Cover photo for Jean Bahr Waltrip's Obituary
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Jean Bahr Waltrip

March 31, 1935 — March 4, 2023

Rocky Mount

Jean Bahr Waltrip


Jean Bahr Waltrip passed away March 4, 2023, following a brief hospitalization. She was born March 31, 1935 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan to parents Mary Fairfax Griffith Bahr and Frederick Charles Bahr. She was predeceased by her husband, Gene Keith Waltrip, brother Frederick Griffith Bahr and sister Mary Armistead Bahr Turino, and son Gene Keith Waltrip, Jr.  She is survived by children Deborah Snead, Victoria Cullather (Dan), Pace Martin (Mike) and Kevin Waltrip (Jennie).

Jean grew up in an idyllic family culture, enjoying Detroit Country Club and sailing on Lake St. Clair as well as vacations to Lake Huron, Florida, and the West Coast. She enjoyed tennis, golf, swimming, and sailing. She graduated from the University of Michigan, where she earned her Bachelor's Degree in English in 1956, and remained a fan of the Wolverines, the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Tigers for the rest of her life.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Jean attended William and Mary as a post graduate, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education in 1979; and it was in Williamsburg that she met Gene Waltrip, the love of her life. For Jean, following her heart meant becoming mother to a blended family of five children! Despite the challenges, she and Gene embarked on many adventures throughout their 42 years of marriage, purchasing an oyster boat, “The Gay Maid”; owning a campground in Syringa; and showing and raising black and tan coon hounds.

Jean was known among her friends, family, and peers for her keen wit and insight. One did not want to be on the opposing side of a debate with her! As a child, her father had insisted that his girls become educated and self-sufficient. A natural intellectual, Jean advocated for a woman’s independence, ultimately pursuing a career in social work and special education, though she had wanted to be in banking (and earned admission into law school as recently as 1977!). She retired as the Director of Franklin County Social Services.
She unselfishly shared her time and talents with the community.  Jean was a lifelong Episcopalian and was actively involved the Phoebe Needles Center for Lifelong Learning and the Daughters of the King.  She was also involved with the Franklin County Family Resource Center, the Developmental Center of Franklin County, and the local library.  She was a former member of the Boones Mill Lions Club. Her work ethic and organizational skills earned her the respect of fellow members.  Her warmth and sense of humor earned her their friendship.

Jean loved the beach, wherever it was, and loved being with her family. Family loyalty was a core value for her. Not only did she want her children to practice manners and to stand up for what was right in the world; she also wanted to give them a bone-deep assurance that they were valuable, worthy of love, and capable of anything. 

Family gatherings at the holidays and the lake were lively and raucous. Family dynamics included Gene and Jean constantly vying for control of a conversation, neither yielding to the other. Guests never quite knew who to listen to. The game of “Balderdash” was a family favorite and the combination of Jean’s vocabulary and Gene’s “earthy” style often resulted in loud controversy and gales of laughter. She brought her sense of humor to every social gathering. Fearless and joyful, she lived in the moment. She was going to enjoy whatever situation she found herself in.

The grace that attended Jean’s life also marked her departure: she passed from this world with the same dignity, humor, and purpose with which she had lived.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Trinity Episcopal Church, 15 East Church Street, Rocky Mount, VA  24151, or to Phoebe Needles Center, Inc., 732 Turner’s Creek Road, Callaway, VA  24067.

A celebration of her life will be conducted 10:00 AM Saturday, March 18, 2023 at Trinity Episcopal Church with the Rev. David Taylor officiating.

Arrangements by Conner-Bowman Funeral Home & Crematory, 62 VA Market Place Drive, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jean Bahr Waltrip, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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