Obituary of Virginia Haughton Bellows
Virginia Haughton-Bellows, born Virginia Floy Haughton, was a teacher, scholar, and a rare combination of mathematician and historian. She was known by her family and friends for her determination and hard work, as well as her commitment to helping others and wonderful smile. She passed away June 10, 2020 at the age of 75. Virginia was born to Lenard and Lois Haughton in Tulsa on March 12, 1945. She was devoted to her parents, as well as to her Aunt Floy, who also lived with them. When she was about three years old, the family moved to Houston – around that point is when she made up her mind to attend Rice University (then Rice Institute). An older acquaintance informing her that that was unlikely only spurred her on. Indeed, after graduating from Edison High School and becoming a National Merit Finalist, she went on to attend Rice. At Rice, she majored in math, later adding a double major in history. As part of earning her teaching certificate, she also taught early computer courses. Much to her parents' horror, she applied to graduate programs in both mathematics and history and accepted a National Defense Education Act (NDEA) scholarship to pursue a PhD in history at the University of Kentucky. Despite initially intending to study Russian and Eastern European history, she eventually specialized in U.S. history, in part because the line for that subfield was shorter. She worked closely with Holman Hamilton at Kentucky, who treated her like a daughter. Although she initially proposed a dissertation topic that combined her two undergraduate majors, a statistical study of the Midwest during the Great Depression, the faculty at Kentucky told her that a more appropriate "female" topic was a biography. Uncharacteristically, she acquiesced and wrote her dissertation on John Worth Kern, the senate majority leader under Woodrow Wilson. She became so interested in the topic that she named her beloved poodle Worthless. She loved both the university and her adopted state and was particularly honored to be named a Kentucky Colonel. While finishing at Kentucky, she began working at the Kentucky Register as an editor and was hired for her first academic position at Austin Peay State University. There, she taught modern U.S. and Black history to students older than she was, while also providing coffee at the faculty meetings (as expected from the only female on faculty). She then obtained a position at Southern Methodist University (SMU); however, while defending her dissertation, a tornado hit her apartment and destroyed all her notes. After one year at SMU, she moved to a position at Oklahoma State University (OSU). After an unlucky job season, she moved back to Dallas and began working for the Dallas Independent School District, first as an administrator devising curriculum. To avoid a brewing potential scandal involving higher-ups in the DISD administration, she became a high school math teacher (her original childhood career goal). She taught for several years, at Skyline and South Oak Cliff. During this time, she also earned an administrative certification and was briefly married to her college boyfriend, although the two divorced after only three months. In 1982, she moved back to higher education as an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Arlington for a two-year visiting appointment. There, she shared an office with another visiting appointee, Donald Bellows. The pair started going to lunch, the library, etc., but she was still surprised when he proposed that summer (although she accepted and they were married in 1983). In 1984, Virginia and Donald moved to Memphis with a new baby daughter, Laura Elizabeth, to start Virginia's three-year visiting appointment at Memphis State University. However, Virginia was hired as faculty the next year at Tulsa Junior College (TJC, now TCC), cutting her appointment at Memphis short and returning the family to Tulsa, to be with her aging parents. In 1986, Virginia and Donald welcomed Jennifer Claire, a second daughter. At TCC, Virginia taught a variety of history courses but specialized in U.S. and Oklahoma history. She was one of the first faculty to be awarded the TCC Educator of the Year. She was also one of the first faculty to develop online courses and was subsequently honored as Oklahoma History Professor of the Year, for which she was featured on a billboard. A year ago, portions of the courses she developed were adopted for use for all online history courses at TCC, so her work lives on. She was also proud of her service work at TCC: she was the primary adviser for Phi Theta Kappa, the honorary society, for several years; served the district coordinator for the National History Day competition; wrote for The Faculty Forum; and helped plan and write grants to fund the Sesquicentennial examination of the Civil War. She also was a "go-to" person for other faculty trying to put their courses online. After a 30 year career at TCC's metro campus teaching and caring for students, Virginia retired in 2015. Outside of TCC, Virginia served as a homeroom mother at Council Oak Elementary, a Girl Scout troop leader, and a band parent for Booker T. Washington's T-Connection band. On overnight band trips, she would talk to the bus drivers to help keep them awake. Virginia enjoyed socializing with her colleagues at TCC and participated in several book clubs, the TCC retirement group, and the "Birthday Club," monthly dinners with friends which were a recent highlight. As a young woman, Virginia loved outdoor activities, including horseback riding and hiking. She began visiting Estes Park early, at about three years old, and continued that tradition with her own family. She also loved long road trips and visited every state. Driving from Tulsa to either coast or Canada, she would frequently turn around from the front passenger's seat to tell her daughters to "stop reading and look at the scenery!" She became afraid of plane travel after some bad experiences as a young adult and so did not travel outside of North America until 2006, when she went to Greece with her eldest daughter and friends from TCC. After that, she took an international trip almost every summer as long her health permitted, visiting Italy, Britain, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Morocco, and Egypt. She also loved reading mystery novels, watching mystery shows (particularly Perry Mason and Murder She Wrote), and puzzles and games. Virginia suffered from poor health all her life. As a child, she nearly died from Reye's syndrome and was subsequently home-schooled for all of first grade. She had cancer three times, surviving both ovarian cancer at 43 and breast cancer at 67 before succumbing to pancreatic cancer. She had numerous surgeries for her neck (3), back, and knee and even had to have a brain tumor removed in her 50s. Despite her ill health, or maybe because of it, she was very tough. Recently, when visiting her eldest daughter in Virginia, she fell, hitting her head and hurting her leg. Instead of immediately going to the hospital, she drove around Virginia to Civil War sites for several hours. After finally being persuaded to go to the hospital, she discovered her leg had been broken. She and Donald then drove back to Tulsa (~20 hours) to get the leg set. Virginia is survived by her husband, Donald Bellows, and her two daughters, Laura Elizabeth Bellows and Jennifer Claire Bradstock, as well as her granddaughter, Annika Blair Bradstock. A celebration of her life will be held in the coming months, but viewing will be Monday between 10:30 am and 8 pm at Ninde Brookside Funeral Home. The family is also holding a private graveside ceremony. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the TCC Emergency Fund to help TCC students who are currently in need.