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Patsy Langford

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Patsy Langford


Martha Allen Johns (Patsy) Langford died on December 26, 2012. A memorial service will be held at St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral on Monday, December 31, at 11 A.M., preceded by a visitation in St. Francis Hall at 10 A.M.

Patsy was born to Anne Page Johns and Dr. Frank Stoddard Johns in Richmond, Virginia, in 1926. Patsy was graduated from St. Catherine's School in Richmond and from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, in 1947. Upon returning to Richmond, she worked for the United World Federalists, and was active in the Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton, and was on the junior board of Sheltering Arms Hospital. In Richmond, she met Dr. Herbert G. Langford, originally of Columbia, South Carolina, and they married in 1950. After living in Baltimore during Dr. Langford's residency at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the couple moved to Jackson in 1955, where he joined the faculty of the newly established University Medical Center.

Although she is rumored to have cried all the way to Mississippi, Patsy embraced and charmed her new community. Entertaining medical colleagues and students from around the world, Patsy created a home that encouraged lively conversation, warm hospitality, and sparkling parties. Known for her progressive political and theological views, she enjoyed provoking lively debates, laced with good-natured humor, at the dinner table with all present knowing that their differences were valued, heard, and honored. Her children have been reminded that, during difficult times in Jackson, people of all races and backgrounds knew that they would be deeply welcomed at the Langford home. Indeed, her family, almost forty years ago, hosted for a year the first Japanese exchange student to St. Andrew's School.

Patsy's commitment to her adopted state was informed by her intellectually curious mind, active reading life, and spiritual devotion, which was nurtured by her church home, St. Andrew's. When the civil rights struggle filled Jackson with unrest, Patsy worked with a prominent group of women to ensure that the Jackson schools peacefully operated continuously during desegregation. She, along with other Episcopalians, worked to establish a high-quality early childhood center at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. She assumed leadership positions at the Cathedral, serving on the Vestry, recruiting speakers to the Wednesdays at St. Andrew's series, and singing in the Cathedral Choir for many years. She seized any opportunity to study political and theological issues with rigor, graduating from the four-year Education for Ministry program, and engaging in small study and prayer groups during the Lenten season.

Her spiritual depth was complemented by her athleticism and her fierce competitive spirit, most visibly manifest on the tennis court. Even after a hip replacement late in life, she returned to the court, ably embarrassing much younger players. Other interests that fed her spirit included environmental issues and gardening (she was a founding member of The Garden Club of Jackson), travel, music, the New York Times crossword puzzle, and reading Victorian fiction.

As active as she was in Jackson, Patsy also engaged in a full life in her home state of Virginia, where she maintained a home on the Ware River in Gloucester County. Known for lively house parties there, she welcomed travelers from her wide network of internationally-based friends, as well as her large extended family originating in Virginia. While there, she enjoyed her associations with Ware Episcopal Church, the King's Daughters, and the Garden Club of Gloucester. She was a member of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Together, Patsy and Herbert had four children: William, who lives in Portland, OR, is married to Cheryl Langford and has four children, Elizabeth, John, James, and Sarah; Jon, who lives in Davidson, NC, is married to Jenny Langford and has three children, Cameron, Blair, and Gaines; Robert, who lives in Jackson, is married to Betsy Bradley and has two children, Martha Love and William; and Ellen, who lives in Jackson, has one son, Alexander. Patsy was predeceased by her brother Dr. Thomas Nelson Page Johns, and her sister Anne-Rosewell Johns Roediger. Her sister Ruth Johns Hill and her husband William Maury Hill live in Richmond, VA. Interested in the lives and talents of her extended family, Patsy will be missed by her many godchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins, who found her company delightful, and her spirit nurturing.

The family thanks the staff of St. Catherine's Village for the wonderful care they provided Patsy in her last years. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to St. Andrew's Cathedral in Jackson, or the .


Published in Clarion Ledger on Dec. 30, 2012
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