Margaret (“Mardie”) Heath Hammack Neblett departed this life on December 5, 2023 to be with the Lord. She was preceded in death by parents Lorenza John Hammack and Mary Heath Raney Hammack, brother Lorenza John Hammack, Jr. and sister Elizabeth Lewis Hammack. She is survived by husband Nathaniel (“Nat”) Palmer Neblett, son Nathaniel Heath Neblett, son Christopher Palmer Neblett, daughter in law Susan Lea Edwards, and granddaughter Isabel Edwards Neblett.
Mardie was born December 19, 1935 in Richmond, VA. She grew up in Lawrenceville, VA and graduated from Lawrenceville High School and Mary Baldwin College. Prior to her marriage to Nat in October 1962 she was employed as a social worker for the Department of Social Services in Richmond. Mardie often recalled her work with the less advantaged community in and around Richmond as a formative time in her life that set her on a lifelong journey of caring for her intellectually disabled eldest son, Nathaniel, and his peers. In the early 1970s, Mardie founded what was known at the time as the LAARC (Lynchburg Area Association of Retarded Citizens) School, and subsequently served as acting director, officer, and board member of the school and its parent organization.
Mardie continued her work as a tireless and dedicated advocate for the intellectually disabled community throughout her life. In 1984, she and husband Nat founded a non-profit group home, Hebron, outside of Leesburg, Virginia, which housed and served Nathaniel and, for a time, three other intellectually disabled adults. Mardie moved back to her hometown of Lawrenceville in 1997, following husband Nat’s retirement, bringing son Nathaniel and one of Hebron’s residents, Eric Olson, whom she had adopted as a foster son. She served for nine years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Southside Community Services Board (now Southside Behavioral Health) -- the agency that oversees the welfare of intellectually disabled residents of Brunswick, Mecklenburg, and Halifax Counties – and received a community services award from the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors in 2011 for this work. Mardie and husband Nat continued to care for their son Nathaniel and foster son Eric for many years afterward until they were no longer capable of doing so, at which time, both went to live at group homes where they continue to flourish.
Mardie was a member of a local writers’ club for several years and was a talented poet, building off her work as editor of the literary publications for both Lawrenceville High School and Mary Baldwin College. She was an animal lover and often donated graciously to organizations dedicated to their welfare. Above all, she was a devout Christian and was an active member of Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church, where she served as the clerk of session for several years. Mardie had a deep love for her hometown of Lawrenceville and its residents. She was known and loved by many and will be deeply missed. She was a devoted wife and loving mother to her two children.
A funeral service will be conducted 2:30 p.m. Sunday, December 10, 2023 at Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church, followed by interment at Oakwood Cemetery.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to Southside Behavioral Health: southsidebh.org/donate (indicate in comments in honor of Mrs. Margaret Neblett); or, the charity of your choice.