Obituary: Sarah Virginia de Ganahl Russell
April 2, 1931 — August 16, 2018
Sarah Virginia de Ganahl Russell, formerly of Yampa, was born in New York, New York, April 2, 1931 and died in Vero Beach, Florida, August 16, 2018. She was the daughter of Joe de Ganahl and Josephine Coombs de Ganahl. She grew up in New York, Virginia, and Alaska. She married Thomas Hale Russell in 1952. In 1954, Tom and Ginny moved to the Lazy EH Ranch in Yampa with her brother Chuck and his wife Pat, where they enjoyed eleven years ranching and raising children together.
The Russell family moved to Brandon, Vermont in 1965, where Virginia became an active member of the community, volunteering for the American Cancer Society, the local school board, and the town library, among others. She was a driving force in the renaissance of Brandon, Vermont as a dynamic arts community.
Her love for others drew her to service in many causes and organizations, where she was known as a dynamic innovator. She was a long time supporter of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra; was President of the Dvorak International Federation, which promotes a more efficient keyboard layout; and founded Classic Concepts, later Natural Elegance, which sold marble products. For her service as Chair of the Board of Sterling College in Vermont in the early 1990s, she received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Sterling in 2016.
After Tom’s death in 1995, Virginia remarried Charles Kimmel in 1999. In 2003, Virginia and Charlie moved to Vero Beach, Florida, where she continued as a dedicated supporter of the arts.
A passionate and vivacious personality, Virginia left an impression on anyone she met. She loved to meet new people and had a singular knack for turning strangers into immediate friends. Whether speaking to a new acquaintance or a longtime friend, Virginia had the ability to make people feel respected and heard. Anyone who knew Virginia could testify that you were unlikely to meet another person like her.
Virginia was predeceased by husband Thomas, and by her brother Charles de Ganahl, formerly of Yampa, and is survived by husband Charles, of Vero Beach. She leaves seven children and their spouses and partners: George and wife Judith Russell, of Burlington, Vermont; Sarah Russell and husband Rodney Lowe, of Burlington; Edward and wife Margaret B. Russell, of Byfield, Massachusetts; Josephine Russell Mayo and husband Thomas Mayo, of Desert Hot Springs, California; Charles and wife Julia Russell, of Charlotte, Vermont; Michael and wife Margaret Russell, of Charlotte; and Kenneth Russell and partner Rhonda Prensky, of Montpelier, Vermont. Virginia leaves twelve grandchildren: Christopher, Patrick, Elizabeth, Bethany, Grady, Frances, Sarah, Ruby, Katharine, Amanda, Michael, and Thomas; two step-grandchildren, Ethan and Nellie, and one great-granddaughter, Sarah. She also leaves her four de Ganahl nephews and a niece, and their families, scattered around the West after their many years ranching in Yampa.
Donations may be made in Virginia’s name to the ALS Association, Washington, DC, or to Sterling College, Craftsbury Common, Vermont.
A celebration of her life, to be held in Vermont, will be announced later.
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