Remembrance: Emyl Jenkins 


When Emyl Jenkins was a little girl, her mother responded to whines and complaints in one way: “Mary Louise, make yourself content.”

Mary Louise Joslin Sexton, who adopted the pen name Emyl Jenkins, took that message to heart. The first thing an acquaintance learned about her was that she was happy, extremely happy, with a bone-deep warmth and optimism that touched everyone drawn into her circle. And did she ever draw people in — from everywhere.

To mystery lovers, Jenkins was a don't-put-it-down favorite, with two witty novels featuring antiques appraiser Sterling Glass. To the antiques aficionados who read her books about decorating or saw her segments on national morning shows, she was a beacon. To many she was a gracious and beloved friend. She was first on the scene in a crisis (illness, romantic trauma, home repair disaster) and loved throwing parties to celebrate others' successes. She and her husband, Bob Sexton, might even take you out to dinner for having been kind enough to let them give the party.

Jenkins liked doing. She was a mainstay of several community organizations, including her church and the boards of the Executive Mansion, the Library of Virginia (where an annual fiction award will now bear her name) and the James River Writers. She was an enthusiastic mentor. If she knew you were thinking of a book, she'd pull you into a corner to hear all about it, praise you extravagantly, then give suggestions for writing something you might like better. She inspired many new writers to get started and gave others (like me) a much-needed kick in medias res.

Shortly before cancer claimed Jenkins on April 27, she told her husband and her children that she wanted everyone to “think happy thoughts.” She was a beaming, bustling, fairy-dust-sprinkling imp of a Southern lady. I feel happy, extremely happy, to have known her.


Latest in News and Features


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Elephants on a Wire

    Elephants on a Wire

    A crowded field of Republican gubernatorial candidates embraces ranked voting in a battle for the soul of their party.
    • May 4, 2021
  • Vote Now

    Vote Now

    Vote for your favorites in the 2021 Best Of Richmond
    • May 1, 2021
  • Find Your Scent

    Find Your Scent

    New custom candle-making company in Midlothian allows customers to craft their own scented products.
    • Apr 27, 2021
  • Keep Walking

    Keep Walking

    As a panacea to the pandemic, a German hiker tackles all of Virginia’s state parks.
    • Apr 20, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation