Style and Substance
Remembering Lexington’s Legendary Virginia ‘Din’ Dulworth
It was a warm and rainy March Sunday at Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park — the buds on the trees and the daffodils were poking up optimistically, but not quite blooming — a typical Spring Sunday in the bluegrass.
On the left side of the park, the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation celebrated their annual Antique and Garden Show.
On the right side of the park, past the reflecting pools that shimmered in the driving rain, at the American Saddlebred Museum, hundreds of guests gathered at the Museum to toast the memory of Virginia (“Din”) Obrecht Dulworth.
Friends and family were welcomed to “her final party,” with a round of cosmopolitans. An occasional grumble of thunder and frequent lightning bolts punctuated the conversation as the standing-room-only crowd shared lively memories of this one of a kind adopted Kentucky gal. As befitting her stature, even though the skies registered their vocal protest that she should leave us at all, as the heavens wept and the winds roared in typical March fashion, everyone still showed up to send her off in style.
Virginia (Din) Obrecht Dulworth died unexpectedly and peacefully the afternoon of February 15, 2022, the day after Valentine’s Day, having enjoyed a sociable breakfast just that morning with friends. She was a month shy of her 94th birthday celebration.
Born Virginia Puckett Obrecht, Jr. on March 21, 1928, she was a 1946 graduate of Tudor Hall (now Park-Tudor), Indianapolis, and a 1948 graduate of Briarcliff Junior College in Westchester County, New York. She later attended the University of Louisville School of Music at Garden Court. She was a gifted pianist, writer, poet, and artist. She was published in Highlights Magazine for Children. She was a member of Sisters in Crime writers, and a contributor to their two published anthologies Low Down and Derby and Mystery, With a Splash of Bourbon.
ArtConnects’ Kate Savage described her as “quite the treat to be with.”
Local horsewoman Michal Renau Rasmussen recalled, “She served with my dad on the board of the Rock Creek Riding Club. She was always a character I remember from my childhood…another great one from that generation gone.”
Writer Ruthie Maslin described her as “such a bright light [with] such a big personality and bigger heart!”
Perhaps slightly less known among the diverse array of arts and entertainment she supported and enjoyed over her 90+ years, if you invited her to either a Downton Abbey or a Breaking Bad Marathon, you didn’t have to ask twice. “My dear,” she would ask without hesitation, “what shall I bring?”
She was married to Early Vaughn Dulworth of Louisville, KY., a real estate developer, builder, and businessman, until his death in 1989. As an artist, she illustrated the cover of a Louisville Orchestra playbill and performed as an extra in productions of the Louisville Opera Association. She was chair of the Episcopal Young Church Women for St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. She directed the Clothes Closet at Christ Church Cathedral (Louisville) for a decade. She was named a Docent Emeritus at the Speed Museum in gratitude for her years of service. She also instituted an outreach program, “Prime Time,” to take slide programs to local facilities for the elderly. She recorded books for the Kentucky School for the Blind. She was a docent at the Kentucky Horse Park for special exhibits.
Her memberships included the Pendennis Club, Rock Creek Riding Club (as a Hall of Famer), the American Saddlebred Museum, the Filson Historical Society, the Highland Mother’s Club, the Griffin Gate Garden Club, and others.
You can find the history of the Rock Creek Riding Club, written and signed by “Virginia Obrecht Dulworth (Mrs. E.V.).” She wrote “Harold Morgeson, who served an unprecedented and consecutive 17 terms as Rock Creek’s President, once said: ‘The Rock Creek Horse Show, the Lexington Junior League Horse Show in July and the Kentucky State Fair World Championship Horse Show in August, are to the American Saddlebred Horse what the ‘Triple Crown’ is to the thoroughbred.’” It was 1933 when the first Rock Creek Horse Show was staged but for the membership alone.
As a native Hoosier who had adopted Kentucky as her home state, she was particularly proud of her membership in the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.
In 1997, Dulworth moved to Lexington to be closer to her daughters, all of whom lived in central Kentucky.
For many years, she made her home in Lexington’s Griffin Gate Community where she made an entire community of new friends.
She is survived by her daughter Virginia (Jenny) Dulworth Albert and son in law Steven M. Albert of Lexington; her daughter Jane Christie Dulworth Jacobs and son-in-law Brent A. Jacobs of Georgetown; and her son-in-law Joseph T. Smith of Harrodsburg.
Her sense of humor and style (and recipe for caramels) live on in her grandchildren, Brooke Jacobs of Lexington; Evan Obrecht Albert of Louisville; Lauren Virginia Albert of Atlanta; Vaughn Smith of Cincinnati; as well as her loving friend and caregiver, Tara Hopkins of Lexington.
As she once put it herself, when expressing her gratitude to the guests of the Rock Creek Horse Show, “Thanks to you all, who in our past have brought us so honorably to the present.”
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Saddlebred Museum, 4083 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY, 40511.
This article also appears as the cover story of the April 2022 print edition of Ace, Lexington’s original citywide magazine, founded in 1989.