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In Memoriam

E. W. Chittum
Edwin Wilson Chittum

The Norfolk-Virginian Pilot (Norfolk, VA), Sunday, November 16, 2003

CHESAPEAKE - Edwin Wilson Chittum, 91, formerly of Chesapeake and longtime resident of Great Bridge, died Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2003 at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.

Mr. Chittum was a former superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools and a founding father of the City of Chesapeake.

Born in Fairfield, Va., Mr. Chittum was the son of the late Stuart A. and Maude Weeks Chittum and was married for 65 years to the late Sue Kennedy Chittum. He was also predeceased by two brothers, William B. Chittum and P. Winston Chittum and two sisters, Elizabeth Burrell and Faye Webb.

He graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1933. His first teaching position was a one-room school in Rockbridge County. In 1934, Mr. Chittum began teaching English, history and math, as well as coaching all sports at a school in Staunton, Va. He was well-equipped for the job, having been a catcher on his college baseball team and a high jumper on the track team. A knee injury forced him to quit football and basketball. After service as a high school principal in Augusta County and in Waynesboro, Va., Mr. Chittum joined the Norfolk County Schools in 1944. In 1945, he became principal of Norview High School. Chittum Field, the athletic stadium at Norview High School, was named for him in 1958. That same year, E.W. Chittum Elementary School was also named for him.

Appointed Norfolk County superintendent in 1949, Mr. Chittum had a team style of leadership. He said he had learned it as player and coach in a variety of sports. Calmness and patience in bad situations were other lessons he said sports had taught him. When Norfolk County and the city of South Norfolk merged to form Chesapeake in 1963, he became superintendent of schools in the new municipality. An active participant in the county-city negotiations that led to the merger, his personal style was that of a quiet power broker. In 1972, Mr. Chittum was named Chesapeake's First Citizen. The citation said that his "unique ability" had guided the city schools toward many commendations. Some of the civic duties he was most proud of were his service as chairman of the fund-raising committee that conducted the successful drive to finance the construction of Chesapeake General Hospital and chairman of the fund-raising committee for Eastern Virginia Medical School. He later served on the Board of Governors for that institution. He was known for his keen business sense and, after his retirement as superintendent in 1975, he became involved in a wide range of business and civic affairs, including First Virginia Bank, AAA of Tidewater and the Hunter Foundation. Mr. Chittum was the founding president of the Chesapeake Rotary Club.

Mr. Chittum is survived by his two daughters, Dr. Susan Lynne Chittum and husband Dr. Robert Hallmark of Virginia Beach, currently stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan and Carol Anne Chittum of Norfolk; and a sister-in-law, Frances Chittum of Fairfield, Va.

The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Oak Grove United Methodist Church by the Rev. Randy McMillen. Interment will follow in Chesapeake Memorial Gardens. Viewing will begin on Tuesday with the family receiveing friends from 6 to 9 p.m. at Oman Funeral Home & Crematory, Great Bridge Chapel, 653 Cedar Road, Chesapeake. Memorial donations may be made to Eastern Virginia Medical School, 358 Mowbray Arch, Norfolk, VA 23510. In a 1982 newspaper interview, Mr. Chittum recalled that teaching had been the most enjoyable part of his career because it allowed him to watch children develop in mind and body and to be close to all their youthful energy.