A GREAT Ol’ Soldier has Joined the Ancestors!

Posted on June 18, 2011 by


Mr. Patrick B. Venable, during his 105th birthday celebration, July 2008

The Venable family gives thanks for the volition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writer that led him to pursue this story and do a very good article. We hope you find value in its presentation here in Visions & Victories.

Amelia tobacco farmer, former gospel singer Patrick Venable dies at 107
by RANDY HALLMAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch | Posted: Saturday, June 18, 2011 1:00 am

What makes a long life worthwhile?
Patrick Bert Venable lived just shy of 108 years and here is his answer.

He worked the land, made a living, fed his family, stayed healthy until his last days, became a deacon in his church, sang the gospel music he loved, delighted friends with tales from his long memory, adored his wife and children. He died peacefully, his family said, on June 8 at his home in Amelia County.

Mr. Venable had been a farmer all his life, as a 6-year-old behind an ox-drawn plow, then as a young man during the Great Depression, earning a nickel a day and glad to get it. He was a sharecropper for years, but land he was promised in return was never given to him, his family said. Nevertheless, he and his wife were able to settle on 7 acres of their own and he raised and cured tobacco. He also used it, defying medical probabilities by regularly smoking a pipe and occasionally lighting up a cigar or tucking a chaw in his cheek.

His son-in-law, Mxolisi T. Sowell of Amelia, said Mr. Venable amazed his doctors on his rare visits with his healthy heart and ideal blood pressure. “They would ask him, ‘What are you doing, Mr. Venable? We need to bottle it, whatever it is.’ And he would tell them that one thing he did was stay away from doctors.”

At 96 he was active enough to climb a tree to do some pruning. And when he caught his foot on the limbs and couldn’t climb down, he choreographed his own rescue rather than let the family call a rescue squad.

Alice Worsham of Amelia, who knew Mr. Venable since she was a young girl six decades ago, recalled the courtly manners and sharp-dressed look that made him a magnet for children and “the ladies.” And as an older man, she said, he “would always gather a congregation — people wanted to hear him tell stories.”

His daughter, Roberta Venable of Amelia, said one of his favorite stories was his recollection of the first automobile he ever saw. Born July 22, 1903, (five months before the Wright Brothers made their first powered flights) he was 3 or 4 when one of those early cars came bouncing through Amelia. “It scared him to death,” his daughter said. “He remembered running to hide behind his mother’s long dress.”

He was an extraordinary farmer, raising what he liked to boast was “the best tobacco in the county,” and more, she said. “In the ’50s,” she said, “everything we ate, he raised — except coffee, sugar and some condiments. He raised corn, wheat, tomatoes, vegetables of all kinds, pigs, cows. It was good food and we all grew up healthy.”

Among Worsham’s favorite memories was listening to the Venable Brothers gospel group — five brothers in all — sing at churches in the area. His love of music stayed with him. His son-in-law said that long after the brothers had dispersed, Mr. Venable’s deep, distinctive voice would ring out at his church. And during his final months he would often sing at home. “Where he leads me, I will follow. I will go with him, with him all the way.”

And though he seemed perfectly content for his life to be done, said his son-in-law, Mr. Venable would look out onto his fields and a tobacco-drying hut he had built himself, now in disrepair, and say, “I’ve got to get out there and fix that hut.”

A long life, worthwhile.

Mr. Venable was the widower of Sadie Dennis Venable, his wife of 71 years. His survivors include a brother, John Venable of Hampton; six of his nine children, in addition to Roberta Venable four other daughters, Mable Brown of Richmond and Virginia Bradley, Helen Venable and Mary Sowell, all of Amelia; a son, Patrick C. Venable of Highland Springs; 14 of his 17 grandchildren, 26 of his 28 great-grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren.

A memorial service was held at Amelia’s Zion Hill United Presbyterian Church.

One Response “A GREAT Ol’ Soldier has Joined the Ancestors!” →
1 Trackback For This Post
  1. A Son’s Undying Love for Father; A Father’s Painful Love for Son! « Visions & Victories

    […] PS: Here’s another great Father article that you might appreciate — https://hcvoice.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/a-great-ol-soldier-has-joined-the-ancestors/ […]

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