LaRue Holden


On Sunday, Dec. 1, 1929, LaRue Theresa Watson was born to Adolphus and Lula Hinman Watson, in Temperanceville. She was the youngest of nine siblings. On Thursday, July 21, 2022, she gracefully departed from life.

LaRue grew up as a sharecropper’s daughter, understanding the meaning of sowing, cultivating, and harvesting, in all seasons of her life. LaRue excelled as a student in Accomack County Public Schools. From there, she helped shape the future of agriculture on the Eastern Shore, in the poultry industry. She was employed with Bird’s Eye and Buddy Boy’s Poultry plants. In 1966, she joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a civil service employee where she served as one of the first Black health inspectors on the Eastern Shore in the Food Safety and Inspection Service Division until her retirement in 1996. She truly enjoyed her job and the fellowship with her co-workers as she always communicated the highest standards and an outstanding quality of work.

In June 1946, LaRue became the bride to “the love of her life,” Donnie Lee Holden. They embraced each other in marriage for 72 years. Graced with this union was the birth of a daughter and two sons.

LaRue was a faithful member of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Temperanceville. She committed herself to a ministry of service, as a Sunday school teacher, choir member, youth ministry leader, and choir director. She faithfully served in these roles throughout the years. She also served many years as the financial secretary until her health began to weaken. Yet, it strengthened her soul to share God’s grace and mercy with steps of faith everywhere she went. As God ordered her footsteps, she planted a message of hope for all, coming from Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all of your ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths.” In fact, she included a scripture as her closing on nearly every greeting card she sent for any occasion.

From her loving role as a devoted wife and mother and her service to others to her drive in building a career, LaRue always acknowledged that she did everything by the grace of God.

In addition to her devout faith, LaRue was passionate about music, travel, and above all her family.

LaRue treasured rearing her grandsons alongside her beloved Donnie, as though they were their birth sons.

Lois, in the Bible, displayed a strong faith to her grandson, Timothy, and supported him in ministry. Like Lois, LaRue displayed the same to her natural and spiritual offspring. As she sowed seeds of faith into their lives, she tilled alongside them, helping them reap a harvest of abundance. She honored God for allowing her to live to see it.

She had a special love for her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren as well as her nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews, and many other relatives and friends. She truly appreciated the great love they gave her in return. LaRue always offered her words of wisdom and encouragement for them to excel in their personal and professional lives.

She saw them excel academically, earning professional certificates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. She witnessed them become productive citizens in a myriad of careers including engineering, science and technology, health and medicine, executive leadership of universities and corporations, business management, and administrations, community and social services, entrepreneurs, human resources, communications, computer science, and industrial transportation, following in her husband Donnie’s footsteps.

Her beautiful life will be forever cherished with fond memories by her daughter, Joan Forsythe (Ronald); her son, Ronnie Holden (Brenda); her daughter-in-law, Marva Justine Holden; and the grandsons to whom she was a mother, Tony Holden (Belaveate) and Ronnie Harmon. Joining them in her Celebration of Life are nine grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, nine great-great-grandchildren, sisters-in-law, Joyce Watson and Carolyn Holden, and a host of nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends.

LaRue was predeceased by her parents; loving husband, Donnie Lee Holden; son, Terry F. Holden (Larry); granddaughter, Stacey Milbourne-Taylor; siblings, Henry Watson, Flossie Dennis, Richard Watson, Malinda Wharton, Percy Watson, Almarine Hope, Milton Watson, and Mariam Holden.

LaRue shared with her immediate family how grateful she was for having such wonderful caregivers and neighbors that routinely visited. To her, they were like family. For this, the family expresses much appreciation and special thanks to Rita Matthews, Patty Richardson, Ronnie T. Harmon, Pam Johnson, Alice Laws, and Ethel Ward.

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