Mary Virginia “Ginnie” Settle Lowther, 87, died September 4, 2022 at her home in Buckhannon, W.Va., surrounded and supported by family, including her husband of nearly 69 years, Dewayne Rymer Lowther.
She was born March 3, 1935, in Parkersburg, W.Va. to Samuel Brittan Settle and LaVantia Pearl Elliott Settle.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sister, June Elise Edwards, and mother-in-law and father-in-law, Catherine and Russell Lowther.
She is survived by her three daughters: Paula Vantia McGrew, of (Gary) Buckhannon, Sarah Virginia Hensley (Michael), of Fairmont, W.Va., Mary Catherine Perkins (Michael), of St. Clairsville, Ohio; seven grandchildren: Stephen Russell Brothers-McGrew, Amy LaVantia McGrew Hayslette, Catherine Brittany Perkins Janezic, Kelsey Michelle Perkins, Aaron Lander Perkins, Christian Dewayne Perkins and Samuel Timothy Hensley; four great-grandchildren: Miranda Grace Hayslette, Aurora Dawn Louise Perkins, Zoey Madalyn Hayslette and Olivia Elizabeth Janezic; sister, Carol Ruth Thompson, of Huntington, W.Va.; and several beloved nieces, nephews and extended family.
A 1953 graduate of Parkersburg High School, where she was a member of the A Cappella Choir and school paper staff, Ginnie began her undergraduate studies at West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) in the fall of 1953 before eloping to Oakland, Maryland that October with Dewayne Lowther, her high school sweetheart. They had first met in the fall of 1949 and, on New Year’s Day in 1950, began making plans to spend their lives together as a team in church-related service.
She put her college plans on hold and worked several jobs, including Wesleyan’s admission office and at James & Law Book Store for E. W. James, the composer of “My Home Among the Hills.” She served as an enthusiastic partner in ministry with Dewayne as he took on the role of student pastor during college and seminary. She organized and directed choirs, served as organist, gave piano lessons, led church youth groups and was involved in many other church activities. When they returned to West Virginia following seminary, their partnership continued across the years and in many communities.
Ginnie and Dewayne lived in Donovan and Westfield, Illinois, and Buckhannon, Charleston, Chelyan, Clarksburg, Keyser, Morgantown/Westover, New Martinsville, West Liberty, Wilsonburg and Williamstown, West Virginia.
Ginnie was a key partner and co-editor in publishing 30 editions of West Virginia Annual Conference Journals and learned to use word processing equipment to help make it possible to send camera ready Journal pages to the printer, avoiding the expense and time required for the printer to use old linotype machines.
She resumed her college studies in 1962, taking courses at institutions of higher learning in communities where they lived, including Morris Harvey College (now University of Charleston), West Virginia University (WVU), West Liberty State College, and West Virginia Northern Community College. In the summer of 1968, she was able to transfer credits from those schools to WVWC, where she completed required classes to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics. In 1980, she completed work for her Master of Science degree in home economics education at WVU. Next, she attended graduate classes at several seminaries including Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Drew Theological School and Methodist Theological School in Ohio before being consecrated as a Diaconal Minister in 1994, ordained a Deacon in 1997 and then received as a clergy member of the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She was appointed to serve as Administrative Assistant for the West Virginia United Methodist Conference Council on Ministries where she served for 18 years in addition to being appointed to serve on the staff of Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston.
Prior to her ordination, Ginnie had been employed as a teacher by boards of education in Harrison, Kanawha, Mineral and Wetzel counties and as a 4-H agent in Harrison County for the WVU Cooperative Extension Service. She was a 48-year member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and served as newsletter editor and president of the West Virginia chapter of that association.
Ginnie was chair of the West Virginia United Methodist Conference Commission on Archives and History for eight years, a member of the Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, and an elected lay delegate to the 1996 Northeastern Jurisdictional United Methodist Conference. She also served as president of the W.Va. Conference Minister’s Wives Association.
Following their retirements in 2002, Ginnie and Dewayne began a self-assigned and self-funded Ministry of Memory by using photographic journaling to document and affirm persons involved in ministries of the church, visual and performing arts and not-for-profit organizations. Using an online publishing company, they printed 30 photo essay books to help collect, organize, preserve and share those memories.
Whether teaching a child to play the piano or serving communion to the Council of United Methodist Bishops at the 2012 General Conference, Ginnie lived her life in service to others and in pursuit of order, rhythm, balance and harmony in whatever she did.
Years ago, in a Lenten meditation delivered at Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston, Ginnie said, “All of us really are what we have been becoming and we need to be ready to do what we are gifted and prepared to do wherever we are and when the opportunity comes.”
The family wishes to express appreciation for the way in which staff members from WVU Medicine Hospice were prepared and willing to respond to the opportunity to serve Ginnie and her family’s needs.
A celebration of Ginnie’s life will be held at First United Methodist Church in Williamstown, W.Va. on September 24, 2022 at 1 p.m. Visitation in church parlor beginning at 11 a.m.
Memorial Gifts may be made to Friends of WVWC Archives and History, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library, West Virginia Wesleyan College, 59 College Avenue, Buckhannon, W.Va. 26201. Online condolences may be extended to the Lowther family at www.heavnerandcutright.com. The Lowther family entrusted the Heavner & Cutright Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services with the arrangements.