Yancey Brooking Birdsong

Published 8:55 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Her favorite saying: “The measure of a life is not its duration, but its donation.” — She achieved both!

Mabel Yancey Brooking Birdsong, 108, passed away in Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Norfolk, on Feb. 25, 2014. Mrs. Birdsong was born in Cleveland, Tenn., on Jan. 28, 1906, and was the daughter of the late Mabel Fitzpatrick and Ernest Linwood Brooking.



She attended John Brown University and University of Virginia and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in music from Longwood College in 1928. Mrs. Birdsong moved to Suffolk where she met her husband, William M. Birdsong, who was a local attorney and where she was the music supervisor of the Suffolk Public Schools from 1928 to 1931. She had a long tradition of involvement and leadership in church and community activities. Mrs. Birdsong was the founding president of the Louise Obici Memorial Hospital Auxiliary (1951-53) and a volunteer at the hospital for many years. She served on the Suffolk School Board from 1956 to 1962. She was a member of the Nansemond River Garden Club, Suffolk Literary Club, Suffolk Book Club, Suffolk Historical Society and Suffolk Art League. She loved to play bridge and was a member of several bridge clubs and played until she was 106 years old. She was a member of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia and a member of The Cabell Foundation. She was a very active member of Main Street United Methodist Church, including being a Sunday School teacher, Circle leader, president of the United Methodist Women and active on many committees of the church.


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The widow of William McLemore Birdsong, and predeceased by her oldest son, William M. Birdsong Jr., she is survived by her sons Cabell Brooking Birdsong and his wife, Mary Jane, and George Yancy Birdsong and his wife, Sue, all of Suffolk, and her daughter-in-law Dale B. Birdsong, of Virginia Beach; eight grandchildren: William McLemore Birdsong III (Betsy), of Courtland, Everett Brooking Birdsong (Miriam), of Suffolk, Christine Brothers Birdsong White (Rob) and Imogene Gay “Gigi” Birdsong Calvert (George), both of Richmond, Jane Douglas Birdsong Reynolds (Tom), of Atlanta, Ga., Anne Cabell Birdsong Pearce (Steve) and David Jefferson Birdsong (Brooke), both of Norfolk, and Charles Randolph Birdsong (Davin), of Suffolk; and 14 great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was a remarkable woman, independent and determined, yet kind and compassionate. She loved life and lived each day to the fullest. She touched the lives of her family, friends and community in so many meaningful ways. She was full of life and always kept a positive attitude. She lived long and contributed much.

One unusual “achievement” that can only come with longevity and that comes only to a select few was to have been on the Willard Scott TV show at ages 102 and again at 106!

Yes, the measure of her life was both its duration and donation!

A memorial service will be held at Main Street United Methodist Church, 202 N. Main St., Suffolk, at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Service will be conducted by church pastor the Rev. Myrtle Hatcher and by the Rev. Woodie Rae of Lake Prince Woods.

The family will receive friends at R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory, 509 W. Washington St. on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Mrs. Birdsong requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to Main Street United Methodist Church, 202 N. Main St., Suffolk, VA 23434, or a charity of your choice.

R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge. Condolences may be registered at www.rwbakerfh.com.