In Memory of

Virginia Wayne Talbot Harbaugh

Born December 15th, 1930. Died February 10th, 2016.


Virginia Wayne Talbot Harbaugh died February 10, 2016 in Charlottesville, Virginia with her daughter Lyn at her side. Known as Wayne, she was born December 15, 1930 in Savannah, Georgia, the eldest child of Jeannette Butler Strong Talbot of Savannah and Adrian Bancker Talbot of New York City. She grew up in Darien, Connecticut.


After graduation from Smith College in 1952 she moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a research analyst for the National Security Agency.  In Washington she met William Henry Harbaugh, who was doing research in the Library of Congress archives for his history dissertation. They married in 1953 and moved to the University of Connecticut, where he taught history and she worked in the library until the birth of her first child. An active volunteer, she served as president of the Mansfield, Connecticut chapter of the League of Women Voters, and later of the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania chapter, after her husband took a job at Bucknell University. When the family moved to Charlottesville in 1966, she brought her expertise to the LWV committees studying local government and regional planning agencies.


Once her youngest child entered kindergarten, she entered the University of Virginia’s master’s program in planning and urban design. Graduating in 1971, she joined the newly formed Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and later became Executive Director. She served as President of the Virginia Citizens Planning Association from 1976-78 and helped establish the first Institute for Planning Commissioners. She was the first woman to lead a planning district commission in Virginia, helped establish the first Metropolitan Planning Organization in Charlottesville-Albemarle Urban Area, and was also its first planner. The Virginia Women’s Forum named her Woman of the Year in 1982.


She believed in the power of government to do good, and felt privileged to have known planners, government officials, and citizens who worked together to form regional agencies for housing, libraries, health and mental health, and for the aging. After retiring in 1986, she taught transportation planning for two years at UVA and VCU.


Her remarkable memory and intellectual curiosity were undiminished by age. She always wanted to know what her children and grandchildren were learning, fondly recited the poems she had learned as a child, seemed to know the Latin name for every plant she saw, cheered for the Yankees and the UVA women’s basketball team, and made her grandchildren think carefully about which Democrat to support in the primary.


Wayne was preceded in death by her husband of 52 years, her sisters Gail Adams Talbot and Barbara Talbot Rosato, and her granddaughter Justine Kathryn Brennan. She is survived by her children, Lyn Harbaugh (formerly Brennan), Bill Harbaugh (Marjorie Taylor), and Rick Harbaugh (Nandini Gupta), her brothers and sisters, Deborah Talbot, Rick Talbot, Bonnie Cuddy and Adrian Bancker Talbot, Jr., her grandchildren, Amber, Sarah, Anna, Jake, Isha, and Koel, and her nephews and nieces.


She always felt at home among the low wooded hills, clear streams, and rocky shores of southern New England. Her ashes will be interred with those of her husband in Russ Cemetery in Chaplin, Connecticut. Her family invites friends to join them at an informal open house in her Charlottesville home on Saturday, March 19th from 2:00-4:00 with, as she requested, “a toast or two” starting at 3:00.