She was born June 6, 1926, in Doe Hill, Virginia, a daughter of the late William Ernest and Dora (Simmons) Rexrode.
The eldest child, she grew up between Doe Hill, Virginia, and Moyers, where she helped both her dad on the farm, as well as her mother in the home with housework and the care of her younger siblings. At times she would stay with neighbors when they were expecting a baby, providing care to the other children. She was a student at a local one-room school and attended St. Paul Lutheran Church.
She and her husband, Henry Clay Pitsenbarger, whom she married on May 19, 1951, bought a farm adjacent to her parents on Hiner Mill Road where they lived until 1959. At that time her husband received a teaching job and they moved their four small children to Amherst County in Virginia. Once settled in, the family started attending Amherst Baptist Church. In her later years she was very involved with the Ruth Sunday School class, helping prepare and serve Wednesday evening youth meals and serving on a committee to provide various other meals. They maintained their connection to St. Paul Lutheran Church by attending each time they returned to the farm.
In Amherst, Virginia, she applied her work ethics from growing up on the farm as she and her husband always had a large garden. She canned and shared the summer bounty with friends and neighbors. In the spring, she enjoyed gathering and preparing water cress and dandelions and her numerous house plants attested to her “green thumb.” She continued gardening into her late 80s.
Mrs. Pitsenbarger’s nurturing ways continued as she cared for her family and started babysitting for several of her husband’s coworkers. Once word about her caring nature spread, more teachers sought her out. By the time she retired in 1980, she was caring for 11 children, aged infant to school age, as well as several after school. In her spare time, she enjoyed working on puzzles. Above all, she will be remembered for the love and time she spent enjoying her family and friends.
Her husband, Henry Clay Pitsenbarger, preceded her in death on Feb. 18, 2000.
She is survived by sons, Wendell and wife, Rebecca of Altavista, Virginia, Harold and wife, Susan of Amherst, Virginia, and Larry and wife, Ruth of Bellevue, Nebraska; a daughter, Betty Artman and husband, Delroy of Berwick, Pennsylvania; sisters, Annie Simmons of Bridgewater, Virginia, and Norma Cunningham and husband, Paul of Williamsville, Virginia; sister-in-law, Mary Ann Rexrode of Winchester, Virginia; five grandsons, Christopher Artman and wife, Louise of Berwick, Pennsylvania, Benjamin Artman and wife, Emily of Catawissa, Pennsylvania, Timothy Artman and wife, Janice of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, John Kerns IV and wife, Susannah of Richmond, Virginia, and Dr. Robnet Kerns and wife, Tammy of Raleigh, North Carolina; nine great-grandchildren, Elyse, Eden, Estelle, Isaac, Emma and Virginia Artman, Lily, John V. and Olivia Kerns; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
She was also preceded in death by a grandson, Matthew Tyler Pitsenbarger; sisters, Beulah Rexrode, Mary Eckard and Lena Simmons Shifflett; infant sister, Luella; and brother, Russell Rexrode.
A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m., Friday at Obaugh Funeral Home in McDowell, Virginia, with Rev. Jerry Smith officiating. Burial will follow in St. Paul Independent Lutheran Church Cemetery.
Her grandsons will serve as pallbearers.
The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.
Memorial donations may be sent to St. Paul Cemetery Association, c/o Joeann Moyers, 1685 Doe Hill Road, Sugar Grove, WV 26815.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.obaughfuneralhome.com.