Virginia Barron

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Virginia Dixon CULBREATH Barron

Asheville - Virginia Culbreath Barron, a Southern lady with a remarkable intellect, died March 18, 2012 in Asheville.

Known as Dickey to most of her friends, she was an icon in Rome, GA, where she spent most of her life, and was beloved by old and young alike.

"She was one of the most intelligent people I've ever known. Her mind was like a steel trap", said retired financial advisor, Cecil Baker (Buster) Wright, III, a former next-door neighbor and life-long friend. "Dickey was interested in everything, including genealogy, and she knew more about my family than most of us in it. She was the epitome of a terrific mother, not only to her children, but all of their friends as well." His wife, Janice Bracken Wright, an Episcopal priest who had carried on daily e-mail correspondence with Dickey, will conduct the memorial service in Rome, GA.

Born August 7, 1917 in Grantville, GA, Dickey was the daughter of the late Leta Merriwether Arnold and C.C. Culbreath. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Zeddie Pleasant Barron, who died in 1993.

After graduating from Newnan (GA) High School, she earned a bachelor's degree from Shorter College in Rome and a master's degree in chemistry from Emory University in Atlanta. Her children will proudly tell you that she was one of the first women ever accepted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for its doctoral program in chemistry. However, Dickey pursued her PhD in chemistry at the University of Chicago because her mother preferred a Baptist school if she had to be north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Dickey married Zeddie Pleasant Barron Jr. in 1940. She taught at Shorter College as well as Darlington School, and wrote briefly for the Rome News-Tribune, while her husband served in the US Army during WW II. Following the war, she became an active volunteer and served on the boards of the Junior Service League, Community Concerts, Darlington Mothers Club, Floyd Hospital, Rome Floyd County Library and the Colonial Dames.

The Barrons served as Rome parents for many Darlington School boarding students before the school organized a formal program. Among them were brothers, Bill and Bob Smith of Tallahassee, FL. "Dickey became my mom away from home and, boy, she was a good one," said Bill Smith. "She fed me on weekends, let me borrow her car, washed my clothes when they needed and had an incredible influence on my life. She and her late husband Zeddie were the best set of second parents I could have asked for ... Dickey was incredibly smart, generous and strict. Her value system was strong and her love for me was overwhelming, just as my love for her was."

Robin Davis Byars, her neighbor in Rome, remembers Dickey as always smiling. "She remembered birthdays and all special occasions. She shared time with family and friends at Sea Island where she loved to take them crabbing and shell-hunting. She loved nature and she knew names of all plants and trees," Byars said.

She is survived by her son, Thomas Arnold Barron and his wife, Jane Henderson Barron, of Tallahassee, FL, her daughter, Merriwether Barron McLean and her husband, Dr. Lee McLean, of Asheville and five grandchildren, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Anne Barron, all of Tallahassee, FL, Will McLean of Chapel Hill, NC and Cate McLean of Aspen, CO.

The family wishes to thank her particularly devoted caregivers at Deerfield: Doris Alexander, Steve Jones, Jean O'Kelley, Larry Birlkowski and Ken Rice. Their love and support were a blessing to Mrs. Barron, and her family is deeply grateful.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 12:30 PM at Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome, GA with the Reverend Janice Bracken Wright officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Deerfield Employee Appreciation Fund, 1617 Hendersonville Road, Asheville, NC 28803, the Rome-Floyd County Library, 205 Riverside Parkway, Rome, GA 30161 or to Darlington School, 1014 Cave Spring Road, Rome, GA 30161.

Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian is assisting the family locally and Daniel's Funeral Home is assisting the family in Rome, GA.

An online memorial register is available at www.grocefuneralhome.com.

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Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times from Mar. 21 to Mar. 22, 2012
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