Posted on: November 3, 2022
Dr. Virgil Atwell Motley, Jr., long-time Abingdon resident and respected physician, age 91, died at his home on October 10, 2022. He was the son of the late Virgil Atwell Motley and Alice Elizabeth Lamkin Motley. He was preceded in death by his first wife and mother of his children, Patricia Anne Dennison Motley, infant daughter Anne Courtney Motley and son Virgil Atwell “Mike” Motley, III. Predeceasing him, too, were his second wife Sadie Beatrice Blevins Motley and his third wife Helen Ruth Schultz Ogle Motley. His sister, Alice Elizabeth (Betty Motley Glore) and her husband Walter Scott Glore, III also predeceased him.
He is survived by his wife, Jeanne Austin Preston; his children Elizabeth Carrington Motley and Paige Allison Motley Kelly and husband Gregory, and granddaughters Kaitlin Elizabeth Kelly and Rebecca Anne Kelly. He also is survived by his niece, Elizabeth Glore and cousins Betty Ann Walsh and her husband Richard, and Daniel Baptist and his wife Carolyn.
Dr. Motley graduated from Gretna High School in 1947 with highest honors. He attended Hampden-Sydney College, graduating in 1951 with a BS in Liberal Arts. There he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and Kappa Alpha Fraternity. He attended the University of Virginia Medical School, graduating in 1955. He interned at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, from July 1955 – July 1956. In addition, he served in the U. S. Navy from November 1956 – November 1958.
He moved with his wife and son to Abingdon in 1958 where he joined Dr. Scott Shaffer and Dr. Samuel Miller as part of the Abingdon Medical Group. He practiced family medicine in Abingdon for 42 years.
Dr. Motley was an active member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church where he served as a lay reader and Senior Warden on the Vestry. His church life was very important to him.
In addition to his contributions to the community, he was a member of Abingdon Masonic Lodge #48 for 68 years and member of the Kazim Shriners for over 60 years.
Atwell was a Renaissance man who excelled in a variety of areas. Playing both the piano and organ, he loved music, especially classical music and opera. He appreciated the traditional architecture of Virginia. In 2001 he began the restoration of 200-year-old Brook Hall in Glade Spring, Virginia. He travelled widely, favoring the Caribbean. As host or guest, he looked forward to all social gatherings. Through the years he was an avid skier, and at one period in his life, at the urging of Dr. Sam Miller, he competitively raced his Porsche. He had a razor-sharp mind and a delightful sense of humor. He enjoyed life to the fullest.
Atwell was the quintessential Virginia gentleman. With his courtly manners, distinctive voice, and singular presence he was well known and beloved in Abingdon and the surrounding area. In his medical practice he brought new life into the world – and he also brought vibrancy into the lives of the people who knew him. When asked what he missed most about practicing medicine, he paused and said, “The people.” He will be missed.