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Vera Hodges Webb, mother of U.S. Senator Jim Webb, died Jan. 3 in Jacksonville, North Carolina after a long illness. She was 85.
Vera Lorraine Hodges was born in Kensett, Arkansas, on June 24, 1925, to Birch Hays Hodges and Georgia Frankie Doyle. One of eight children, by the time Mrs. Webb was ten years old the hardships of rural Arkansas had caused two of her sisters and one brother, as well as her father, to die of illnesses that would be preventable or treatable in today’s America. From an early age, Mrs. Webb and her siblings worked year-round by chopping and picking cotton, picking strawberries, cutting and ricking wood, and through other agricultural pursuits.
When World War II began, Mrs. Webb’s mother found work helping to build bomber aircraft as a “Rosie the Riveter,” and was forced to leave Mrs. Webb in the care of an older sister who later moved to Monahans, Texas. There, at the age of seventeen, Mrs. Webb met her future husband James Henry Webb, Sr., who was stationed in Monahans as an Army Air Corps pilot. Then-Captain Webb offered her his seat on a bus, followed her home, and convinced her to marry him three months later.
Mrs. Webb spent most of the following years as an Air Force spouse, bearing four children and accompanying Col. Webb on his military assignments throughout the United States and also in England. An avid gardener and student of American history, she was a devoted mother, grandmother, and proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She is survived by children Patricia Lorraine Myers of Marietta, Georgia, son James Henry Webb, Jr., of Falls Church, Virginia, daughter Tama Sue McKee of Jacksonville, North Carolina, son Gary Lee Webb of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as well as 18 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.