Early Life & Education
Mattie Virginia Blanchard Poole was born to the late Bessie Littlejohn and William E. (Ed) Blanchard, in the Hattonsville section of Portsmouth, VA. She was guided by her parents and other family members along the pathway to Christianity and gaining an education. She was the eldest of three girls. Her sisters, Mamie Elizabeth Blanchard Pierce and Willie Mae Blanchard Brown shared great adventures and enjoyed each other’s company. After graduating from Key Road Elementary (Norfolk County) at age 11, she went on to I.C. Norcom High School (Portsmouth) and graduated at age 15. She graduated from Virginia State University (then Virginia State College) with a Bachelors of Arts degree at the age of 19. An avid lover of writing, literature and the arts, Mattie, continued her graduate education at Columbia University in NYC (Masters of Arts), and later studied at Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University.
Mattie’s first teaching job was at Northampton County High School (on the Virginia side of the Eastern Shore) where she taught English, French, and Social Studies. She then returned to her alma mater, I.C. Norcom High School, to teach English, International Relations, and American Government. Her last teaching foray was at Churchland High School teaching English and Composition. She retired from the Portsmouth Public School system in June, 1986.
Ministries & Affiliations
Mattie was an active lifelong member of the Olive Branch Baptist Church. She was active in a number of ministries that included: Deaconess Ministry, #2 Female Ushers (Oaks Usher Board), Board of Christian Education, Willie Mae Brown Scholastic Committee, Vacation Bible School, and the Wednesday Noonday Bible Study Group. Other affiliations included: National Education Association, Virginia Education Association, Virginia State University Alumni Association, Northampton County High School Alumni Association, Life Membership of the NAACP, and the I.C. Norcum High School Association.
Mattie was married to the late Nealy A. Poole of Nassawadox, VA for 41 years. They were married at Olive Branch Baptist Church and later had two children, Lynda and Kenneth. For a short time after they married, they lived with Mattie’s parents on Trotter Street in Hattonsville.
Mattie passed away quietly at the Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center after a brief illness. Continuing to cherish precious memories of her are: her daughter, Lynda P. Prioleau (Mark); son Kenneth, nieces Rev. Cn. Karen B. Montagno and Shirley Paige (Bryan); nephew Craig Poole (Linda); two brothers-in-law, Dr. George W. Brown and Norman Poole (Rose); a great niece, Kira Simone; three great nephews, Serrano Elias Montagno, Solomon Joseph Montagno, and, Pierce Paige; a great aunt (who turns 101 in November) Lucille Davis; cousin, Thurston Littlejohn (Ernestine); special cousin, Sharron Rawlins (James); special friends, Marie Byrdsong, Margaret Edwards, and Frieda Jones (GA); and a host of other cousins, relatives, friends, and students.