WARSAW—The world has lost a beautiful, feisty matriarch following a stroke this week at age 101.
Lue Vennia (Sanford) Yeatman Courtney, affectionately called “Mama” by all those close to her, was a source of wisdom and support for her family and friends for over a century.
Lue Vennia was born on July 9, 1920, in Zacata to Mary Elizabeth Douglas Sanford and George L. Sanford.
She was predeceased by her first husband, Frank Matthew Yeatman Jr.; her second husband, Welford James Courtney; her brother, Luther Alymer Sanford; as well as her three beloved sons, Frank Matthew Yeatman III, George William Yeatman and Ryland Edward Yeatman.
She is survived by six granddaughters and their families.
Besides running a working farm and raising three very active boys, Lue Vennia also worked as a bookkeeper for Edwards’ Grain Elevator and Northern Neck Building Supply.
She was an avid reader and a wonderful cook, generously passing on her recipes and cooking tips for favorites like homemade ice cream, yeast rolls, and Sunday fried chicken.
However, she might be best remembered for her legendary gardening ability–she could make any plant thrive, from giant pumpkins to Christmas cactus to stunning orchids. She and Welford maintained a garden and greenhouse, sold watermelon and cantaloupe in Warsaw and at Tappahannock Livestock Market, and, along with her friend Susie, sold flowers at Willie Omohundro’s store in Lyells’ Corner.
In the last few years, following her eldest son’s passing, she treasured the time she spent with her sons, George and Ryland, as well as visits from their children and grandchildren, extended family, and church and community friends, in particular, the Garner family angels and the Rev. Dr. Jason Patrick. She enjoyed sharing stories about her early married life with Frank and the local traditions such as 4th of July celebrations, the “old time games,” playing Rook and checkers on “Checkerboard Hill.”
She often reminisced fondly about her travels to Canada; Charleston, South Carolina; and to Assateague and Chincoteague Islands for the annual running of the ponies—she even purchased one for the farm! Especially memorable was her trip, driving in an RV across the country taking in a number of famous landmarks all the way to the California Redwood Forest with her husband, Welford. She was a joy-filled servant of Christ as demonstrated in her lifelong devotion to Menokin Baptist Church, where she served as one of the first female deacons and became deacon emeritus in 2002. She was also instrumental in starting “The Sunbeams” Sunday school program for younger children.
Even into her late years, Lue Vennia possessed a sharp memory and a quick wit, and, despite suffering some hearing loss, remained remarkably strong, social and independent. A friend said recently, “If there were more people like Lue Vennia, this world would be a better place.”
The extraordinarily generous Menokin Baptist Church family loved and cared for Mama all of her life, most especially during this challenging past year. Her granddaughters Frances, Karen, Carrie and Machelle extend their heartfelt appreciation for all the visits, meals, support and care they so generously gave to her.
A service of Thanksgiving for Lue Vennia’s life was held at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 2. In lieu of flowers, consider donating generously to Menokin Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1135, Warsaw, VA 22572 in her name.
Welch Funeral Home – Marks Chapel, Warsaw, handled the arrangements.