Redfield—Virginia Haynes Redfield, 89, on July 20, 2013, peacefully, at home in New Orleans, La. Virginia was born on June 17, 1924, in Tucson, Ariz., to Iva Virginia and Llewellyn Decatur Haynes and grew up in Miami, Fla., where she played piano and organ at her family’s church. Enthralled by Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again and Look Homeward Angel, she spent several weeks in the early 1940s in the Western North Carolina mountains with her father. She visited Wolfe’s mother, Julia Westall Wolfe, and they sat on the porch talking about her son. Among Virginia’s most cherished possessions were first editions of Wolfe’s works, gifts from and signed by his mother.
She graduated from George Peabody College (associated with Vanderbilt University), and earned a master’s in American literature from Columbia University, studying under Lionel Trilling and Mark Van Doren. She also took classes at Union Theological Seminary with Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. In this time of extraordinary friendships and colleagues, she married Harry James Bone, head of the William Alanson White Institute on Rollo May’s farm in New Hampshire. She and Harry spent the night of the John F. Kennedy’s assassination with their friends Thurgood and Cecilia Marshall.
Harry died in 1971, and she later married Charles Redfield. She taught at Fairfield University. In Newtown, Conn., she was first attracted to Quakers, later joining Wilton (Conn.) Meeting. She also taught at University of Miami and sojourned several times at Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa. In 1988 she retired as provost of Palm Beach Atlantic College in 1988. After retiring, she lived in Palm Beach Gardens and attended Palm Beach Meeting in Lake Worth, Fla., spending summers in Williamstown, Mass., and Asheville, N.C., until she moved to Asheville, making close friendships in All Souls Cathedral Book Club and Asheville Meeting. For several years she hosted a weekly midweek meeting of Stone Soup supper and spiritual fellowship for Asheville Friends.
She published poems and short stories in the Antioch Review, North American Review, and Wind. In 2012 she published her memoir, Night Bloom: Learning to See in the Dark. That year she moved to New Orleans to be closer to her daughter’s family.
A voracious reader to the last, she was engaged in the world through books, the New York Times, and the New Yorker. In New Orleans, she connected with a small group of new friends in her favorite local café, Satsuma, and in a writing class at Loyola University. She also enjoyed meals with friends and family, the theater, classical music, her many happy house plants, and feeding the birds from her forested deck. Not long before her death, she attended the New Orleans Friends of Music spring concert series. Compassionate, gentle, and honest, she never knew a stranger, greeted all with a smile, was a born rebel against hypocrisy and pomposity, and loved a great story. Her dear friend Willard Brown, like a brother to her, was her steadfast friend for over 60 years and acted as an uncle to her daughter.
She was preceded in death by her parents and two husbands, Harry James Bone and Charles Redfield. She is survived by her daughter, Wendeline H. Redfield (Thomas Edward Hall); her stepdaughter and dear friend, Joanna Redfield Vaughn; and one grandchild.