Tupelo--Virginia S. Chambers, child of God, devoted follower of Christ, loving wife, mother, friend, and trusted quiet counselor, died in her home surrounded by family on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Born in Columbia, South Carolina two days before Christmas in 1946 to Carl and Helen Shelton, she was raised in the Baptist church and attended Columbia High School. Never to take the easy path, she transferred from Winthrop College to the University of South Carolina so that she could pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Following graduation, she moved to Charleston, South Carolina and worked as a research assistant in Biochemistry at the Medical University of South Carolina, an opportunity that led to her meeting her future husband, Art, who was attending medical school there. This transition period also led Virginia to the Episcopal church which became a major facet of her life.
After marriage in 1976, she went on to conduct research in Diet and Nutrition to support her Master’s Degree. Those studies were curtailed in 1979, when she and Art welcomed their first child, Jennifer, before relocating to Lansing, Michigan for Art’s residency in Emergency Medicine. While in Michigan, their second daughter, Ashley, was born before they moved to Virginia Beach, where they welcomed the arrival of their third daughter, Maggie. In 1984, they moved again to Rocky Mount, North Carolina with their three girls. There Virginia became an active member of the Medical Auxiliary, serving as Vice President, and the PTA for her children’s schools. Five years later, they relocated to Chuckatuck, Virginia and bought a beautiful, Victorian farm house on the water which she and Art lovingly renovated and called home for over 20 years.
While there, Virginia found joy supporting her children’s passions including dance, music, and theater, and eventually founded the Fine Arts Center in Suffolk, Virginia offering both training and performance opportunities to children. In addition to her leadership of the center, she also supported the numerous productions her three children performed in, often working backstage. This interest in and dedication to the performing arts led Virginia to become a board member of Young Audiences of Virginia, eventually becoming president of the board.
Christ remained central to Virginia’s life no matter how busy she was. As a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chuckatuck, she sang in the choir and was involved in the coordination of numerous church activities including Sunday School and the Episcopal Youth Community. After the girls graduated from high school, she found a new interest in antiques, focusing on linens, and began buying and selling in a local antique mall. She and Art also began attending St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk, Virginia, where she also sang in the choir.
In 2007, she and Art relocated part-time to Edenton, North Carolina, where she opened HisHers Antiques, her second brick-and-mortar business. She also leaned into her biochemistry background and developed her own linen wash, which she used to care for the linens she bought and sold. 2008 brought another new opportunity, and she and Art moved even further south relocating to Tupelo, Mississippi. On the same day she signed the lease for the new location of HisHers, Virginia also received her ovarian cancer diagnosis, but was determined to open the shop. This time, she expanded the business in a different direction, adding Tea for T’arts, a traditional English tearoom with the lunch service gratuities going to area arts organizations. In the tearoom, she and her staff hosted numerous birthday parties, bridal showers, and several “Downton Abbey Dinners” for guests, and became a destination for area visitors and locals alike. In Tupelo, she also rekindled her passion for the arts joining the board of the Gum Tree Museum, and supporting the Tupelo Community Theater, Tupelo Ballet, and the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. She also found a new spiritual home at All Saints Episcopal Church, singing in the choir, and obtained the Education for Ministry certificate, a four-year program offered by the School of Theology at the University of the South. In most recent years, Virginia put her research experience from college back to work, but this time she explored her own heritage, tracing her roots back to the 16th Century, and was inducted into the Daughters of the American Revolution with her then 103-year-old mother, Helen, and her three daughters.
Rather than give into the disease, she adopted a “living with cancer” attitude and she and Art continued to travel between treatments, often bringing along their family or visiting friends across the country. Though her energy failed her more as time progressed, she remained as present as possible for those she loved, often sitting in a chair in the kitchen so she could she laugh and reminisce during the holidays or saving all her energy to play a family game of Scrabble in the evening.
For Virginia, life was about others – making others feel welcome and valued. She was the epitome of Southern charm and grace, and treated all with kindness and compassion. She loved to entertain and fostered the creation of numerous traditions from cast party cakes that had every member of the company represented on it to the annual Christmas Cookie Baking Day which will continue in her absence. She was a passionate lifelong learner and an engaged member of her community no matter where she lived. From Garden Clubs to Ski Clubs, Virginia found enjoyment in an array of activities throughout her life, and fostered a love of learning, exploring, and entertaining in each of her three girls.
She is survived by her husband of 46 years, Art, her daughters, Jennifer, Ashley and Maggie, and her brother, Mike. Her mother, Helen, predeceased her this past March at the age of 107.
The service celebrating the life of this remarkable woman will be held on Saturday, October 16, 2021 in All Saints Episcopal Church in Tupelo at 11 a.m., and will be streamed on the church’s Facebook page for those unable to attend in person. Reception will follow in the Parish Hall. Masks and vaccination are recommended. Ladies are encouraged to wear their favorite Sunday service hat or fascinator. W.E. Pegues Funeral Directors has been entrusted with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be sent to All Saints Episcopal Church of Tupelo or the Audubon Society.
Expressions of sympathy may be left at