In 1911, Calbraith Perry Rodgers made the first transcontinental flight across the United States. He flew the Wright Brothers “Vin Fiz” EX biplane from Sheepshead Bay N.Y. to Long Beach, CA. The trip took 84 days and stopped or crashed 70 times. Also, William Howard Taft was president, the Philadelphia Athletics won the world series 4-2 over the New York Giants and although, there were not a lot of them, the average cost of a car was $780.

But, right here in Southeast Texas on Oct. 31, Virgie Scales was born. Monday, she passed away at the ripe old age of 102 at The Meadows Nursing Home in Orange.

She grew up in the Orangefield/Bridge City area. As a child, she was often with her grandparents who operated the Mansfield Ferry. The ride across the ferry costs 50 cents. She grew up learning to love hard work whether it was on a farm or interacting with adults since she didn’t have playmates of her own age to play with.

In previous articles on her life she also fondly remembered driving the family Pontiac at age 8 up and down Mansfield Ferry Road. She would prop herself up to reach the pedals for her drive on the roadway. She didn’t drive far, but only to the end of the road near the cemetery. If there was not a funeral, she drove through the cemetery before turning around to drive back to her house.

‘A driver’s license was not a big deal then,” she said.

Throughout her life education was always important. She started school at the age of four year old. She memorized the alphabet forward and backwards. During her school days she developed and honed her skills which would later help her in professional life.

When Scales was 15 years old, she met the “love of her life.” Grover Allen Scales was 19 years old and worked on the ferry. They dated for about a year before they married on March 19, 1928 at the home of their pastor in Orangefield.

“He was a good man,” she had added.

The newlywed worked at the Post Office in Orangefield until the birth of her first child in 1931. During this time, she had two sons and three daughters. But, sadly, over the years, three of her children have not outlived their mother.

The couple purchased a dairy and with the help of their children ran the dairy. After they sold the dairy, they bought hay-baling equipment and range cattle.

In 1950, she worked as a newspaper correspondent for a local paper. She earned recognition and was Reporter of the Year. She wrote on various topics such as wedding announcements, obituaries and stories about community events. She also wrote feature stories. After she typed them up, she took them to the paper to be printed.

“As a boy I remember the pride I felt when I saw the Scales name at the top of one of her stories,” said her great-nephew Frank Scales. “A kindred spirit of sorts-with media being my career path.”

She loved being a reporter and the chance to meet people. She continued to work as a writer for 39 years.

When Mr. Quigley sold the paper, she decided to retire.

Other home duties including gardening, mowing her yard, sewing and cooking were always a part of her life too. But, not all her time was devoted to reporting or family duties. She also loved to travel.

When her husband became ill, she devoted more time to his needs. Before a massive heart attack claimed his life, his last words to her were,” I love you.”

Following his death, she was appointed to fulfill his term on the Orange County Drainage Board which made her the first woman ever hold that position.

Over the years, she saw many changes in the area, but said there are just too many to describe.

During her retirement years, Scales was involved in various senior citizen’s groups. As a member of the Orange County Old Timer’s Association, she received the Loyal and Unselfish Service Award in 1998 and from the Texas Senior Citizen Extension Committee on Aging, Orange County Chapter she received the Outstanding Senior Citizen in 1995.

She also enrolled in senior fitness classes and did weight training in her 90s.

Orange County Commissioners declared Oct. 31, 2011 Vergie Scales Day in honor of her 100th Birthday.

“I sure hope I live 80 percent of your life span, I’ll be tremendously thrilled,” said Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux that day.

At The Meadows nursing home, where she spent her final days, she loved to participate in all the scheduled activities, but especially Bingo.

‘If I can’t stay busy doing one thing, I stay busy doing something else,” said Scales in an interview for the 101st birthday. The secret to a successful life, is “work, work, work.”

“I have had a good life,” she said with a smile during that interview.

“Aunt Virgie will be greatly missed, but I know there is a party in heaven,” a family member posted on Facebook

Visitation will be 5-8 p.m., Wednesday at Orangefield Baptist Church. Funeral services will be 10 a.m., Thursday at the church. Burial will follow at Mansfield Cemetery in Vidor. See full obit page 6A.


About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.