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Oldest living Virginian, Avicia Thorpe, passes away on Christmas Eve

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 10:34 PM EST
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - A lot has changed in 112 years.

But every year since 1908, someone somewhere has celebrated Avicia Thorpe’s birthday.

“Just seeing all those people in the community came together for Miss Thorpe. If you don’t know anything about her, that right there just shows you how much she means to the community,” said Karly Pulley, who helped organize Thorpe’s 112th birthday party.

That last party happened mostly over Zoom, and included a parade of first responders at the Stratford Health and Rehabilitation Center, where Thorpe spent the better part of the last decade.

“She truly never gave up,” Pulley remembers. “She said she was ready, but she never gave up.”

Thorpe was born during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency. She lived long enough to watch two world wars come and go, to marry, and then lose, her husband, the Rev. Charles Manley Thorpe. She was a fixture of the civil rights movement in Danville, and her family says, a dedicated poet.

Above all, they say, she was a child of God.

“She was a wonderful Christian woman with a strong faith in God,” said Carol Allen, Thorpe’s great niece. “Until her very last days, she believed that God was keeping her here.”

Thorpe passed away peacefully on Christmas Eve at Stratford.

In her professional life, she was a teacher. Those who knew her say, at 112, she was teaching even still.

“Miss Thorpe is going to live on in the hearts of everyone that works at Stratford,” said Karly Pulley.

“She leaves as her legacy all the children she taught through the years,” said Allen.

A viewing for Ms. Thorpe will be held Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fisher and Watkins Funeral Home in Danville. Her funeral will be held Thursday at 11 a.m.

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