Former Virginia first lady ‘Jinks’ Holton dies at 97

Dec 15, 2022, 11:50 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2022, 4:00 pm
FILE - Roanoke, Va., Mayor Sherman Lea, left, applauds after former Virginia Gov Gov. A. Linwood Ho...

FILE - Roanoke, Va., Mayor Sherman Lea, left, applauds after former Virginia Gov Gov. A. Linwood Holton Jr., and his wife Virginia "Jinks" Rogers Holton cut the ribbon for the dedication of the newly renovated Linwood Plaza in downtown Roanoke, Va. on Oct. 16, 2017. Virginia Holton died Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, at her home, her family said in a statement. She was 97. (Stephanie Klein-Davis/The Roanoke Times via AP, File)

(Stephanie Klein-Davis/The Roanoke Times via AP, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia “Jinks” Rogers Holton, a former first lady of Virginia, died Friday morning at her home, her family said in a statement. She was 97.

Holton was the wife of the late Republican Gov. A. Linwood Holton Jr., who served in the 1970s and declared an end to “Massive Resistance,” Virginia’s institutional defiance of federal orders to desegregate its schools. She was also the mother of another Virginia first lady, Anne Holton, wife to former governor and current U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.

Anne Holton and her three siblings said in a joint statement issued by Kaine’s office that Jinks Holton died peacefully at her home in a retirement community in Irvington, Virginia.

They did not provide a cause of death. Her death comes a year after that of her husband, to whom she was married for 67 years.

Jinks Holton, as she was widely known, was a partner with her husband in what became “the family business: racial justice and civil rights for all Virginians,” the statement said.

The Holtons enrolled their own white children in predominantly Black schools rather than fight school busing.

“She and Dad together decided, when he was Governor, that our family would help integrate Virginia’s public schools, tearing down barriers to employment, and opening opportunities for all,” the siblings said.

Jinks Holton was a regular volunteer on Habitat for Humanity builds and a supporter of children’s causes throughout her life, including through her work to improve nutrition for Virginia’s children during her time as first lady, according to the statement.

She spoke multiple languages and spent two years after college working in Belgium for a precursor to the CIA, “running intelligence agents as the U.S. worked to manage the post-war complexities of Europe,” her family said. She told her parents she was a secretary at an embassy.

“On top of all this, to us she was Mom. She helped us with school work. She drove us to music lessons and sports practice. She made us molasses cookies and chocolate silk pie. She taught us the values and priorities of family and community and justice that have shaped who we all are — and in turn shaped our children,” her children said.

Jinks Holton, who was born in Roanoke, also joined her husband, Kaine and Anne Holton in 2006 in opposing a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Kaine tweeted that his mother-in-law led “an amazing life, filled with family and purpose.”

“I’ve been deeply moved in the last year to see Anne so fulfill the role of daughter as she’s helped both her parents pass gracefully from life to heavenly peace,” he said.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin said he and his wife, Suzanne, joined others across the state in mourning.

“She served Virginians from 1970-74 and educated families about nutrition, restored public mansion tours, & embraced community service as a passion,” he tweeted.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Former Virginia first lady ‘Jinks’ Holton dies at 97