In Memoriam: Virginia Holton, former W&L trustee Holton served as trustee from 1986-1995.
Virginia Holton, former trustee and first lady of Virginia, died in Irvington, Virginia, on Dec. 16, 2022. She was 97.
Born in Roanoke as Virginia Harrison Rogers, and affectionately known as “Jinks,” she attended Stuart Hall School in Staunton and earned a B.A. in French from Wellesley College. After graduating, Holton worked for the American Embassy in Brussels and the Central Intelligence Agency.
She was married to A. Linwood “Lin” Holton Jr. ’44, who served as Virginia’s governor from 1970-1974. The two were staunch supporters of desegregation and enrolled their children in predominantly Black public schools in Richmond, a decision which received national media attention.
Holton was active with the Right to Read Program, which was sponsored by the Department of Housing, Education and Welfare, and served on the Steering Committee of Virginia’s first Governor’s Conference on Reading in 1974.
The first lady was also a celebrated host who famously offered public tours of the governor’s mansion, as well as provided education about nutrition to low-income families. She was an advocate for fine arts, performing arts, corporate-sponsored day care, programs for the learning disabled, and higher education.
Holton served on W&L’s Board of Trustees from 1986-1995 and was a member of the Academic Affairs, Nominating, and Planning and Development Board committees. In the ’90s, she served on the cabinet for W&L’s On the Shoulders of Giants Campaign. Holton was named a trustee emeritus in 1996.
Along with her service to W&L, Holton’s commitment to education included serving as a trustee at University of Virginia Medical School Foundation, and as a member of the University of Virginia board of visitors. She was also president of the Virginia Environmental Endowment, a board member of Voices for Virginia’s Children, and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
Holton is survived by four children, Tayloe Loftus, Anne Holton, A. Linwood “Woody” Holton III and Dwight Holton, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and extended family. She is predeceased by her husband, who died in 2021 at age 98. Holton’s nephews Frank Rogers III ’79, ’84L and Edwin “Ted” Vaden ’69 are W&L alumni.
A memorial service was held on Jan. 7. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Historic Christ Church or Habitat for Humanity.