Sedley woman has created a meaningful life

Published 9:18 am Saturday, May 17, 2014


FRANKLIN—Nancy Cogsdale likes to reminisce about the things that are special in her life — her son and his family, close friends, good neighbors and the community.

But her face brightens through the tears when she talks about her husband, Tom, who sadly passed away less than two years ago.

“He was a wonderful, wonderful man,” she said. “We had such a good life.”

Cogsdale, along with Tom, moved from Sedley to the Village of Woods Edge in early 2011. Both had health problems and decided it would be to their advantage to get closer to their doctors and where they would not have the responsibility of keeping up their home.

“It was a good move,” Cogsdale said. “We have been happy here.”

She smiles as she speaks of the good times they had playing bridge with the other residents and the many good friends they have made.

“And my son is pleased that we have such good care,” she added.

Cogsdale hesitates when it comes to talking about herself, however. Yet this gentle, soft-spoken lady has an impressive list of accomplishments to her credit during her 92 years.

Born just before the Depression, she worked hard to get an education. Cogsdale graduated from Courtland High School and, as she said, “with the help of loans and work scholarships,” she entered Madison College.

After graduation, Cogsdale landed a job teaching at Norview High School in Norfolk. After two years there, she wasn’t really happy.

“I wanted to go places and to do something more meaningful,” Cogsdale said.

This was during WWII and the world was in turmoil. So she volunteered for and was accepted into the Navy as a WAVE.

“This was a whole new world for me,” Cogsdale said. “I thought, ‘What has the little country girl done?”

She excelled in her duties, and as a coding officer was transferred to the Norfolk Naval Base, where she began handling top secret communications concerning movements, supplies and ammunitions for the troops. In addition, Cogsdale was one of the officers selected to train officers coming in from sea duty who needed more knowledge on coding.

She was to spend most of her time in Norfolk, from where she was discharged as a Junior Grade Lieutenant after nearly four years.

Cogsdale said she was married briefly during this time, but like so many military marriages it didn’t last. She has a son from this union, however, and raised him as a single mother.

When Cogsdale returned home after her military service, she taught for a short while at Franklin High School, then secured a job at S.W. Rawls and Son, where she remained for nearly 36 years.

Before and during her marriage to Tom Cogsdale in 1968, she has been active in numerous civic organizations, including the Southampton County Historical Society, of which she is a charter member, the DAR and the Sedley Woman’s Club.

Cogsdale has also received awards for her volunteer work with the cancer society, and has been an active member of the Sedley Baptist Church.

She and her husband, Tom, who also served in the military, were the only husband and wife members of American Legion Post 73 in Franklin.

“Tom and I always attended the veterans’ appreciation program at the Sedley Baptist Church,” Cogsdale said. “We were always so patriotic, it was an honor to be there.”

She has been involved in so many community activities, it is hard to pinpoint them all. It has always been her desire, however, to help in any way she can.

In doing so, the grandmother said she donated her uniforms to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, “not for any credit on my part, but because I found out that there were not too many WAVE uniforms there and mine were in pretty good shape. I felt like it was the right thing to do.”

She is proud of her family, of course, but has a special affection for her grandson, Michael Bon.

“He joined the Navy right out of high school, because that’s where grandma served,” she said with a big smile.