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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth


Virginia Rice Webb, Old Dominion University's first first lady, died May 25. She was 93.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 3, at First Presbyterian Church, located on the corner of Redgate and Colonial avenues in Norfolk.

The widow of Lewis W. Webb Jr., director of the Norfolk Division from 1946-62 and Old Dominion's first president (1962-69), Webb set a high standard for future university first ladies.

As noted in the 2000 history book "Old Dominion University: From the Great Depression to the New Millennium, 1930-2000," "With little to no financial or in-kind resources, Old Dominion's first first lady still managed to entertain graciously, if sometimes simply. She planned, executed and catered events in the library and the gymnasium, often recruiting other campus women to help ...."

Former ODU administrator David Shufflebarger reportedly called Webb's chicken salad "the cement that held this campus together."

Like her husband, Webb offered a personal touch to a small but growing school. In 1950 she organized the Faculty Wives and Friends group. "She knew salaries were low and that many of these women had small children, so the group met one Friday night a month and recruited their husbands to look after the children," according to the book. The group still exists and now includes women who are university employees.

Webb remained active in the university after her husband retired in 1969, participating in the activities of the Campus Beautification Committee, Town-N-Gown and the Faculty Wives and Friends Club. She was presented the University Medal, Old Dominion's highest honor, in 1986. Her portrait hangs in Webb Center's Virginia Rice Webb Room. Survivors include Robert L. Ash, interim vice president for research.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Lewis and Virginia Webb Scholarship Endowment at ODU, in care of the Office of Development.

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