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‘Legacy of perseverance’: University of Lynchburg’s first Black graduate dies at 88

Helen Mundy Witt graduated from then-Lynchburg College in 1967

The University of Lynchburg is remembering its first Black graduate.
The University of Lynchburg is remembering its first Black graduate.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Loved ones gathered Thursday morning to remember the life and legacy of Helen Mundy Witt, who died at the age of 88.

In 1967, Witt became the first Black graduate of Lynchburg College – now known as the University of Lynchburg.

Annette Stadtherr, director of the university’s multicultural services, said Witt spent her later years visiting the multicultural center with students.

“I think her legacy is making a difference and persevering,” said Stadtherr.

Witt persevered as a Hill City native, who was also part of Dunbar High School’s first Black tennis team.

She became an educator and taught Central Virginia and Southside students for more than three decades.

Witt later became an author and wrote about her experiences.

She even brought family and students to spend summers at a Connecticut tobacco farm.

“It’s not like it was work, but more as educating young folks about hard work and persevering and making a difference,” said Stadtherr.

For her work, the university created the Helen Mundy Witt Multicultural Service Award – given to those creating a culture of inclusion on campus.

Stadtherr was the first recipient.

“To live in her shadow is just an incredible honor,” said Stadtherr.

Many more live in that shadow through the Helen Mundy Witt Society, dedicated to networking among the university’s Black alumni.

All this to keep Witt’s legacy alive.

“Don’t let one hurdle stop you from continuing what you want. Pursue your dreams at all costs,” said Stadtherr.

A lesson we could all use from this pioneer.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.