Virginia Megredy was the great-granddaughter of early settlers of Sangamon County and the granddaughter of a Civil War soldier. Deeply connected to the land, she lived most of her long life on a sesquicentennial farm near Loami. She had an indomitable spirit, courage in the face of adversity and was tough as nails with a very sensitive heart.
Virginia attended Waverly High School. She wanted to take shop, but couldn’t because she was a girl. She graduated from Blackburn College in 1939 and taught in one-room schoolhouses in Sangamon County. She attended the University of Illinois but didn’t graduate, refusing to take a required swimming class due to her fear of water. Although she couldn’t swim, she was masterful with numbers. At 98 when her doctor asked her to count backwards from 100 by seven, she did so without faltering – after flashing a look filled with daggers.
Virginia’s husband died when she was 53, leaving her to manage the family farm, which she did adeptly. Growing up on a farm where hard work was the norm helped her become fiercely independent. She cherished nature, was an early adopter of conservation practices and worked to be a good steward of the land.
She had two daughters, Carolyn Patterson and Martha Megredy. Through my friendship with Carolyn, I had the pleasure of meeting Virginia on several occasions. We share a farm family background, and I admired Virginia for being a strong woman in a male-dominated environment. I can see Virginia’s love of nature, deep curiosity, kindness, and her strong, brave personality reflected in my friend and her loving daughter, Carolyn.
Submitted by Karen Ackerman Witter