Virginia M. Blackwell

Birth Date: 
Wednesday, March 29, 1922
Date of Passing: 
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

WOOSTER - Virginia Mae Blackwell, 98, Wooster's first Black teacher, answered the call from God on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at her home while surrounded by her children.

Virginia was born in Wooster on March 29, 1922 as the 2nd daughter to James Harper and Elizabeth (Price) Reynolds. She was a 1940 graduate of Wooster High School and then graduated from the then all Black, West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia in 1944 with a major in music education and a minor in history. Despite her qualifications, Blacks could not teach in Wayne County, so she began her teaching career in a 2-room brick schoolhouse in the historical town of Rendville, Ohio. This was the birthplace of her future husband Ralph l. Blackwell whom she married in 1945. The couple raised five children as their greatest achievement: Carolyn Huff of Wooster, Charlotte Blackwell of Columbus, Lois Lowery of St. Peterburg, Fl., James (Teresa) Blackwell of Wooster and Georgetown, Ky, and Loretta Sue Blackwell of Wooster.

Although unable to teach in Wooster, she was hired as a tutor and completed a graduate program at the University of Akron. She worked at Wooster Community Hospital and had a position in the Occupational Therapy Department at the Apple Creek Development Center before being offered a position to teach at the Ida Sue School for handicapped children in 1961. In 1963 she was finally able to become a part of the Wooster City School system. In 1979, Mrs. Blackwell was named teacher of the year and received a plaque from the board of education for her accomplishments after having taught for 23 years and upon her retirement in 1986.

Among many other positions, Virginia has been president of the former Pittsburg Avenue Elementary school PTA; president and vice-president of the Wayne County Retired Teachers Association; president of the Wayne Township Housekeepers Club; president of  "After Five" which was formerly a professional business women's club; president of the Christian Women's Association; treasurer of the Wooster/Orrville NAACP; the Genealogy Society; the Second Baptist Missionary Society; the Salvation Army Women's auxiliary; Wooster's Woman of the year in 2000; was presented with the city's Quality of Life award; was secretary for the Wayne County Chapter for Exceptional Children; worked part-time in the College of Wooster's office of admissions; treasure of Wooster's Interfaith Housing; was former choir director and pianist at the Second Baptist Church in Wooster and retired as the church organist after over 40 years and a member for even longer. After retirement, she enjoyed traveling, spending colder months in Florida (where she often tutored while there), various concerts and activities and working on word search puzzles.

Mrs. Blackwell was preceded in death by her husband, her parents and her sister, Dorothy Grier and a grandson Kyle Kelley. Besides her five children, Virginia leaves behind her 11 grandchildren; Arthur Miner, Margo Miner, Darren Toomer, Andrea (Kip) Davis, Beth (Less'Han) McCullough, Camille Lowery, Ralph Blackwell, Tara Kelley, Courtney (Mitch) Van Dyne, Jamesa (Derek) Mollett, LoraLee Cross and Nathaniel (Staci) Lockett; 25 great grandchildren; seven great-great grandchildren and her spiritually adopted family Leroy and Cheryl Goff and their children Alexandria and John. She also leaves a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends.  Also surviving is her beloved dog, Toby.

Friends will be received at the McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home, 216 E. Larwill St., Wooster on Friday, March 12, 2021 from 7-9:00 P.m.  Face Masks are required and social distancing will be observed.

Private family services will be livestreamed on the funeral home facebook page starting at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 13, 2021 with Rev. Rickey Brown officiating.  Burial will be in the Wooster Cemetery.

Online condolences may be left for the family at


Friday, March 12, 2021 from 7-9:00 p.m. at the funeral home


Private family services will be livestreamed on the funeral home facebook page at 11:00 a.m. Sat., March 13, 2021


My sincere condolences to YOU, the FAMILY!
I know VIRGINIA is a a FAR FAR BETTER PLACE, with RALPH & her other loved ones, and many MANY FRIENDS!
I came a Special Education teacher at Nick Amster/Ida Sue in 1975. That is How I was BLESSED to have Virginia as a
GREAT Friend, via CEC(COUNCIL for EXCEPTION CHILRDEN, CH #812, Wooster).
Every meeting we would talk a lot, or I would visit her at her home, and we would have the BEST memories!
She could assist me on many projects I was doing, just getting started in teacher! What a BLESSING!!
Jim Appleman
READ: Ecclesiastics 3: 1-3, and 1-10 "A TIME for..."

Mrs Blackwell was a customer on my paper route from 1957 to 1963. I used to play sandlot baseball and football with her son, Jimmy. She was a gracious and kind person. God bless her and her family.

So sorry for your loss Jimmy! Your mom was a very special lady indeed! Prayers for you and all of your family!!!

Sending prayers of peace, comfort and love to the family. I was not aware of the vast accomplishments Mrs. Blackwell had achieved, the doors opened for her to be so instrumental in the development of many. I will always remember her smile and music.

YES now saints of God let us embrace the will of God, even in times like these. Even though God's providential will "we know" this now separation of such a loved one brings hurt in our flesh and tears to loved ones eyes. Always look to Christ Jesus and embrace the love shared by each in it's own intimate experience-Surely will cover the pain of right now. As always Jesus is the rock in a weary land; weary land is seasonal.
We extend our prayers to you old friend Lois Lowery.
Ronald and Tracey

My most sincere condolences on the passing of Mrs. Blackwell. She is one of the most respected and loved women I know. We have all been blessed by her example, wisdom, words of encouragement and her shining light. My prayers for you (her family) and all who love her, as you transition through your time of mourning. But joy cometh in the morning! Maybe not tomorrow morning, but there will be a morning. May you be faithful in the Lord as he is always faithful to each of us! Much Love...

Charlotte, May God wrap his arms around you and the entire family, giving you peace, comfort, and strength. The precious and loving memories of your Mom forever hold in your heart. I enjoyed the gatherings at her home.

A wonderful lady and teacher. Condolences to the family.

What a fine woman who raised such a good family .God bless you all

I’m so sorry for your loss. Mrs. Blackwell was a very special person. I was a teacher at Parkview when she was teaching at Wayne. My students went to her class after being in my class for 1-2 years. I’m so honored to be able to say I knew her. My mom Robbie Ditch was a friend of hers.

My condolences to all family and friends. Mrs.Blackwell is a role model for family, friends, and the future. I wish I had experienced the opportunity to teach with her during my career.

Our condolences to the family. Virginia was such a gracious and person and a great example of what living life for the Lord should be . Always a friendly smile and a kind word. Prayers to the family.

To Lois and family: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. She clearly was a very accomplished woman who used her gifts and strengths to give to others.

Love never dies. I love you all.

Jesus said "I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself...." Mother Blackwell will always hold a special place in our hearts. Such a great woman of God. Prayers and Condolences to the entire Blackwell Family.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY cometh in the morning." Our Prayers and Condolences to the entire Blackwell Family. Mother Blackwell was a beautiful woman of God. We enjoyed working with her when IMBC was organized under the leadership of Pastor Outlaw. RIP Good and Faithful Servant!

For the SAKE of VIRGINIA, look up RENDVILLE, OHIO! WOW! What a GRREAT PERSON she was do obtain a position there
(NO blacks where hired in Wooster at that time!! TERRIBLE) where, and just out of college....
(PLUS:) Rendville was GREAT for Virginia: that is where she met RALPH!

LOVE to ALL, for VIRGINIA & RALPH are with the GREAT ONE!
Jim Appleman

You all have my deepest sympathy on your loss. I'll always remember Mrs. Blackwell as a gracious woman of deep and abiding faith. RIP.

Sorry to see of the passing of mrs. Blackwell condolences to Carolyn and family. Frank Snyder and family

I extend my condolences to all of you on the passing of the beautiful Matriarch of your family. Let the blessed comfort that only God can give sustain you now and in the days to come.

Prayers and Condolences to my family, Auntie will always be Loved and Missed will never forget all the wonderful times we had as usual Never enough time it seem to go by to fast but thank God for the time and wonderful memories we were given.... R.I.P. Auntie

rast in peace

Awww... Sweet, sweet Mrs Blackwell. My brother & sister had her as a teacher & Wayne Elementary. I remember visiting her on several occasions in her home & enjoying some great conversations. I worked at Bishop's Drive in during my High School & College days. She absolutely loved their butterscotch cream pie. I often would take her a piece of pie or call & let her know when it was available. She has been on my mind lately as I wondered what ever became of her. I'm sorry to here of her passing. She was a beautiful & loving woman who touched everyone's soul in a memoriable way. I truly appreciate how great she was with her students & the lifelong lessons she taught my brother,sister, & all of the other students who had the joy of having her as a teacher. Heaven certainly gained a wonderful lady.

May this time of sadness bring Joy in the morning as you think about the love received from Virginia.
My mother, Jane Shadburn, always appreciated the true friendship as they taught school together for many years.

Jane knew Virginia as a forever friend. May all of the family take her love with you each day.

Lois and Blackwell Family....I am so sorry to hear of Virginia’s passing...remembering your family in thoughts and prayers

My deepest sympathy to Jimmy & his family.She was a lovely lady.Peace to your hearts. Lynette (Musselman) Geitgey

Dear Carolyn and family, please accept my sincerest sympathy on the passing of your extraordinary Mother and Grandmother. She was just the BEST. Such a lovely lady. She didn't know me, but when I'd run into her browsing in a store, she was always so kind. That was aside from all she accomplished during her life here on Earth. I have absolutely no doubt that she is reunited with Ralph, and that she has been restored to complete health.

To the entire family of Virginia Blackwell, my sincere sympathy on the loss of one of the most important woman to be part of my life. She was responsible for leading the way for every women but especially for Black women in Wooster and Wayne County. I was most proud of always being able to stop at her house in earlier days when I went door-to-door for Democratic candidates and being able to put signs in her yard, and more recently having her daughter do the same. She will be missed and remembered.

Sorry for the loss of your loving mother, she was such a great lady. It was a pleasure knowing her. God Bless your family.
Love, Nina Wyatt

Lois, my thoughts and my prayers are with you and your family during your time of loss. May comfort and peace and wonderful memories surround you in the days ahead.
Love, June Mellinger

Lois, I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your mother. My thoughts and my prayers are with you and your family during your time of loss. May peace and comfort and wonderful memories fill your days ahead.
Love, June Mellinger

My sincere condolences to all family members and friends of this clearly remarkable lady. I was a HS classmate of her daughter Carolyn, who cared faithfully for her mother at the end, and extend special condolences to her.

What a precious jewel!

In the late 70's my husband was Director of Wayne County Children Services and I worked with the children residing in the Childrens' Home. Several of the children were students of Mes. Blackwell. I will always remember her to be warm,loving and understanding of children who often were angry and frightened. When my husband met her he found that he had played High School basketball against her grandson in Perry County! They enjoyed sharing!! She was a blessing to everyone she touched. Condolences to all who loved her.

Blessed be the name of the Lord for He is a merciful kind and loving Father.

With sincere gratitude and much prayer to God we are saddened but joyful; for we know God is too wise to make a mistake, and too just to do wrong. Henceforth in the plucking of another one of His precious flowers-He has called another saint home. As we have recommended our saddened spirits to the Spirit of righteousness, from whom Christ Jesus promised all who would believe in Him. In Him the Comforter will shine the light of sweet peace to the families soul.
From the entire St. John MBC, CLEARWATER, Fl. family who fellowshipped many years with Sister Blackwell as saints of God should here she was "home away from home."
Therefore we resolve this day is memorialized in our hearts, for it has place a granite memory in us, that in remembering Sister Blackwell, and brought us a loving relationship with her daughter Sister Lois Lowery.

God bless you and tour family, and as time passes our spirits will soothe each other in Christ Jesus.

Rev. Dr. Flaming Tarver, Pastor
St. John MBC Clearwater, Fl.

Jimi and Sue (and the rest of the the family) My heart breaks for you at the loss of such a precious soul as your Mom. She is now with Ralph and singing with Jesus. May precious memories help you through this difficult time. Prayers for you all.

May the memories of your wonderful mother give you peace.

My Sincere Condolences to the Blackwell Family,
I had the Pleasure of the acqauintance of Mrs. Blackwell by the way of my sister {Cheryl Goff} .
When I immediately met her I took a liking to her Wisdom & Kindness , I thought she was a very classy Lady..
She will be fondly Missed.
I Pray that God's Grace & Mercy ,continues to strenghten your family in Days to come . God Bless.
Kelvin Choice

My deepest condolences to Mrs
Blackwell family. She was honored by myself and family with much love.To her children,you have our love and sorrow on your loss of this dear woman.

My sincerest condolences to the Blackwell Family.

From Ike Gilyard. Mrs Blackwell was one of my first Organ teacher. She taught me one of my first songs on the Organ, “ Give me a clean heart”.
She also gave me my first opportunity to play at 2nd Baptist church. She has been and always will be a great inspiration in my life and my music. May you Rest in Abraham’s Bosom.

I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. Know that she is resting in the arms of the Lord. Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can't heal. Rev.21:4. Sue you and your family are in my prayers. God bless you all. What great life she lived. You all should be very proud.

So sorry for your loss.

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