Virginia Walters Obituary (1925 – 2022) – Shelburne, VT
Ginny was born on May 26, 1925, to Walter and Natalie Fried in New York, the middle of three daughters. She enjoyed her early years at Birch Wathen School in New York, a highly progressive school founded by two women who were dedicated to providing girls and boys with a rich education in the sciences and cultural arts. Family summers on Lake Paradox in the Adirondacks were filled with hikes, picnics, swims, boating, and lazy afternoons with a good book.
Ginny graduated from Smith College in 1947 and went on to earn her M.S. and Ph.D. in physics at Western Reserve University. She was among the first women with a doctorate in physics in the United States. Ginny was a physics teacher for many years, but her love of teaching really blossomed when she taught at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, where, as she says, students had to do their homework and go to bed on time. As one student’s parents wrote in a letter that Ginny kept for fifty years: “You showed my son in a real and practical way what we all try to show our children: to think, to grow, to have relationships with others…from the bottom of my heart, Mrs. Walters, thank you.
After dating every weekend in high school, Ginny married Richard (Dick) Walters in 1945. They raised their family in Cleveland, Ohio, and were founding members of the Holimont Ski Club in Ellicottville, NY, where they built a small chalet and welcomed many raucus. parties. In retirement, Dick and Ginny sailed extensively across the Great Lakes, East Coast, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, British Columbia, Alaska and Lake Champlain. They became seasonal ski nomads, driving their custom motorhome out West to ski every winter in the many areas where skiing was free if you were over 75. Ginny continued to ski in the early 90s.
Ginny’s daughters and grandchildren have many endearing stories of Ginny explaining wave theory or teaching them math or patiently teaching them to ski or designing and knitting reindeer sweaters, which have now been passed down to the Ginny’s great-grandson. We all had a good laugh when we discovered a little card in her purse that listed important physics constants like Avagadro’s number in lowercase (with a date of 1963 and a price of five cents).
Ginny has written dozens of articles for physics publications, children’s magazines, and sailing and travel magazines. She loved puzzles of all kinds and was thrilled when, at the age of 86, she was called upon by NPR’s Will Shortz to participate in NPR’s Sunday Puzzle, which she successfully completed (https://www.npr.org/transcripts/144234795). Ginny could recite the lyrics to many Gilbert and Sullivan tunes, and we honored her 95th birthday with an adaptation, Professor of the Physical (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTSw1hfFUGo).
At one point, when Ginny had a brain scan after a spill on the tennis court, the young doctor looked at the scan and said it must belong to someone else who was much younger. The doctor had never seen such a big brain in an 85-year-old. Maybe it’s because every night when Ginny fell asleep, she did the squares and square roots of numbers. Even in her final days, Ginny described to her daughters what her brain was doing while her body was failing.
Ginny passed on her lifelong dedication to environmental awareness to her children and grandchildren. For her, as a child of the Depression, there was no such thing as throwing things away. As she has downsized in recent years, she reminded us that items can be redone, reused, or donated. Ginny was deeply disturbed by the quadrupling of the world’s population in her lifetime, a growth rate she recognized as unsustainable. She hoped that future generations would be able to curb this growth and help alleviate the overexploitation of the land.
Ginny gave her time to causes she believed in. She volunteered for twenty years meticulously maintaining Planned Parenthood’s donor database because she believed strongly in the work of the organization. She also chaired the Wake Robin IT Committee for twenty years, helping residents with their technology.
Dick and Ginny co-founded Patient Choices Vermont (PCV) in 2002. Their joint leadership was instrumental in passing Vermont Law 39, which authorizes physician-assisted dying for phased Vermonters. terminal. Ginny was the backbone of the organization, managing the supporter database, website, communications and finances, while brainstorming with Dick to forge a successful strategy.
Ginny mourned the loss of her grandson, Jake Hawley, last summer. She is survived by her daughters Nancy (Bill) Hawley of Milton, Vt., Betsy Walkerman (partner Jonathan Crocker) of Underhill, Vt., her granddaughters, Karen Walkerman, Sally Walkerman (Nick Calverey), her great- grandson, Leo Walkerman Calverey, and his former son-in-law, Steve (Michelle) Walkerman, as well as his niece and nephews, Tamar Kummel, David Kaufman, Don Kaufman and Doug Kaufman. Ginny was predeceased by her husband, Dick Walters, and her sisters, Ellen Kaufman and Marion Kummel.
A memorial rally will be held at a later date.
Ginny has requested that, if desired, contributions to her memory be sent to Patient Choices Vermont, PO Box 671, Shelburne, VT 05482 (https://www.patientchoices.org/donate.html), or to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-northern-new-england/get-involved-locally/donate-copy).
Published by Stephen C. Gregory and Son Cremation Service from January 21 to January 22, 2022.