Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Obituary Archives

October 22, 2013

Nancy Elizabeth Thomason Jessee

RICHLANDS — Nancy Elizabeth Thomason Jessee, who had been a mother, homemaker, registered nurse and retail worker in Richlands for 65 years, died Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013 at Claypool Hill, with her loving daughter, Nancy, at her side.  She was 89 years old.

Lib was the widow of Robert Ira “Bob” Jessee, who died on April 21; they had been married for 67 years.

Lib grew up in Martinsville, one of four children of Robert Wiley Thomason and Lillian Gertrude Williams Thomason. She graduated from Martinsville High School and went to Roanoke to pursue a medical career at the Lewis-Gale School of Nursing.

While attending nursing school, she met Bob, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Force who was traveling by train between Richlands and Langley Field. They stayed in touch while he was in England during World War II.

Lib graduated from Lewis-Gale and found a job as a registered nurse at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. When Bob returned from the war, he went to Nashville and proposed. She accepted and they were married in Rossville, Ga.

Bob was attending Emory and Henry College. Lib went to work for Dr. R.L. Hillman, a general practitioner who served the college and the community. When one of Dr. Hillman's patients went into labor, he and Lib would go to the patient's house and deliver the baby there.

Exactly one year after she and Bob were married, Lib participated in a home birth of her own, in the upstairs front bedroom of a house across the railroad tracks from the Emory and Henry campus - in the middle of a blizzard - and Randy was born.

The young family moved in 1948 to Richlands, where Lib worked for a short time as a floor nurse at the former Clinch Valley Clinic Hospital. She was the worrier in the family, so her concerns about the people she cared for came home with her. Later in life, the children would learn that when they were traveling, Lib was sitting at home, calculating where they were and watching the clock and waiting for the “We're here” call.

Although she gave up fulltime nursing, Lib retained one important piece of medical equipment: her very own hypodermic needle. For years, when members of the family needed allergy shots or vitamin injections, Lib would boil her syringe and administer the prescribed medication.

The family moved from the Dalton Addition to Lee Street in the early 1950s. Tom and Nancy were born at Mattie Williams Hospital. The lights of the delivery room were clearly visible from the house on the hill, and Lib's mother was saying, “That's where your brother (or sister) is being born.”

In the late 1960s, Lib decided to go back to work and took a job at Cury's clothing store. She was apprehensive but she turned out to be a natural for the work. From A.B. and Regina Cury, she learned how to assess a customer's needs and to recognize new items that would be perfect for a particular customer. She thrived on the daily contact with friends and customers on Front Street.

When Bob retired, Lib kept working for a time but gradually eased into retirement as well. They took up golf at Wolf Creek Golf Club in Bastian.

Lib loved the regular gatherings of her Rook club and taking trips to the Barter Theater in Abingdon and Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre in Wytheville. As recently as 2001, she took a bus tour to New York City for several days of sightseeing and Broadway shows.

When all of the children were at home, family vacations at Hungry Mother State Park were a favorite activity; in later years, she enjoyed stays at Pipestem State Park.

She was a member of First United Methodist Church in Richlands.

In addition to her husband and parents, Lib was preceded in death by her brothers, James Grady Thomason and William Randolph Thomason.

She is survived by three children, Nancy Alice Jessee Henderson of Richlands and her husband, Dean; Robert Thomason Jessee of Holden Beach, N.C., and his wife, Janice; and James Randolph Jessee of Glen Allen, Va., and his wife, Leslie-Jean; and a sister, Louise W. Grigg of Martinsville.

Also, four grandchildren, Patrick Randolph Jessee of Purcellville, Va., and his wife, Stacy; Kelley Erin Jessee of Falls Church, Va.; Christopher Matthew Jessee of Roanoke, and his fiancée, Brandy Gray; and Kristen Elizabeth Henderson-Jackson of Council, and her husband, Neil.

Also, two great-grandchildren, Tyler Warren Jessee and Claire Elizabeth Jessee, both of Purcellville, Va.; a niece, Mary Margaret Grigg of Martinsville; and a nephew, John Grigg of Aruba.

Also, her caregivers, Barb Coleman, Ashley Dye, Sandra Cosby, Angel Stilwell and Judy Stilwell; and close friends, Fay and Ray Ryan, Patricia Wade, Christine Hooker, Rod Cury, Barbara Wilson, Lucy Hunter, Jane Mulkey, Valerie Hurt and Stephanie McVey.

A memorial service for Lib and Bob will be held Wednesday at Hurst-Scott Funeral Home in Richlands. The family will receive visitors at 1 p.m., followed by the service at 2 p.m.

The family suggests that memorial donations may be made to First United Methodist Church, Richlands; the Good Samaritan Food Pantry; the Southwest Virginia Community College Foundation; the American Cancer Society; the Tazewell County Animal Shelter; or a favorite charity.

Hurst-Scott Funeral Home in Richlands, Virginia is in charge of arrangements and those wishing to express sympathy online may do so at

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