Frances Virginia Matthews Clarke

Published 9:18 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

Patty Sue Epperson Matthews and James Edward Matthews Sr. proudly welcomed Frances “Sis” Virginia Matthews into the world on March 24, 1923. The youngest of four children, she was born on her father’s birthday.

Frances grew up on a Brunswick County farm and graduated from Lawrenceville High School. She continued her education at Madison Teacher’s College (now James Madison University) and was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma. Upon graduation from college, she and her oldest brother boarded a train bound for San Antonio, Texas. Frances married her husband, 2nd Lt. Garland Lewis Clarke, in the historic chapel number one at Randolph Air Force Field.

At the conclusion of World War II, she and Garland returned to Brunswick County, where he helped lead the family retail business — Clarke’s Department Store — and she taught sixth- and seventh-grade mathematics.

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Frances was active in the Lawrenceville Baptist Church, the Brunswick Garden Club, the Women’s Club and many other civic organizations. She held numerous leadership positions and was well respected in the community.

Gardening, playing bridge, reading, knitting, traveling and watching the many birds in her yard were the things in which she took great pleasure. Frances dearly loved her family, their many pets and her extended family. Her home was a special gathering place during the holidays, and she opened her doors as a “bed and breakfast” to other members of the Clarke and Matthews family.

Frances was preceded in death by her husband, Garland Lewis Clarke; and her three brothers, James Edward Matthews Jr., Dr. Charles Arnold Matthews and Judge Joseph Aubrey Matthews Sr.

She is survived by her three daughters, Susan Clarke Schaar (Bill), of Richmond, Sandra Clarke Hart (Chet), of Suffolk, and Lynn Clarke Rucker (Donnie), of Lawrenceville; three sons-in-law; three grandsons, Bladen Clarke Finch, of Richmond, Riggan Matthews Hart, of Suffolk, and Garland Bennett Hart, of Charleston, S.C.; one sister-in-law, Annie Ruth Clarke; one step-grandson, David Schaar, and his wife, Donna, of Moseley; and, two step-great-grandsons, Tyler Berkley Schaar and Jason Adam Schaar, of Moseley; and many nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to extend special thanks to the many caregivers who helped fulfill her desire to remain at home.

Visitation will be held Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Williams Funeral Home in Lawrenceville. Services will convene at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Williams Funeral Home, with interment at Oakwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations should be sent to Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church (c/o Sue Baker, 6457 Grandy Road, Brodnax, VA 23920-2202) or the Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Department (400 N. Main St., Lawrenceville, VA 23868).