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PROFFITT, JEAN

PROFFITT, JEAN

PROFFITT, JEAN

PROFFITT, Jean H., literacy advocate and community volunteer, died March 16, 2020, at age 89. Jean was a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and steadfast friend. She is survived by twin sons, Keith R. Proffitt (Kathy) and Kenneth L. Proffitt (Janice); her grandson, Heath L. Proffitt (Sue); granddaughters, Cassidy P. Brown, Katy Proffitt and Sarah K. Proffitt Hooker; six great-grandchildren, Peyton and Gray Proffitt, Madeliene Wilburn and Bruce Spencer, Makenzie Schaff and Hunter Schaff, all of Richmond. Jean was a graduate of Mary Baldwin University and the University of Richmond. She was a member of the U of R Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Society. She was a member of numerous professional organizations as well as Altrusa International Inc. of Richmond, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Historical Society. She was a member of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. Jean was a founding member and past president of the Virginia Literacy Coalition, Inc., past member of the Region Nine Literacy Committee of the Virginia State Literacy Initiative and a member of the Board of Advisors of The New Community School. As a member of the Altrusa Club, she conducted the feasibility study that led to the establishment of the Literacy Council of the Metropolitan Richmond (now the READ Center). The council resided on her dining room table and in the trunk of her car for four years until office space was donated. She served on the Board of Directors of the READ Center until her death. Jean was the past president of the Altrusa Club of Richmond and past trustee of the Altrusa International Foundation, Inc. She began her literacy advocacy in 1977. She chaired many literacy conferences, served on numerous literacy committees and commissions and was a frequent speaker and workshop leader on the subjects of Adults Returning to School, the Impact of Adult Illiteracy and various communication topics, locally, nationally and internationally. Jean was recognized as a pioneer of the literacy movement in Virginia. She was awarded the Jeanne P. Baliles Award in Literacy by the Virginia Literacy Foundation for "Outstanding Support on Behalf of Literacy in the Commonwealth of Virginia." She was recognized for her adult education and literacy work with honorary membership in Pi Alpha chapter of Mortar Board National Honor Society at the University of Richmond. She was presented a Lifetime Service Award by the READ Center for her "Dedication to Adult Literacy and her faithful labor in the founding and diligent governance of the READ Center." Jean was passionate about education. 38 years of her professional life were spent counseling thousands of adult students, encouraging them to keep reaching for their dreams. Jean often "found" tuition and textbooks for students low on funds. Her quiet generosity was known by few, but her bright smile and warm hugs were known by all. Of her career at the University of Richmond, Jean said, "The University has provided me with outstanding mentors and an opportunity for personal growth for which I will always be grateful. It has been a perfect match- the university and me." She once told Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, then president of the university, that he thought he had the best job on the campus, but she knew she did. In 1995, she was awarded the University's Outstanding Service Award. At this same time, the honorary title of University of Richmond Ambassador for Continuous Learning was conferred on her. When Jean retired from the University in 1998, the Jean H. Proffitt Service Award was established by the Student Government Association to recognize a graduating senior's volunteer service to the School. The Jean H. Proffitt Scholarship was established by alumni, students, faculty and friends. The Richmond Association of Legal Assistants, which she helped establish, renamed its scholarship to honor Jean. Jean loved international travel, cross-cultural experiences, art, archaeology and history. She was an avid gardener and lover of all things beautiful. Whether she was teaching English to refugees in the late 1940s and 1950s, on a volunteer literacy mission, writing a grant application, raising funds for a cause or knitting scarves for the homeless, her life was one of service and giving. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the family will only hold a private graveside service at this time. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. In lieu of flowers, Jean requested memorial gifts be sent to the Jean H. Proffitt Scholarship, Office of Advancement, University of Richmond, Va. 23173 or The READ Center Endowment Fund, 4915 Radford Ave., Suite 204, Richmond, Va. 23230.

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