Grace Tinsley

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Grace Quarles Tinsley (1933-2006) was an advocate for public education and was one of several African American nurses who integrated UVA Hospital.

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Legacy in Charlottesville

Educated entirely in South Carolina public schools, Tinsley fought for better education in the public schools of Charlottesville. She was Charlottesville High School’s first school nurse, and became the first African American woman to serve on the Charlottesville City School Board.

Tinsley was the chair of the board of Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center, and served as the City of Charlottesville representative on the board of Piedmont Virginia Community College.[1]

In the 1990s, Tinsley worked with General Assembly member Mitch Van Yahres to bring a public defender's office to Charlottesville, and helped to establish a community advisory committee for the office. [2]

In 2002, she was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award.


After her death in 2006, the Charlottesville Democratic Party created a scholarship for seniors at Charlottesville High School who embody her best characteristics as a community leader.[3] As of 2017, more than 30 students had received Grace Tinsley Scholarships.[4] [5]

Bridge Builder

Tinsley was also a member of the inaugural class of "bridge builders" in the Charlottesville Community whose names are inscribed on the Drewary Brown Memorial Bridge. [6]

Frances Brand portrait

Tinsley is one of several people commemorated by the late 20th-century artist Frances Brand as part of her Firsts series. [7]

Grace Tinsley as depicted by Frances Brand
Grace Tinsley as depicted by Frances Brand


  1. Web. Event honors work of Tinsley scholarship, Bryan McKenzie, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, December 30, 2010, retrieved August 1, 2022.
  2. Web. "Working With the Community, for the Community", Toby Fey, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, 1998, retrieved August 1, 2022.
  3. Web. HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5141: Celebrating the life of Grace Tinsley, General Assembly, Virginia Legislative Information System, September 28, 2006, retrieved August 1, 2022.
  4. Web. Grace Tinsley Scholarship, The Charlottesville Democratic Party, retrieved January 27, 2017.
  5. Web. Scholarship fundraiser honors late Charlottesville education leader, Josh Mandell, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 13, 2017, retrieved August 1, 2022.
  6. Web. [ BridgeBuilders 2001–2016 Charlottesville, VA], Booklet, Preservation Piedmont, retrieved August 1, 2022.
  7. Branigan, Michelle Marie (December 1998). A Biography of Frances Brand, an American Painter and Social Activist (PhD). Indiana University.

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