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Virginia Lizabeth “Ginny” King
Maybe like me, you’re finding it hard to believe that we are saying “farewell” to Ginny today. Many of us haven’t been able to see Ginny recently, due to Virus restrictions and the building often being closed.
As a consequence, for most of us, Ginny is still very much alive in our imaginations. We can picture her at the front desk in the Finance and Registrar’s Office, her work space tidy, even in the middle of a complex project.
We can hear her warm musical voice, welcoming people, asking how she could be of help. AND we can picture the bowl of candy, which miraculously was always full. To me, that candy dish was a sweet token of all Ginny gave to us in her life.
She had times of real stress and sorrow, especially as her beloved husband George became ill and slipped away a few years back. Yet somehow, Ginny was able to rise above her own sorrows and be there for others.
For example, Parish Stewardship leaders who needed help with detailed and time-consuming projects always found Ginny unfailingly courteous and helpful. And twice a year, St. Paul’s would mark the time to change our clocks by sponsoring a “Day of Change” and collect fistfuls of coins in a big glass bottle to donate to the food Bank. Ginny cheerfully counted all those coins, by hand until St. Paul’s had mercy on her and bought a coin sorting machine!
Ginny’s very presence brought lightness and laughter to all the staff she served with through the years, both in times of celebration and sorrow. She was especially close to Sue Starner with whom she shared an office, and lots of laughter and companionship; and her dear life-long friend Lois Smith, whose family used to vacation with Ginny’s family sometimes. Lois sums up Ginny in these five words: she was gracious, kind, feisty, dedicated and loyal.
To which all the clergy who served alongside her would say “amen!” I’m sure I’m speaking for all of them when I say: not a day went by that I wasn’t grateful for Ginny: her immense attention to detail, her cheerful willingness to go the extra mile—and, yes, her elegant handwriting.
Trained in calligraphy, Ginny made the canonical register (a big boring looking book) a work of art. I often felt like I was committing an act of vandalism by adding my homely signature to the entries in the book, a situation that Ginny may have been aware of, since she often kindly left a fine pen for me to use to sign the book.
As you may know, Ginny married her child-hood sweetheart, George. They endured a year’s separation right after they were married, when George shipped out to Vietnam. But when he came home, they built a wonderful life together in the house at 436 Volusia which George had inherited from his parents.
Together, they raised their daughter Kirstin, celebrated her marriage to Tim and
welcomed their granddaughters, Lillian and Eloise. Some of their best memories revolve around Ginny and that house: how Ginny loved cross stich samplers, some with inspirational quotations from the Bible and filled her walls with them.
And her family recalls how enthusiastic she was about crossword puzzles and how she collaborated on them over the telephone with Cathy, her beloved sister in Texas; and how Ginny’s attention to small details extended to many things especially planning for trips.
She’d start a list 3 months early so when the day arrived, the family would be all set. One of her favorite yearly getaways was to Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. She loved being out in boat with George, skimming across the water, feeling the wind in her face. She was adventuresome enough to try water-skiing and got pretty good at it. But her favorite part was simply lying by the water, hearing the waves lap on the shore, listening to music and feeling wrapped in the warm sun. It must have seemed to her like a little foretaste of the promise in Ps. 23.
He leadeth me beside the still waters; he restoreth my soul. Or as Jesus puts it to his troubled, anxious disciples: If I go away, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am there you may be also. (John 14:1-6). He is trying to say to them—and to us—that in his going away, he was not abandoning us. It was in fact the fullest expression of his love, showing through the cross that he goes before us through the gates of death and then returns to walk with us our Shepherd.
On July 2, Jesus kept this very promise to Ginny: He took her by the hand, and gently led her to the still waters, the place prepared, where her tears have been wiped away, her suffering ended; where she is fully alive and fully herself.
Ginny will always live, not just in our hearts and our memories, but also in the very heart of God who made her and sent her here to us and now embraces her completely.
This same Good Shepherd is here among us: and if we give him our hand, he will comfort us in this loss of Ginny, lead us to the still waters, restore our souls, and give us what we need for the days to come.
Gregory P. Sammons +
July 11, 2020
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church