Patricia Marie Brittain Irving, 84, of Lexington, Va., died Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, in the Borden Health Center at Kendal of Lexington. She was born June 1, 1928, in Piedmont, Ala., a daughter of the Honorable George Clyde Brittain and Nora Elizabeth Snead Brittain. She spent her childhood in Anniston, Ala., and graduated from Birmingham Southern College, where she was a member of Entre Amigos, Honor Council, Mortar Board, Kappa Delta Epsilon, Pi Beta Phi, College Theater, Who’s Who and Council of International Relations. She also wrote for the campus newspaper and yearbook.
She married the Rev. David Holmes Irving in 1948. While Holmes was pursuing his Master’s in Divinity at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., Pat was instrumental in founding a preschool and kindergarten for children of students and faculty. They moved to Mobile, Ala., in 1954 where the Rev. Irving served as Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church. In Mobile, Mrs. Irving worked courageously for civil rights and served as a member of ABLE: Alabamians Behind Local Education, which helped to transition the public schools during integration. She worked with children at Wilmer Hall, an Episcopal orphanage, served as president of the PTA, was a Girl Scout leader, and chaired fundraising for the March of Dimes.
In 1964, the Rev. Irving accepted a call to become the minister at R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, Va. Mrs. Irving was an active member involved in numerous activities there. She provided care for the sick and bereaved and dealt with emergency situations including out-of-town travelers and their families who needed comfort. She was known for her sense of humor and her many kindnesses to children, the elderly, newcomers, and anyone in need. Pat was an avid reader and during the ’60s and ’70s, Mrs. Irving was among a handful of women who were allowed to attend classes at Washington and Lee University, where she audited journalism and sociology courses. She volunteered at the Rockbridge Regional Library and served as a reference librarian. She was a reading tutor for The Youth Literacy Program and substitute teacher at Lexington High School.
Mrs. Irving was active in Democratic presidential campaigns. She enjoyed visiting the elderly and volunteered with Meals for Shut-Ins, and chaired fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. Along with her husband, she traveled extensively and served parishes in England and Mexico. They led tour groups to England, the Holy Land and Greece.
Mrs. Irving is survived by her sister, Marilyn Brittain Rice of Boston, Mass.; two daughters and sons-in-law, Beth and Jeff Massel of Virginia Beach, Va., and Patty and Fred Sensabaugh of Harrisonburg, Va.; a son and daughter-in-law, David and Karla Irving of Harrisonburg, Va. Grandchildren include Jennifer Massel Tubman and her husband, Alan, of Burnt Hills, N.Y., Sarah Sensamaust and her husband, Adam, of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kathleen Sensabaugh and her husband, Ryan Wolz, of McGaheysville, Va., and Josh Massel and his fiancée, Nicole Grecco, of Virginia Beach, Va. In addition, great-grandchildren are Alan and Timothy Tubman and Charlotte and Annais Sensamaust.
Monday, Jan. 28, a family graveside service will be held prior to a memorial service, which will begin at 2 p.m. at R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church, 123 W. Washington St., Lexington, Va. A reception follows 3:30 p.m. at Kendal Hall, Kendal at Lexington, 160 Kendal Drive.
Memorial contributions may be made to R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church, 123 W. Washington St., Lexington, VA 24450, or to The Youth Literacy Program, Rockbridge Regional Library, 138 S. Main St., Lexington, VA 24450.
Arrangements by Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory, Lexington, Va.