Home to heavenly mansion
Published 9:22 pm Friday, March 13, 2015
Though rain had been predicted, the sun shone brightly upon Cedar Hill Cemetery as Katherine Godwin, a former first lady of Virginia, was laid to rest.
Oakland Christian United Church of Christ Pastor Gregory Ryan told the 75 or so people gathered at the graveside that God promised a heavenly mansion to His believers in John 14.
“I think it’s most appropriate to talk about mansions today,” Ryan said during the graveside service for Godwin, who spent eight years living in Virginia’s Executive Mansion during husband Mills Godwin’s two terms in office. She also penned a book about what it was like to live there and included stories about some of her predecessors.
Email newsletter signup
One of the curses of living to such an advanced age — Godwin was 98 when she died March 5 — is that most of your family and friends die before you, Ryan said.
“Ninety-eight years is a long time to live, particularly when you lost your parents when you were only 2, your daughter when she was merely 14, and your husband more than 16 years ago,” Ryan said. “You’re waiting a long time to get back to that mansion. We’re sad, but it was more than time for her to go and be with those family members.”
After the service, Ryan recalled his only meeting with Godwin just a month ago. He had tried to get together with her at other times after he came to the church about two years ago, but one of them always had to cancel, he said.
He had expected to hear old stories about Chuckatuck but instead wound up answering a lot of questions about himself and his family.
“She wanted to know about me, which was what I always heard,” Ryan said. “It was never about her. We need more folks like that.”
Leroy Howell said Godwin was his fourth-grade teacher.
“She was kind and patient,” he said. “She had all the qualities a teacher should have. She commanded respect.”
Mary Jane and Doug Naismith said Godwin was the epitome of what a lady should be. Despite the early deaths of family members she suffered, Godwin never revealed that she harbored any bitterness, they said.
“I never heard her say an unkind word about anybody,” he said.
Many women looked to her as a role model, including Betsy Brothers.
“She’s just one of those ladies who were an inspiration,” Brothers said. “She was a role model any of us who knew her would aspire to live up to. When I was with her, it was a privilege.”
Martha Whitney Godwin Farris said her parents did a lot of traveling with Mills and Katherine Godwin over the years. Godwin, her father and her grandfather all had a law office together.
“Whenever you saw her, it was like you were the only person she ever wanted to see,” Farris said. “She was that kind of person.”
The last time her parents saw Katherine Godwin, she revealed she was longing to go to her heavenly mansion, Farris said.
“She said she had a wonderful life but was really wanting to be with Mills again,” Farris said. “So we can be happy for her.”