Mary Virginia Horne

03/01/2011 5:35 PM |

Mary Virginia Horne of Riverhead, known as “Sis,” died Feb. 25 at the age of 80.

Born Oct. 28, 1930, in Cartersville, Va., to Willie T. and Vernon M. Smith, she graduated from Luther P. Jackson High School in Cumberland, Va., with honors in French. She married Albert Horne of Eatonton, Ga., and they settled in Riverhead. While raising her children, she earned a B.A. from Long Island University in Riverhead and worked for 33 years for the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, retiring in 1991.

According to family members, Ms. Horne was “a champion of good in her community” and received many awards for community service, including one in 1970 from the National Council of Negro Women. She was recognized by Central Suffolk Hospital in 1974 for 2,500 hours of volunteer service; received the achievement award from the Mary McLeod Bethune Society in 1988, 1990 and 1992; and in 1994 was given the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Meritorious Award.

Her family said she was proudest of being named Social Worker of the Year in 1995 by the Suffolk County Department of Health in 1955, two years after she had retired. Shortly after she received that honor, Riverhead Township gave her a “Key to the City” and designated Oct. 6 of each year as “Mary Horne’s Day — Retired and Refired!”

Ms. Horne was a member of First Baptist Church of Riverhead, where she served on many committees. She was “humble and meek,” family members said, and loved to write obituaries for her friends and loved ones. She published two books of poetry and was working on a third when her health began to deteriorate.

She is survived by her children, Yvonne Neal of Yonkers, Arlene Harrington of Hampton, Ga., Joanne Humbles and Barry, both of Riverhead, and Brenda Williams of Jonesboro, Ga.; her brothers, Raymond and Herbert Smith, both of Riverhead; her sister, Evelyn Hargrove of Powhatan, Va.; 12 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by a sister, Alice Booker, and brother, John Smith.

A home going service was conducted Feb. 28 at First Baptist Church of Riverhead by Pastor Charles A. Coverdale. Interment took place March 2 at New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery in Cartersville, Va. Arrangements were handled by Seay Memorial Chapel in Riverhead.