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Phoebe Martin Harcum


1929 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Phoebe Martin Harcum Obituary
POQUOSON - Phoebe Martin Harcum passed unexpectedly to her eternal reward on January 4, 2018. She was born on November 18, 1929 to Mildred and Herbert Martin of Poquoson, Virginia. When the Great Depression ended, her father took a job at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC. She completed high school and her freshman year at American University, both in Washington DC. When her family moved back to Poquoson in 1948, Mrs. Harcum transferred to the College of William & Mary, achieving a BA degree in Sociology in 1951. She matriculated at The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, but left to get married to Eugene Rae Harcum in 1952. She became a social worker in Baltimore, Maryland until moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, as her husband completed graduate study. Mrs. Harcum worked as a social worker in Ann Arbor, and took social work classes at the University of Michigan until her first child was born. After the birth of a second child, the family moved to Williamsburg in 1958, when her husband took a teaching position at the College of William and Mary. After her children started school, she began taking classes in education at William & Mary, subsequently earning her credentials as a special education teacher. Mrs. Harcum enjoyed a successful career as a special education teacher in schools in Williamsburg, York County, Newport News and at the Education Department of Eastern State Hospital. She continued taking classes while her husband was on leave at the University of California, Berkeley and at the California State College at Hayward. Ultimately, she earned an MA degree in Master of Arts in teaching at William & Mary in 1970. Mrs. Harcum also worked as a social worker for the Baptist Children's Home of Virginia, as a Supervisor of Special Education for the City of Newport News Public Schools and as the Executive Director of the Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Foundation of Hampton, a 40-acre campus for the education and training for persons with mental and physical disabilities. In 1996, she moved with her family back into the family home on a farm in Poquoson. The farm is designated as a Virginia Century Farm because it has been in "continuous operation by the same family for 100 years." Mrs. Harcum was extremely active in a wide array of religious and community events. She was an important link in the founding of the civic museum in Poquoson. She retained a position on the Board of the Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Foundation. She was a founding member of the Wednesday Morning Music Club, now called the Williamsburg Music Club. She sang in the Chancel Choir and the Women's Chorus of her local church, Tabernacle United Methodist Church. In fact, she had sung in church choirs since she was 17 years old. She was president and teacher of her Sunday School class. She was Chairman of the family cemetery board. In addition, she made herself available for a host of special community projects. For example, for three months, she was in charge of the local recovery effort after Hurricane Isabel. Mrs. Harcum is survived by her husband of 65 years, Rae Harcum. Her two children are Sally Maxwell (David) and Payten Harcum. Her three grandchildren are James Maxwell (Ginny), Chris Maxwell (Ashley) and Will Harcum (Ashley). Her three great-grandchildren are Ralph Maxwell, Phoebe Harcum and Della Harcum. Two new great-grandchildren are expected this month and next month. Visitation will be from 5-7 pm on Monday, January 8th at Claytor Rollins Funeral Home. The funeral services will be held at 11am on Tuesday, January 9th at Tabernacle United Methodist Church, Poquoson, with the Rev. Jim Early officiating. Interment will follow at Smith Memorial Cemetery, Poquoson. It is suggested that memorial gifts be made to UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief), to the local Poquoson Volunteer Rescue Squad or to . Mrs. Harcum's life and career is well summarized by two lines from Edgar A. Guest's poem, "It Couldn't be Done." A copy of the poem was given to her when she retired from Newport News Public Schools. A relevant passage reads, "She started to sing as she tackled the thing that couldn't be done, and she did it."
Published in Daily Press on Jan. 7, 2018
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