Upon this rose’s release in 2019, we opened an essay contest where entrants could submit the story of a woman that they admired in their life. We received many entries, but were moved by the essay from Carolyn Davis and the high praise and stories of her mother, Nora Virginia Davis’ life. Nora Virginia was a woman of faith, family, and hard work.
Read her essay below:
My mother, Mrs. Nora Virginia Davis (Virginia), valued Faith, Family and Hard Work. She accepted Christ at an early age, and later made sure her children had a faith-based education.
Virginia Williamson was born in New Hebron, Mississippi, and graduated from Prentiss Industrial Institute (high school) at the age of 15. She attended Tougaloo College, taking courses such as Survey of Biological Science, Elementary French and Home Making. After two years, she left Tougaloo and moved to Chicago to live with her mother and aunt. Having an interest in science and the medical field, she began working as a Technologist at Cook County Hospital’s Department of Pathology (now known as Cook County Health, Pathology, Clinical & Anatomic Laboratories).
On Cook County Hospital’s campus she met the love of her life! They married a year later in 1954. Though she would eventually rise to lead one of the electron microscopy labs, her values of Faith, Family and Hard Work led her to take an eight-year leave of absence from her work at the hospital (1960-1967) to serve her family as a full-time Home Maker. It was during this time that my Mom participated in testing roses for Jackson and Perkins. She loved roses so much! My Dad remembers going to my Mom’s garden every morning before work so he could clip a rose to put on his suit jacket lapel.
After I bought my first house, my Mom and Dad traveled from Illinois to Maryland to help make my house into a home. Within the first 24 hours of their visit, my Mom had planted annuals in my front yard! She would regularly repeat the verse, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” teaching her children the importance of being generous and the importance of the phrase,”Merci Beaucoup,” and it’s meaning. She encouraged us to extend God’s blessings to others, and to give thanks for God’s blessings given to us. Mom truly led by example…I am so happy to have a treasure chest of her gifts, cards and thank you notes!
My Mom also loved to cook. Over the years she became famous for her homemade grape jelly, peach preserves, ice cream, fruitcake, warm banana pudding, strawberry cobbler, custard, prime rib, sweet potato soufflé, turkey and dressing, shrimp and rice, shrimp gumbo, fried chicken, sweet tea, and all varieties of farm fresh vegetables. She made sure I had a subscription to Southern Living magazine and we would spend hours talking about different ways to prepare meals.
Mom also supported our activities outside of our home. She attended just about every school event for her children and grandchildren, from sporting events to plays and even traveled to New York with my Dad and brother to make dinner and have a table set with beautiful flowers after my first day on my first job. Traveling was also a passion of hers. She traveled with my Dad to all 50 states and across five continents, many times with family and many times with members of her neighborhood Bridge Club.
Mom completed her undergraduate studies at Roosevelt University in Chicago once she went back to work and she began graduate work at Chicago State University. Her career as a Technologist and Electron Microscopist spanned more than 30 years. In addition, she and my Dad celebrated their 64th Wedding Anniversary last June. She was truly committed to her Faith, Family and Hard Work!
I am so honored to enter my Mom in this Women’s Celebration Contest. After Mom passed this year on February 28 following a four-week stay in the hospital, I ordered a Jackson and Perkins catalog to begin the process of planning a Memorial Rose Garden for her. Looking through the catalog, I was excited to see that some of my memories of her and her impact on her family and those around her could be shared in this Women’s Celebration Essay Contest!! Merci Beaucoup!!
Find the Nora Virginia Hybrid Tea Rose here.