center of social activity, especially at Christmastime. 

She dressed as Mrs. Claus and decorated the lobby extensively and exquisitely, and hung stockings from the mantel, the latter fixture being a relic of the days when the building was a restaurant. She probably gave out almost as many presents as she mailed. She came to embody the spirit of Christmas at each office to which she was assigned.

At one point she was reassigned to be the officer-in-charge at Kilmarnock, but after returning briefly to Wicomico Church, she moved on to be the postmaster at Burgess, where she remained for the duration of her career. Wherever she served, she did her utmost to make the postal experience pleasant for every patron, whether one was purchasing a postcard, renting a box, or mailing huge quantities of Christmas cards with the request that she hand cancel each one.

Peggy always had a smile on her face, and a warm greeting for everyone who passed her way. She was the ultimate sharer, delighting in giving her customers pickles and tomatoes she had grown and canned, crocheting blankets for newborn babies whose parents were her clientele, and discussing books she had read.

Peggy’s late husband, Otis, for decades operated the old Wicomico River swing-span bridge at Glebe Point. He liked to say that more people worked under him than anyone else in the Northern Neck, his point being that every tradesman who drove across the bridge while he was in the control box on top was working under him. He and Peggy were a blissfully happy couple.

Last week Peggy died at the age of 82. For countless folks she made the Northern Neck a happier place than it would have been without her. Her formula was simple and direct, namely by being happy herself, she made others happy.

Peggy Jean Campbell Jones, November 17, 1938–May 4, 2021. R.I.P.

*****

Another significant local passage has been that of Diane Gravatt, the former Mayor of Urbanna. Diane and her husband, A.B., a retired U.S. Army Colonel, moved to Urbanna, where in 1998 they purchased “Lansdowne,” the 18th-century home of the patriot, Arthur Lee, who is buried in their backyard. 

Built in 1740, the house, in the center of the town, is one of the architectural gems of Eastern Virginia.  The Gravatts have restored the house with fastidious attention to preserving its historic character. They have shared their experiences quite willingly, inviting scholars and the public at large to come to see what they have accomplished. They have viewed themselves as stewards whose dual charge has been preservation and education.

Diane and A.B. have been regulars on the antique shop and estate sale circuit, furnishing their home in a manner appropriate for its illustrious past. They have been committed to enhancing the quality of life in Urbanna, which effort led Diane to win election as the town’s Mayor, which office she held for one term.  She has been a committed booster of Urbanna, and A.B. has been at her side as the town’s “First Gentleman.” Diane also has served as treasurer of the Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society, where she has displayed the same level of enthusiasm that characterized her mayoralty. 

Last fall the Gravatts sustained the loss of their only son, Shawn, who left a widow and two small children. Last Thursday evening, Diane died unexpectedly in her sleep. She was a true force for good on all of the many avenues she traveled. She found joy in studying the past, and in applying its lessons to the present. Her mark on the history of Urbanna remains both vibrant and profound.

The Honorable Diane Sampson Gravatt, February 3, 1946-May 6, 2021. R.I.P.