Virginia Gale Martin Dent was born August 12, 1924 in Princeton, Missouri, the oldest of Neal D. and Florence Miller Martin, and departed this life on February 7, 2020 at her home in Salem.
During her days as a child, Virginia and her family lived in North Dakota and Illinois following her father’s work on the railroad, but Princeton was always where they returned. While attending Princeton High School, Virginia was an active member of band where she served as drum major and took saxophone solos to district, state and national contest where she excelled. Following graduation, she attended Chillicothe Business College and later secured a position on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives as its chief stenographer. It was on the floor of the House that she learned of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and it was in the personnel office of the House of Representatives where, upon snooping through the personal information of the handsome and dashing new representative from Salem, Missouri, the honorable James F. Dent, she was caught and asked out on a date, A resolution was adopted on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives congratulating the young couple who were subsequently married May 6, 1945.
Together, Jim and Virginia were actively involved in the Salem community. They worked tirelessly with others to bring former President Harry S. Truman to visit Salem and were instrumental in establishing the hot lunch program for the Salem School system through the local PTA.
Virginia served as President of the Monday Civics Club who purchased the land for the current City Park which the club later deeded to the city. She was a 50+ year member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a past Mother Advisor of Salem Assembly#17, International Order of Rainbow for Girls, a long-time secretary for the Salem Preceptory of the Grand Cross of Color and worked alongside Jim in his Masonic endeavors.
A 50+ year member of the United Methodist Church, Virginia taught Sunday school and served on many committees such as the Staff Parish Relations Committee, Administrative Board and the Memorial Committee which she helped found. She was a former member of the American Legion Auxiliary where she enjoyed making poppies and the University of Missouri Extension Council where she served as Chairperson. Virginia spent countless hours driving her daughters to school functions, music lessons and band rehearsals and gave tirelessly of her time and efforts to benefit the youth of the Salem community. Virginia enjoyed traveling, going on cruises and playing bridge with local clubs for over 70 years.
Virginia was preceded in death by her parents and her husband and is survived by two daughters: Louise Dent Davis and friend, Bob Myers, of the state of Kansas, and Catherine Dent and husband, Hobie Porter, of Salem; one grandson, Thaddeus Dent Davis and wife, Debra, of the state of New York and one great granddaughter, Emerson Davis also of the state of New York; one brother, George B. Martin and wife June, of Austin Texas and one sister, Ruth Porter, Lineville, Iowa, several nieces and nephews.
It was important for Virginia to remember and be remembered for her many contributions to her community, her church and civic life. She kept countless scrapbooks and clippings of many of those activities and she felt that what she did was important at the time she was involved. Countless people whose lives she influenced and those who looked up to her often dropped by in their later years to check on Virginia. Virginia left a wonderful legacy for the town she called home.
Funeral Services for Virginia Gale Martin Dent were held on Monday February 10, 2020 with Pastor Gayle Blankenship officiating. Interment was in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Salem. Serving as pallbearers were, Gary Medlock, Justin Loveday, Jerry Brooks, Mike Thompson, Roger Brooks, Mark Weaver, David Johnson and Tom Dillon. Honorary Pallbearers were, Randy Land, Jim Freeman, Larry Sensintaffar, Dan Echols, Vance Adams, Sherman Odom. Memorials are suggested to Mt Hermon Methodist Church.