Mary Sorrells, 95, of Lexington died March 8


Mary Orr Boag Lauderdale Sorrells, 95, died Thursday morning, March 8, at Kendal’s Borden Health Center. She was the daughter of the late Rev. David Thomas and Sallie Ann Chapman Lauderdale and wife of the late John Henry Sorrells.

Generally known as Mary Boag, she was born Feb. 24, 1923 at the Broad Creek A.R.P. Church manse on the Plank Road in Rockbridge County.

Mrs. Sorrells graduated from Lexington High School in 1939 and from Erskine College in 1943. After college, she returned to Lexington and taught at Brownsburg High School for five years.

After marriage, she took time off to have her family but returned to teaching in 1961 and taught at Ann Smith Elementary School, Waddell Elementary School and Lylburn Downing Middle School over the next 20 years. During that time she also gave private piano lessons in her home. Except for her college years, she lived her entire life in Lexington.

She was preceded in death by her oldest child, Sally Irma Sorrells Dyal; brothers David Thomas Lauderdale Jr., Wilbur Chapman Lauderdale and George Seebert Lauderdale; and sister Sally Ann Lauderdale Franze. She is survived by her sister, Martha Erskine Lauderdale Heinsohn, of Rock Hill, SC.

Surviving are her children: Mary Ellen Sorrells Higgins (Don) of Richmond, VA; John Henry Sorrells Jr. (Beverly Bell) of Alexandria, VA; David Jefferson Sorrells of Lexington; and a very special friend, Patty Higgins of Lexington, who over the years became a surrogate daughter.

Also surviving are her grandchildren: Mary Elizabeth Dyal Nelson (James) of Jacksonville, FL; Mollie Rebecca Maitland Dyal Beacham (Lee) of Kill Devil Hills, NC; Carter Elizabeth Higgins of Los Angeles, CA; Sallie Berry Higgins Havey Morse (John) of Richmond, VA; John Henry “Jack” Sorrells III (Elizabeth) of Lynchburg, VA; and six great grandchildren – Austin Dyal, Wyatt Nelson and Coleman Nelson; Edward Havey; and Drew and Addison Sorrells. She also is survived by many nieces and nephews.

Mrs. Sorrells was a loyal and lifelong member of the Lauderdale Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, which was founded by her father the same year she was born. 

Mrs. Sorrells was an accomplished and well-known pianist and organist who had the rare gift of perfect pitch. She began her church music career at the age of 12, when her minister father checked her out of her sixth-grade class to play piano for a funeral he was conducting.

For more than seven decades she served as pianist, organist and music director for the Lauderdale Church and played for thousands of weddings and funerals. For many years, she served as an organist for Harrison Funeral Home. She also was active in many church-related efforts, including serving for decades as a Sunday school teacher, and in community music-related activities.

The family will receive visitors at Harrison’s Funeral Home from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13.

A celebration of her life will be held at Lauderdale A.R.P. Church on South Main Street at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, with the Rev. Ben Dowling presiding. Members of Mrs. Sorrells’ family also will participate in the service. Burial will follow in the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Lauderdale A.R.P. Church music fund, the Kendal Staff Appreciation Fund or the charity of choice.


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