Virginia Hilyard Whitner

May 25, 1930February 19, 2021

Virginia Hilyard Whitner, 90, of Jacksonville and recently of Longwood, Florida, went to be with her Lord, her husband of 54 years, and all her angels, on February 19, 2021. She died peacefully at home, surrounded by her loving family. Born on May 25, 1930, Virginia was a Jacksonville native. Her husband, George Crabtree Whitner, her parents, Samuel Banta Hilyard and Virginia Finlayson Turnbull, and her sisters, Elise Bailey Hilyard and Katharine Howe Lovett, predeceased her. Known as “Ginny” to her friends, “Mom” and “Mimi” to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and “Mary Poppins” to many neighborhood children, Mimi leaves behind a wonderful legacy of love, caring, creativity, and fun. She is survived by: her brother, Philip Gardner Howe, Jr. of Ponte Vedra Beach; daughters Banta Hilyard Whitner (Bruce Grob) of Black Mountain, NC, Virginia Whitner Hoptman (Glen) of Edinburg, VA, Eleanor Whitner Tracey (Tim) of Longwood, FL, and son John Addison Whitner (Ruth) of Jacksonville; nine grandchildren, Elise Jordan Grob, Sarah Cobb Hoptman, namesake Virginia Hilyard Hoptman, Eleanor Hoptman Moran, Michael Francis Tracey, Martha Tracey Williams, George Crabtree Whitner II, Emma Reade Whitner, and Lilly Finlayson Whitner, and four great-grandchildren: Hazel Mae Jones, Hilyard Caroline Moran, Jackson Dexter Tracey, and Madelyn Martha Tracey. Ginny has always had a passion for the arts. After graduating from high school at Chatham Hall in Chatham, VA, she studied at the Farnsworth School of Art in Sarasota and was active in community theatre productions. Ginny then spent decades as an artist, full-time wife to her soulmate George and the best mom ever to her kids. She was generous with her time and talent, leaving her friends and family with a legacy of her paintings and restorations, and volunteering much of her time in Jacksonville. After she married George on December 3, 1955, Ginny joined George as an active member of St. Johns Presbyterian Church, where she served as an Elder, teacher, and Bible group leader for many years. Ginny will be remembered as a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, as being wicked smart, funny and competitive, an athletic sportswoman, and a really good sport (evidenced by her enthusiastic adoption of George’s pastimes of fishing and Tarheel fandom!). She was a strong woman of enormous warmth, who gave selflessly to others, played mean games of ping pong, croquet, and scrabble and created the most imaginative mystery games, leaving clues in the most unusual places for her grandchildren to find during our annual family-reunion trips to St. Augustine Beach. We honor our Mimi for her unshakeable sense of fair play, her generous spirit, and her deep and abiding loyalty to her family. We are so grateful to have known and loved her, and her legacy lives on in all the lives she touched. The family gratefully acknowledges the kindness and devotion of CarrieLynn Williams and each of Mimi’s amazing caregivers, as well as the staff of Hospice of the Comforter in Orlando. A memorial service in celebration of Ginny's life will be held at St. Johns Presbyterian Church, 4275 Herschel St., Jacksonville FL 32210, at 11:00 AM on Saturday, March 20. Rev. John Lovelady will officiate, assisted by Rev. Dr. Ronald R. Smith and Pastor Vernon Rainwater. Out of respect for the family’s wishes, all in attendance will be required to wear a face mask and socially distance. For those unable to attend, a live stream will be provided at In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to the American Brain Foundation (, 201 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis, MN, (866) 770-7570), the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens (, 829 Riverside Avenue, Jacksonville, Florida 32204, (904) 356-6857) or to any community hospice of your choice. Funeral arrangements are by Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home, 7242 Normandy Blvd., Jacksonville, FL. 32205.


20 March

Graveside Service

10:00 am - 11:00 am

Evergreen Cemetery

4535 Main Street
Jacksonville, FL 32206

20 March

Funeral Service

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

St. Johns Presbyterian Church

4275 Herschel Street
Jacksonville, FL 32210


Virginia Hilyard Whitner

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John Covil

February 24, 2021

Sincere and heartfelt sympathy to Banta and the entire Whitner family.
Know that you will be in my prayers. May God be close and meet you at the point of your greatest need during this time.

John Covil
Lee Class of '68