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'It could happen to you, even at 92'

Janet Nash / Special to the Bulletin
Virginia Nunnelee-Warren is pictured in her Early home.

Early resident Virginia Nunnelee-Warren, 94, wrote a book at age 92. Nunnelee-Warren talked about the book, "It Could Happen To You, Even at 92," which was self-published, and her life in a recent interview in her Early home.

Virginia Nunnelee-Warren has lived most of her life as a Brown county resident, being born in 1927 on a Sunday afternoon in Thrifty, Texas to Eddie Marion Cunningham and Leona Lane Cunningham.

Virginia grew up in Brown County and left for California in her mid-20's with her husband Bradford “Brad” Nunnelee. The decision to leave Texas was due to a severe drought which challenged Brad and Virginia’s ability to provide for their family.  The couple moved back and forth from Texas to California a couple of times before coming back to Texas to stay.

 After 45 years of marriage, Brad Nunnelee died and later Virginia married Johnny Warren. Virginia was married to Johnny Warren 28 years when he passed away at the age of 97.

 After living through three wars, raising five children and outliving two husbands, Virginia was compelled to write a book about the blessings and challenges experienced during her life. Friends had encouraged Virginia to write the book because she has led an interesting life. 

Virginia’s book, "It Could Happen to You, Even at 92" was self-published in 2019 when Virginia was 92 years old. She said the book was written “old-school,” hand-written in pages of a notebook and took about six months to complete.

Virginia prides herself on her memory and wrote her book by simply recalling the events of her life and writing them down. She said she's always been an avid writer, not writing books, but by recording the events of her life in diaries since 1988.

The biggest challenge of writing this book, Virginia recounts, is the time commitment.  She would sit down and write a little every day, sometimes writing for hours. Six months later the book was finished in raw form and ready for editing before being published.

She credits her grandson for playing an integral role in turning the hand-written manuscript into print and getting it ready to publish. Virginia admits she does not know if anyone will find her book interesting but that is not the main reason she wrote it. She wrote the book as part of her personal journey.

She has currently sold about 100 copies of her first book and has begun hand-writing a second book which will be a chronology of her life in more detail. 

Virginia, now 94, was interviewed in her home in Early where she talked about the book she wrote and recounted some of the interesting events of her life.

Virginia’s mother was a trained psychiatric nurse. Becoming a nurse was a natural occupation to pursue because back in those days women typically didn’t work unless they became a nurse.  Nursing continued in the family with Virginia's aunts, a daughter, and two grandchildren becoming nurses as well.  

Virginia was raised within a family of artists.  Her mother, grandmother, aunt, everyone painted.  Her grandmother was a concert pianist who went to college during WWI. She traveled by horse and buggy to teach music.  

In her younger years, Virginia recalls being told she “beats to a different drummer”.  While all the other girls her age were screaming about the celebrities of that time, she remembers thinking their behavior was “stupid.”  She does, however, admit to liking Elvis Presley.

Virginia explained she has had such an unusual life. By the time she was 10 she nearly drowned, she was chased up a hill by cottonmouth snakes, she watched her house burn, and her father died when she was 4 1/2  years old.  She also had a pet racoon. 

She lived back in the days before indoor plumbing and automated washing machines.  She married when she was 15 and her first husband, Brad, was sent off to fight World War II when she was 16. Brad’s family were horse traders and dairy farmers and worked hard, seven days a week. 

Family beds were stuffed with goose feathers picked off of live geese and butter was churned by hand.  In contrast, Virginia came from a family that painted, played the piano, and partook in games such as bridge, checkers and dominos.  While the contrast between Virginia’s upbringing and her first husband’s upbringing was evident, his family quickly accepted Virginia into the family.

When her first husband died, she married a second time and the couple enjoyed many years together before his death in 2018. 

Virginia lives independently with her two Dachshund dogs in the home her and her late husband shared and is blessed with family who live close by, visit frequently, and help her take care of things she can no longer do by herself. Copies of Virginia’s book are currently being sold on Amazon.com.