Virginia Lee Fritts Brown died Monday, March 30, 2020, at the age of 101 at her daughter’s home in Cleveland, TN with both of her children at her side.
Virginia Lee Fritts was born December 19, 1918, in Monterey, TN to Frank Walton Fritts and Olen Holloway Fritts. Her mother worked in the family dry goods store, Holloway & Sons, and her father was a brakeman on the Tennessee Central Railroad.
At Monterey High School Virginia Lee was a basketball player on a state championship team and was valedictorian of her class in 1937. She attended Milligan College for a year and then transferred to Tennessee Tech where she majored in Business. She was a cheerleader, Tech Sweetheart, president of the Tech Christian Association, and in Who’s Who. In her senior year she was engaged to James Seay Brown, an engineering major, who was the first Associated Student Body President at Tech. They both graduated in June of 1941 and were married that July. James Seay joined the engineering faculty at Tech; Virginia Lee worked for the Superintendent of Putnam County Schools for a year, and then taught typing and coached girls’ basketball at the high school. James Seay joined the Navy in 1943, and they moved to Boston where he attended Harvard and MIT, learning how to install azimuth radar on ships. While there, their first child, Jim, was born.
By 1946 they were back in Cookeville with James Seay again on the Tennessee Tech faculty. In 1948 their second child, Rebekah, was born. In 1951 Virginia Lee and her close friend, Margaret Prescott, were allowed to share a job in the Tech library – Virginia Lee worked in the mornings and Margaret kept the children, and the reverse happened in the afternoons. Virginia Lee kept that job until 1979 when she and James Seay both retired. Very active in First Baptist Church of Cookeville, Virginia Lee taught college women for many years, staffed the clothes closet, worked in the nursery, and spent many Wednesdays at the church with international students. In the community she was involved with Tech Women’s Club and the Book Club, and a regular hostess for faculty and staff at Tech.
After retirement Virginia Lee spent ten years with the Crisis Pregnancy Center as a counselor and James Seay kept the books. The two of them also spent about ten years with Habitat for Humanity. And both enjoyed their volunteer years with Cookeville Regional Hospital. Virginia Lee also knitted hats for cancer patients and blankets for stillborn babies. She was also an excellent quilter, making quilts for families and friends.
James Seay passed away in November of 2013, and in May of 2016, at the age of 97, Virginia Lee moved to Garden Plaza, an independent senior living complex in Cleveland TN to be near family. That was a very hard move for her, but with her typical ability to adapt, she made many new friends at Garden Plaza as well as First Baptist Church in Cleveland.
Virginia Lee is survived by her son Jim Brown (Linda) of Birmingham AL, their three children Andrea (Reed Brozen), Josh (Betty), Katy Brown, and their four grandchildren: Alison, Will, and Owen Brown and Isabel Brozen. She is also survived by daughter Rebekah (David Chaffin) of Cleveland, their three children Curt (Chris) Chaffin, Rachel (Brian Scott) and Virginia (Ryan Breneman), and their nine grandchildren: Brown and Joseay Chaffin, Sarah Scott (Simeon Hinchman), Hannah and Elizabeth Scott, Andrew, Ella, Hugh and Luke Breneman.
Because of Covid19, there will be a celebration of life at a future date.