Jessie “Virginia” Strickland (nee Sanders), 88, of Lakeland, FL. Devout Christian, adoring wife, loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, passed away last Thursday, October 7, 2021, from pneumonia.

Virginia was born January 4, 1933, in Lakeland, Florida. The only child to survive childhood, she was the daughter of Jesse DeWitt Sanders and Clara Ola Sanders (nee Bodiford). She was predeceased by Freeman Junior Strickland, her husband of 58 years. While she grew up without living brothers and sisters, she is survived by her cousins Faye, Yvonne and Yvette who were like sisters to her; by her three sons Tony, Jerry and David; by her daughters-in-law Opal, Saundra and Norma; by her seven grandchildren Anthony, Caity, Chris, Erin, Jeremy, Sandy and April and by their spouses Niki, Geraldine, Brent, Jacquelyn, Ryan and Jason; and by her fifteen great-grandchildren Maris, James, Sienna, Ayden, Austin, Madison, Layla, Savannah, Jesse, Caden, Slate, Jocelyn, Coen, Talia and Giana.

Virginia loved Jesus and the Baptist Church. She supported the tent meetings at the missions that became Dixie Highway Baptist Church in Auburndale and Westside Baptist Church in Lakeland, and she was a long-time member of both churches. She was a Sunday School helper, a Vacation Bible School volunteer, and an emergency pianist. When she could no longer attend church, she still watched services on TV, and she continued to pray and read her Bible from cover to cover; the last time, she started at the Book of Revelation and read to Genesis because she had never read the Bible that way before.
Virginia was a faithful, loving, life-long friend to so many – neighbors, church members, schoolmates, friends of friends and extended family. A graduate of Lakeland Senior High School, she continued to meet regularly with fellow alums until her health failed in the last few years. Even then, she tried to follow friends and family with Facebook and with phone calls, cards, and letters.

Virginia’s love for family was boundless, and the best times were family times – driving to Orlando after church for lunch with her husband’s family; catching the train to visit her dad’s family in Tennessee and Kentucky; taking the kids and grand-kids and great-grandkids to the beach or Disney World; weddings, child births, birthdays, anniversaries – her joy during these times with family was always illuminating. Her loving marriage to Freeman of fifty-eight years was blessed by three generations of descendants; each person a special treasure that brought her unique pride and joy. Her memory brings pride and joy to each of us.

The family will receive friends on Saturday October 16, 2021, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Heath Funeral Chapel at 328 S, Ingram Avenue off US Highway 98. Funeral services will begin at 3 p.m., and interment will follow at Oak Hill Burial Park. Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.

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