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Woodstock and Millington says goodbye to Mrs. McVay

Last week McVay's Woodstock Middle School family came to the Millington Baker Community Center to pay tribute to her life and contributions to the community.

Last week McVay’s Woodstock Middle School family came to the Millington Baker Community Center to pay tribute to her life and contributions to the community.

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

For several years the warm, loving face greeting students, faculty and staff at Woodstock Middle School in the cafeteria belonged to Delilah Barbee McVay.

On Jan. 12, the woman known as Ms. Woodstock passed away. Last week the family invited those who grew to love her to the Baker Community Center to say farewell and pay tribute to her memory.

“She was just one of a kind, I never knew of Ms. McVay having a bad day,” WMS Principal Eric Linsy said. “She comes in and she always has something positive for everybody. The children, teachers and including myself, we all looked up to her.

“And we could depend on her for a good strong positive word,” he added. “She was always willing to help anyone and anybody where she knew there was a need. Again she was just a consistent at Woodstock at all our basketball games and functions she could attend. For support, she was always there. She was a face you could depend on and she’s going to be missed tremendously.”

Her duties as cafeteria montior gave McVay a chance to have an encounter with also everybody in the school. And most evenings during basketball season she would make the trip up to Millington Central High School to take her familiar seat to watch the girls’ and boys’ game.

McVay’s son Trent served as principal of MCHS in the 1990s. Trent and other family members including Delilah’s husband Roscoe were on hand greeting well-wishers.

As the line of people from all walks of life made their way through Baker Community Jan. 16, stories were shared of about Mrs. McVay.

“She was a very hard working lady,” Stephanie Hurt said. “She loved the kids. All the kids loved and respect her. She truly loved her job and cared about what she was doing at Woodstock Middle School. She cared truly about Woodstock. That was her heart.”

McVay developed lasting relationships with colleagues, peers and even students. Years after graduating from Woodstock, DeAnna Smith came back to work at the school. The Tennessee State University graduate was happy to see her neighbor and school-mom Mrs. McVay still at her post.

“She meant so much to me,” Smith said. “I’ve been knowing Mrs. McVay since I was very, very young. She lived in the neighborhood and she was very close to my grandmother and grandfather.

“Going to all my games, she was very supportive. She might as well been my mother,” she continued. “I really looked up to her. She always called me Pretty Girl. She was always encouraging me. I’m truly going to miss her and all she means and stands for at Woodstock.”

Smith said Mrs. McVay legacy will be a supporter of education, sports, Woodstock and family. One of the student organizations at the school founded by Melba Tross and Caroline Pugh was modeled after McVay.

“We represent the Gracious Ladies of Woodstock, but she was the Gracious Lady of Woodstock,” Pugh said. “I’ve been knowing her all my life.

“I’m going to miss walking into that Cafeteria and her telling me, ‘Hey Verbie,’” she added. “That was my grandmother’s name. And she always said I look like my grandmother.”

McVay became a mother and grandmother figure for several in Aggie Land. Linsy said her kind and gentle spirit will live on in those she touched at the school.

“Just the way she greeted you,” he said. “She greeted you with warmth and a smile. It was genuine. She didn’t mix any words. She would tell the truth about any and everything. Because of that, when she approached or addressed you it was always just warm.

“The Mother of Woodstock, the First Lady of Woodstock, the highest pedestal you can put her on, I’m sure the community would echo,” Linsy concluded.

McVay was a member of the Millington West Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She is survived by her husband, Roscoe McVay, Sr.; her sister, Raymelle Barbee Williams; a brother, Robert Barbee of Everett, Wash.; and her sons, Juan, Gathion, Eric Trent, Kevin, Alton and Gerard McVay; and daughters, Vivian Dancer and Linda Bardwell.

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