Virginia Wilson Warren, born October 7th, 1924 to the late Martha Jane Hester Warren and Elias Luther Warren, was the youngest of four children. She grew up on the family farm during the 20’s and 30’s, with a heavy dose of daily chores. She attended Goodwill School through grade 7, and then moved to Kernersville High School, graduating in 1941.
In the fall of 1941, Virginia enrolled at Draughon’s Business College, in Winston-Salem, and began a series of classes in accounting, bookkeeping, and office management. Her sister Mary had taken classes at Draughon’s, and Virginia saw Mary’s experience as a good example to follow. Her brother Hester generously paid her way through school, and was a constant source of support.
In January of 1942, Sam Vance Jr. visited the Warren home place to offer Virginia a job at the Vance & Ring Hosiery Mill in Kernersville. He needed a secretary, and the small town grapevine had informed him of the perfect candidate in Virginia Warren. Although her course of study at Draughon’s was not yet complete, Virginia accepted the job and continued with night classes.
Virginia’s skills and work ethic were a perfect fit for the busy office at Vance & Ring. Her role quickly expanded as she became the mill’s bookkeeper and payroll administrator. She was entrusted to write and sign all checks. Her hard work and dedication became indispensible to Sam Vance and the mill’s operation.
At this point in her life, Virginia left home and moved to Kernersville. She lived at the Linville Boarding House on West Mountain Street, sharing a room with Idell Linville. This experience began a lifelong friendship between Virginia and Idell.
It’s now 1945, and World War II, the event that had dominated everyday life, had come to an end. Victory-Over-Japan (VJ) day was celebrated as the end of the war on August 14th of that year. Virginia remembers spending that day at home with her mother, relieved that her brothers Bill and Hester would be coming home, and hopeful that daily life would return to normal.
Another soldier returning home was Charlie Snow, a man Virginia barely knew. Charlie returned to Kernersville, and like everyone else, went about deciding what to do with his life. He built a roof over a 9 foot wide alley between his father’s old clothing store and the P&N Dime Store. That humble structure opened as Snow’s Ice Cream and Sandwich Shop on May 19th, 1947.
That summer, Virginia met Charlie Snow. They had been distant small town acquaintances, but their real introduction can be credited to Brady Mullinax. On a Sunday evening, Brady arranged to pick up Virginia at the Linville home and take her to a movie at Kernersville’s Pickfair Theater. Brady showed up with his future wife Mary, and Charlie. Virginia remembers it wasn’t clear who was with whom until Brady nudged her into the back seat with Charlie, and off they went.
Despite Charlie’s charming personality, Virginia found it awkward to be with a man who was shorter than she was. High heels became a thing of the past, and with time, Kernersville’s newest restaurateur grew on her. They married on September 4th, 1948.
As Virginia continued her hectic Vance & Ring work schedule, she also became an integral part of the operation at Snow’s. She became the restaurant’s bookkeeper, assisted with the payroll, and worked as cashier during her Vance & Ring lunch hour. She prepared a variety of pies and cakes that became a hallmark of the restaurant’s daily fare. Customers loved her strawberry shortcake, made with cake from her kitchen and topped with fresh strawberries she picked from local fields. A close second was “Igloos”, made with three butter cookies, layered with crushed pineapple, covered with whipped cream, and rolled in coconut.
Success with desserts led Virginia to become an expert cake maker and decorator. She designed and made wedding cakes professionally, as well as a variety of creatively designed confections she prepared for special occasions and holidays. Nieces, nephews and acquaintances have fond memories of birthday cakes, doll cakes, sugar Easter egg confections, or baby cakes they received to celebrate the special days of their lives.
Virginia’s mastery with cakes was an example of many areas in which she was a self-taught expert. She excelled in needlepoint. Her home, and the homes of numerous gift recipients, were filled with meticulous needlepoint designs. She was also adept at decoupage. Vegetable gardening was another area of intense interest. Growing her own food was in line with her thrift habits which were formed during the Depression years of her childhood.
This same period of Virginia’s life was when she and Charlie began to raise a family. Charlie Frank was born in 1951, followed by Dwight and Warren, each at three year intervals. As it turned out, Charlie Frank and Dwight share the same February 21st birthday, which was also their Grandfather’s birthday. When asked how such a coincidence could have happened, Virginia’s answer was “good timing”.
During the early years of their marriage, Virginia relied heavily on her mother-in-law, Lake Gray Snow. Out of necessity, Charlie and Virginia lived at the Snow home place until they moved into their home on Union Cross Road. During this time, Lake played a major role in helping to raise the children while Charlie and Virginia worked. Out of this, Virginia formed a strong bond of love and respect for her mother-in-law.
Although the work demands on her busy life continued to exist, her children became Virginia’s most important purpose. She was driven to provide every opportunity for their development. She became a never-ending “taxi” service, carrying them to and from piano lessons, art classes, little league, scout meetings, band practice, tutoring, vacation bible school, summer camp, and the dozens of other activities she arranged for her children. She was also the family zoo keeper. Every Easter her young children received a carefully selected pet. This began with bunnies, hamsters, and small turtles. Then it expanded to larger animals like ponies, sheep, goats, and Saint Bernard dogs. In later years this evolved to more exotic species like peacocks and Charlie, the talking mynah bird. Through it all, Virginia maintained a constant energy to provide every opportunity for her children. Their lives are a testament to her perseverance and love.
Virginia was an active participant in her community. She loved being a member of the Kernersville Garden Club. Her habit was to modestly accept the least desirable plot the Club offered, and transform it into a showcase. She especially remembers the triangular plot of mostly hard red clay within the intersection next to Park’s Chevrolet….also known to you old timers as next to Bad-Eye Hendrick’s place. She and Charlie would toil endlessly, while choking on car exhaust and waving to everyone who honked as they passed by.
Virginia always looked forward to outings with the Red Hot and Spicy Hatters of Kernersville. Her Red Hat group always provided an excuse to wear her special red and purple outfits, don her favorite red hat, and see her friends.
Virginia loved to travel. Each summer, with young Warren as her travel mate, they’d go on bus tours sponsored by Forrest Harmon of the Forsyth County Agriculture Department. Later, with Becky Coltrane as her roommate, they explored the 50 states, Mexico, Canada, and then on to Europe and Australia. On some trips, Charlie would get away from the restaurant to join her for a few days, leaving the business in the capable hands of Susie York.
Virginia was always impeccably dressed. You would usually find her in perfect color-coordinated outfits with matching accessories and appropriate fingernail polish and lipstick. Much of her fashion success can be credited to her sister Mary, who was adept at finding great clothes for her at bargain basement prices. This kept what appeared to be a lavish clothing habit within a tight shoestring budget.
Her pristine appearance was an example of the attention to detail she paid to many aspects of her life. She was very organized……..her secret……3x5 cards. If you gave her, or Charlie, a gift, you promptly received a warmly written, grammatically correct, and properly addressed thank you note. Remarkably, you’d find these same traits in her children’s thank you notes. And at the Soda Shop, if you asked for a slice of tomato on your cheeseburger, you paid an extra 5 cents if Virginia was at the cash register.
Virginia loved to win things. In 1979, on a whim, she entered Charlie’s name for a sweepstakes sponsored by Southern Living Magazine. Months later, a certified letter arrived with the news that Charlie was the grand prize winner of $15,000. Virginia was forever more hooked on sweepstakes and contests. Over the years, she won hundreds of prizes including TV’s and trips. Unfortunately, she never won the annual Lion’s Club car raffle, and Ed McMahon never showed up at the front door with that big check.
Virginia loved her church. As longtime members of First Baptist, Virginia and Charlie were actively involved in all aspects of church activities. In her later years, she especially enjoyed the camaraderie of the B Friendly Club. The people of First Baptist Church have been a strong network of faith, love, and support to Virginia, for which she is grateful.
Virginia has been a resident of Kerner Ridge Assisted Living Center for the past six years. Despite medical setbacks and the ravages of Parkinson’s disease, she maintained a positive outlook with a bright smile and a sparkle in her blue eyes. Charlie Frank and Susan attended to her needs on a daily basis, every step of the way. And her grandmother’s final years were an enduring part of Alexandra’s life.
The family is grateful to the staff of Kerner Ridge, and Hospice of Winston-Salem for the care they have provided.
Virginia Snow is survived by her sons: Charles Franklin Snow III and his wife Susan Sears Snow of Kernersville, NC; Dwight Wesley Snow and his wife Susan Doss Snow of Dunn, NC; and Warren Wilson Snow and his wife Susan Jane Mong of Marshall, VA. She is also survived by three grandchildren, Miles Dwight Snow, Greta Elizabeth Snow, and Susan Alexandra Snow, and by her nieces and nephews who were all very special to her.
Virginia Snow was many things to many people. She will be fondly remembered as a beloved sister, a faithful wife, a loving mother and grandmother, a special Aunt, a devoted Christian, an insatiable traveler, an avid Red Hatter, a tireless worker, a gardener with a green thumb, and a true friend.