Lellen Rice Dawson, of Salem, Va., age 95, went to her heavenly home on Monday, June 3, 2019.
She was preceded in death by her devoted husband of 69 years, Robert Custer Dawson, a former Postmaster of Salem. Lellen was a daughter of the late Howard Strouse Rice and Ellen Blair Wiley Rice.
Lellen attended Andrew Lewis High School in Salem, and Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. As a young lady, Lellen sold real estate after college, loved to travel, and modeled for James Powers, Heironimus, and Smartwear Irving Saks. Lellen was very active in the local community and in the political arena. She was President of the Salem Junior Guild, and the Salem Needlework Guild which provided clothing for underprivileged children in the Salem City School system. Lellen was also a member and docent at the Salem Historical Society, and a member of the Salem Book Club. She enjoyed participating in the Elderscholar Programs at Roanoke College, and she was a member of Salem Presbyterian Church. In her later life, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren continued to bring her the utmost joy.
Lellen was known as the quintessential Southern belle. She was enchanting, warm, kind, and she had that alluring southern drawl. She was also a firecracker, the life of the party, and she enjoyed painting the town red. She had a sparkle in her eye, and a smile which lit up the room.
Until the age of 91, Lellen continued to flourish and live independently. She spent her final years at Brookdale Senior Living in Salem before moving to South Roanoke Nursing Home in late April of this year.
Lellen is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Channing and Kendall Johnson; granddaughter, Jordan Johnson-Sneed and husband, Chris; grandson, Blair Johnson and his fiancée, Emily Bryant; and two great-grandchildren, Jaycee Grace and Jadelyn Harper Sneed. She is also survived by her beautiful sister, Emily Ann Marsteller, of Washington, DC.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Clement Binnings, Dr. William Ball, Estella Watson, Danielle Ratliff, Jessica Palmer, Tracy Terry, Olivia Coalson, Robin Brabham, Marvin Crump, and Ashley Boardley Smith for the excellent care and loving devotion to Lellen over the years. We also must recognize all the extraordinary nurses and CNAs at South Roanoke Nursing Home. Their care, compassion, and commitment to Lellen has been truly superior, and such a tremendous blessing to our family.
The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday evening, June 6, 2019, at the John M. Oakey & Son Funeral Home in Salem. The funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 7, 2019, in the funeral home’s chapel with Rev. Kendall Johnson officiating. Interment will follow at Sherwood Memorial Park.
If you wish, memorials may be made to the Salem Presbyterian Church. Online condolences may be expressed at www.johnmoakey.com.