Virginia (Binny) Frederic Webb
Binny was born in New Orleans and grew up in Shreveport, LA. She had a wonderful childhood, particularly enjoying attending Southfield, a small private school, where she made life-long friends. Her adoring and adorable father, Harris Frederic, owned a machine parts company, and her spitfire of a mother enjoyed socializing with her bridge friends. She had a vivacious younger sister, Anne.
She attended Newcomb college (now part of Tulane), where she dated a Tulane pre-medical student, Clarence H. Webb, Jr. who was also from Shreveport. An oft repeated story is that Clarence broke up with her after she stood him up for a date, but a year later asked her out again after learning that she had just been to Europe and wanting to hear about it. They married following graduation.
Binny briefly worked as a social worker in the field of older children adoptions, but found she was too soft-hearted for such work, often coming home crying about not being able to find adoptive parents for the children. At the same time, she and Clarence decided it was time to have a baby. Since Clarence made so little money as an intern at Charity Hospital, Binny’s father generously hired her as a “secretary” (who didn’t do much work) at his company. She had her first child, Sarah, a year later, and second child, Bill, three and a half years after that.
Binny was the most wonderful mother you could ask for, the quintessential mom who was always there for her children as portrayed on 50’s television shows. She was a housewife but was extremely busy volunteering. She was on the boards of Mississippi Art Association and the Mississippi Opera Association and often was the chairperson for their benefit events. She was president of the MS State Medical Association Auxillary, and in that role, was involved in immunization campaigns for polio and measles. She was on the board of the Youth Crisis Center and was a congressional district women’s chairwoman.
After the children went off to college, Binny decided to study French cooking. She attended Le Cordon Bleu in London and Lenotre in Paris and studied with virtually all of the famous U.S. French cooking teachers of the time, including Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, James Beard, and Craig Claiborne, and other well known continental cuisine chefs such as Julie Denenbaum and John Clancy. She took numerous trips to Europe (more than 20 to France) to study for weeks at a time at cooking schools abroad. Clarence very much enjoyed going on these trips, as he was the beneficiary of the products of the classes each day.
Binny started teaching cooking lessons at her house for groups of 12 or so people, predominantly French but also Creole cooking. After the lesson, the group would enjoy the food they had prepared. She even taught a well received series of men’s cooking lessons to a group of doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc. at a time when most men did not take cooking lessons. Binny became quite well-known in Jackson for her cooking abilities, and was often asked to cook or oversee cooking for events. She loved entertaining, and it was a treat to be invited to one of her fabulous dinner parties or the annual large New Year’s Eve party. John Clancy wrote her a letter suggesting that she publish a cookbook, but she preferred to give her recipes to her cooking students. Many of her former students still cherish those recipes.
Travel was Binny and Clarence’s favorite activity. Every summer when the children were growing up, they had a 2-3 week road trip, often to National Parks, and visited 47 states. After Clarence retired, they took at least four trips a year, all over the world. One favorite trip was their 50th anniversary cruise to the Greek Islands and Turkey with Sarah and Bill and their spouses.
Binny was known for her love of walking. Until she had some falls limiting her mobility in her last few years, she walked at least an hour every day, no matter the weather. She loved walking with an assortment of different friends every day to visit with them. Her other hobbies were studying French language, tennis and oil painting. She loved opera and played it whenever she was cooking.
Binny adored her grandchildren, Mark, Michael and Jeffrey, and was especially close to Michael, who would visit each summer by himself. Clarence died in 2007, and Binny was heartbroken. She even gave up cooking. In 2009, Sarah came to live with her to cheer her up, and they lived together until Binny moved to the Orchard in 2017. After she gave up cooking, Binny took up bridge, and became quite a good player, especially considering she learned duplicate bridge in her 80’s.
In addition to her husband Clarence, Binny was preceded in death by her parents, Harris Frederic and Sally Schneidau Frederic, and her sister Anne Frederic Carstens. She is survived by her children Dr. Sarah Virginia Webb and Dr. William (Bill) Frederic Webb, and Billl’s wife Dr. Rhonda Perritt Webb, who was like a daughter to her. Grandchildren are Dr. Mark Frederic Dalesandro, Michael Webb and Jeffrey Webb. Her niece Susan Carstens Menache was also like a daughter to her, and Susan’s daughter Meredith Menache was like a granddaughter.
Binny will be buried alongside her husband, mother and father in Shreveport, LA. There will be a small family ceremony. In lieu of flowers, please donate to one of her favorite causes, the Mississippi Museum of Art, Opera Mississippi or the Garden Club of Jackson.
Posted online on December 02, 2021
Published in The Shreveport Times