Virginia Watts Harrison died on Oct. 1 at her home after suffering from ALS for seven months. Known as “VV,” she was a longtime resident of Georgetown, having moved here in 1964 to work in the office of the newly elected senator from New York, Robert F. Kennedy. Born in Baltimore in 1941, VV was the daughter of Virginia Watts of Baltimore and Cyril Harrison of New York City.
Her father, an eight-goal polo star of the 1920s and ’30s, was recently inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame. Because of polo, the family moved to Camden, South Carolina, where VV grew up, attending the Calvert School in Camden, Garrison Forest, Ashley Hall and Convent of the Sacred Heart Eden Hall in Philadelphia, followed by Duchesne Finishing School in New York City. Described as a “non conformist with a hail-fellow-well-met personality” by the head nun at Duchesne, VV was expelled from the school for entering the nuns’ cloistered refectory and putting Tootsie Roll Pops in their perfectly folded napkins.
Fifteen years later, in 1988, VV wrote a memoir of the Society of the Sacred Heart, “Changing Habits.” In the process of interviewing nuns for the book, VV described the Tootsie Roll caper to a nun who responded that she knew all about it; she had been the recipient of one of those pops and had enjoyed it very much. With a smile and a wink, the nun added, “I never knew whom to thank!” VV also coauthored “Confusion to the Enemy,” a biography of financier Edward Ball, and wrote numerous articles for the Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine and American Home — along with essays for the Citizens Association of Georgetown newsletter.
VV is survived by her sister, Lee Harrison Child; her nieces Eleanor Downing Child, Katherine Courtenay Begert and Anna Harrison Child; her six grand nieces and nephews; and her many friends, who will remember her laughter, light and love. Service is private.
Of her sister, Lee Child told The Georgetowner: “She loved Georgetown where she had lived since 1964. And she loved her friends, her family and rock ’n roll music (known to have sung at piano bars in Georgetown). Many happy hours spent on the tennis court and golf course (two holes in one!). Wonderful story teller, insightful and inquisitive, amusing to the brink! Caring and kind!”