Virginia “Jinks” Rogers Holton

Virginia “Jinks” Rogers Holton

IRVINGTON—Virginia “Jinks” Rogers Holton died December 16, 2022.  Born on October 21, 1925, to Frank and Anne Rogers of Roanoke, she passed away peacefully in her home at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury (RWC) in Irvington. Her husband, A. Linwood “Lin” Holton Jr., predeceased her.

Jinks graduated from Stuart Hall in Staunton at age 16 and Wellesley College at 20.  Immediately after World War Two, she worked in Belgium ostensibly as a secretary in the U.S. embassy but in fact for the predecessor organization to the CIA. She continued that work back in Washington, D.C., frequently visiting family in Roanoke, where she met a young man from Big Stone Gap. He won her heart—outpacing stiff competition, as her letters from the time make clear. 

Jinks and Lin married in 1953. Together they helped build a modern Republican Party to challenge the domination of the then-segregationist Democratic party. In Lin’s 1969 race for governor, she logged thousands of miles crisscrossing Virginia in an RV dubbed “Ladies for Lin.” In office, Jinks and Lin devoted themselves to opening up opportunities for all Virginians. In August 1970, the couple sent their children to formerly all-Black schools, offering a model of hope in contrast to other southern politicians who had clung to segregation by blocking schoolhouse doors. 

Community service was Jinks Holton’s mission and joy. As First Lady of Virginia, she led efforts to improve nutrition for Virginia’s children. Into her late 80s, she volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, locally and around the world. She served on the boards of the University of Virginia, Washington and Lee University, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Virginia Environmental Endowment, Historic Christ Church, Claude Moore Colonial Farm and Mount Vernon. She helped found Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Northern Neck Court Appointed Special Advocates. She received numerous awards for supporting the arts and helping expand quality childcare in Northern Virginia.

Holton’s commitment to service was grounded in her faith. The granddaughter of an Episcopal bishop, she sang in the choir at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in McLean and later at Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock.

Jinks and Lin led their four children on adventures from digging clams at Wrightsville Beach to rafting down the Colorado River. She was an avid tennis player and then pickleballer who skied well into the 2000s. She and Lin gathered the family for a beach trip each summer; she even made it to Sandbridge in 2022.

She is survived by her children Tayloe Loftus (Jon Loftus), Anne Holton (Tim Kaine), Woody Holton (Gretchen Schoel) and Dwight Holton (Mary Ellen Glynn); 10 grandchildren; and twin great-grandchildren and other treasured kin.

A memorial service will be held at noon January 7 at Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock.

The family thanks RWC, and especially Maude Harris and Jami Seagle, for their loving care.

Gifts in lieu of flowers may be made to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Historic Christ Church or Habitat for Humanity.