Laverne Watson Edwards

Published 4:42 pm Monday, August 7, 2023

Laverne Watson Edwards died peacefully at her home in Smithfield, Virginia on Aug. 6, 2023, after a long and courage fight against multiple myeloma.

Verne was born in Franklin, Virginia on May 23, 1938 and grew up in Black Creek and later Deep Creek, where her father was a Baptist minister. When Verne was fourteen her parents moved to a farm near Keller on the Virginia Eastern Shore, where her father’s family had deep roots. Verne considered herself “from the Shore” and brought her husband and children often, later, to her parents’ home in Locustville to enjoy boating and fishing around the barrier islands. She graduated from Central High School in Painter and then from Westhampton College in Richmond in the Class of 1959.

At the ceremony in which Verne joined the history honor society Phi Alpha Theta, a fellow inductee and University of Richmond student named Robert B. Edwards connected Verne’s face with her name in the enrollment book and asked her on a date. They married on August 13, 1961 and had just a week shy of 63 happy years together. Verne earned her Master’s degree in History from the University of Virginia and taught in Greene County while Bob completed his UVA law degree. Bob was then inducted into the U.S. Army and they began a four-year deployment to West Germany, which cemented their love of travel. Among other adventures in Europe, they crossed Poland by bus when Khrushchev briefly opened the USSR to tourism and were among the few Westerners to see Leningrad and Moscow at that time.

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For eleven years Verne taught French at Isle of Wight Academy. After retiring she taught English and reading skills as a literacy volunteer. She was a civic leader in Smithfield, including longtime service on the board of the Isle of Wight Museum and historic preservation board. Verne loved music and sang for many years in the Smithfield Baptist Church choir. She was a devoted fifty-year member of the Smithfield Shakespeare Class and counted its members among her closest friends. Active in the teaching association Delta Kappa Gamma, she was a passionate supporter of education. She and Bob set up a college scholarship fund for Isle of Wight County students through the Hampton Roads Foundation and she enjoyed reading applications and helping in the selection process.

Verne and Bob sustained their love of travel, revisiting Europe many times and after Bob’s retirement venturing to more far-flung locations. At home, they relished the seasonal comings and goings of birds and wildlife at their home on Moonefield Drive.

Verne was an independent-minded, generous soul who entertained friends with her irreverent sense of humor. A determined optimist, she looked for the bright side in everything. She was devoted to her family and passed down her curiosity, creativity, and sense of adventure to her children and grandchildren.

Verne was predeceased by her parents Wilkes and Rebecca Watson and older brother Allen. She is survived by her beloved husband Bob; son Tim and daughter-in-law Linglan of Poolesville, Maryland; daughter Rebecca of Poughkeepsie, New York; grandsons William and Michael Edwards and Ben Seidl, all now in college; and sister Joanne Percy and nephew Dean Watson of Georgetown, Texas.

The family is deeply grateful for the devoted care and support of Verne’s close friend Taylor Barlow and “Taylor’s Taxi” volunteer drivers Rhonda Carlson, Nancy Fortier, Brenda Joyner, Susan McBirney, Linda Spady, and others; as well as caregivers Ms. Eunice Denson, Ms. Renita Green, Ms. Sheila Beacham’s home health agency, and Riverside Hospice. 

It is difficult for the family to receive visitors at home but phone calls and cards are appreciated. A memorial celebration will be held in the chapel of Little’s Funeral Home in Smithfield on Thursday, August 17 at 11 am, followed by a reception in the Family Life Center at Smithfield Baptist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for the Edwards Family Isle of Wight Scholarship Fund, 101 W. Main St., Suite 4500, Norfolk, VA 23510, or online at Online condolences may be registered at