G. W. Abernathy, age 97, of Elk Creek, Va., died peacefully at home on Dec. 5, 2012, following a brief illness.
George was born at Nuttall in Gloucester County, Va., on Sept. 19, 1915, to the late Charles and Sarah ("Sadie") Abernathey, the second of 10 children, five girls and five boys. He was known from an early age for his strength and determination. He delighted in challenging strong-arm men to heavy weightlifting of automobile rear-ends as well as grinding stones at Cow Creek Mill and Burke’s Mill.
He attended Botetourt School in Gloucester and as the Great Depression deepened, he left school to seek employment and independence. He decided to join the Army and took off for Fort Monroe, stayed one night, and returned home. Upon being questioned by his siblings, he responded, "Blame bedbugs nearly ate me up!"
He later joined the Civilian Conservation Corps at a salary of $29 per month, $26 of which was sent back to his family to help "save the farm" from a $12 monthly loan payment to the Baltimore Land and Trust Company.
At his subsequent employment, driving buses in Richmond, he met Martha Ruth Lemmon, a regular bus rider; romance and marriage ensued. After moving to Roanoke, George joined the Navy, serving PT boat duty in the Mediterranean during World War II, after which he pursued a degree in accounting. This led to a supervisory position with the FBI in New York City, which was then followed by training new agents in Alexandria, Va.
During this time, George and Martha adopted a beautiful baby girl, Beth, whom they adored.
Retiring in 1971 in Winston-Salem, N.C., George enjoyed golfing and real estate classes. His last several years were spent in Elk Creek, Va., sharing his wisdom and skills with his daughter Beth and her husband Mickey Rowe, as they remodeled their 130-year-old home.
George was preceded in death by his wife, Martha; his sisters, Virginia Heywood of Bena, Va., Margery Hughes of Newport News, Va., Anne Henshaw of Richmond, Va., and brothers, Aaron, Ashley, and Henry, all of Gloucester, and Leslie of Newport News, Va.
He is survived by his daughter, Beth Abernathy and her husband Mickey Rowe, and two sisters, Bessie Emory of Gloucester, Va., and Kathryn Lemmon of Natural Bridge Station, Va., as well as many nieces and nephews.
Services were private.
Donations may be made in his memory to a charity of your choice.