Elizabeth (Libba) Lapsley Pendergrast, 91, died on December 14, 2021, at the Brandon Wilde retirement community near Augusta, Georgia.
Libba was born January 7, 1930, in Staunton, Virginia, the eldest child of Samuel B and Elizabeth Irwin Lapsley. Her father was a Presbyterian pastor, whose work took the family through many moves. They lived in Virginia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee. By the time Libba was in college she had moved seven times. This wandering lifestyle led her to make friends quickly wherever she lived. She was outgoing, energetic, and gregarious. When her children visited her at Brandon Wilde, during a walk down the hallway she introduced us to nearly everyone we would meet as “my friend.”
Libba graduated high school in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in music education. She was committed to lifelong learning, and in the late 1990s studied at Columbia Theological Seminary and was awarded a Certificate in Spiritual Formation in 2001. She especially loved the retreats at the Trappist monastery in Conyers, Georgia, that were part of that program.
Being the eldest child of a pastor and a gifted pianist and organist, Libba took leadership roles in the church all her life. She met her husband, Bob, when she was a substitute church organist and he was filling in as choir director. She filled in playing the organ at churches all over Atlanta through the years. She was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and served in leadership positions as Moderator of Presbyterian Women for Atlanta Presbytery and for the Synod of the Southeast. She loved going to the national women's conferences and connecting with national church leaders at those gatherings. Montreat Conference Center had a special place in her heart. Her love of music lives on in her children, whom she taught to sing hymns around the piano at an early age.
Libba showed her courage and ability to adapt to new situations when she married into the Pendergrast family and moved in to a house just down the hill from her in-laws, surrounded by the families of two of Bob's brothers. Eventually, there was a well-worn path through the woods and up the hill to Granny and JB's house. The Pendergrast home was a warm and welcoming place for family and friends alike. After all the moves through her childhood and adolescence, Atlanta became her home for sixty years until she moved to Augusta after Bob died.
Libba is survived by a sister, Kay Carleton, three children: Sam, Robert, and Ruth; two daughters-in-law, Cynthia and Gail; and eight grandchildren, Allan Pendergrast, James Pendergrast, Michael Pendergrast, Rachel Pendergrast, Julia Smith and husband Tim, Joseph Pendergrast, Kaleb Yoder, and Isaak Yoder. She was predeceased by her husband, Robert A Pendergrast, and her brother, Norvell A Lapsley.
The memorial service has been postponed until it is again possible to gather safely. Memorial gifts may be sent to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance https://pda.pcusa.org/ or to Emory Presbyterian Church.
Thank you to the staff at the Colonnade and the Pavilion at Brandon Wilde for your kindness and compassionate care.
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