The Zookeeper's Wife
Has many lovely and moving moments but fails to capture the many layers of this unique story, relying instead on plainly-stated metaphors.
HAMPTON - Imogene Miller Mont James, 90, was a vitally original and beloved mother and wife to her family, and treasured resident of Hampton where she lived for over sixty years. She was known to all as "Imo" or "Mo" and indeed her sense of humor would have put her in good company with Larry and Curly. She was the daughter of Grace Miller and Walter Mont in Frostburg, MD, a small town, which she regularly insisted, over protests, that her kids and husband visit on family vacations.
From her early days as a stellar high school student and math whiz, she moved on to being a beautiful and single OB-GYN nurse in Washington D.C. That is, until she met dashing young Bill James of Hampton, a former high school and college football star. Their mutual love of sports cemented their bond, and they were married in 1950. From there, a steady stream of precociously talented children followed - at least in their parents' estimation: Sharon, Randy, Steven, and Richard. An early rupture in the marriage - Bill was a Colts fan, Mo a Redskins fan - was not fatal. Perhaps because they bonded over a profound and everlasting love for Virginia Tech, where Bill, Sharon, Randy, and Richard attended. (We won't discuss Steven's choice.)
To help pay college tuitions, Mo became a school nurse. At the advent of integration, she volunteered to be the first school nurse at Pembroke High School - the former Phoenix High - when other school nurses declined out of fear. She thus became the first school nurse in the history of that school and was much beloved by all students, black and white. Up until nearly the day of her passing, former students would often seek her out to say hello and talk of their fond memories of those days. (Her family concluded she must have been easy to trick into getting a sick pass to miss class.) In her later years she became ever more devoted to golfing with her buddies, gardening, her Hokies, her church, and to telling endlessly embarrassing stories about her children. A generous person and spirited raconteur to the end, she will be greatly missed by her family and all whose lives she touched.
Imogene passed away on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. She is survived by her daughter Sharon; son Randy; and his wife Jenny and their daughter Madison; son Steven, his wife Judy, and their children Dylan, Corin, and Jackson; son Richard, his wife Debra, and their sons Benjamin and Adam; and brother-in-law Philip James. A funeral service will be conducted at 2:00 pm on Friday April 3rd at First United Methodist Church, 110 E. Queen, Hampton. Family will receive friends Thursday, from 5-7:00 pm at R. Hayden Smith Funeral Home, 245 S. Armistead Ave., Hampton. Private internment will be held in Parklawn Cemetery, Hampton.
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