Virginia Griffith Helwig
May 02, 1934 ‒ April 03, 2020
Virginia Aneta Griffith Helwig passed away on April 3, 2020 at Willowbrook Christian Village in Delaware, Ohio where she had been a resident since November. Virginia was born on May 2, 1934 to Eleanor Shade Griffith and Edward Griffith at Grady Memorial Hospital in Delaware, Ohio. She was a proud member of one of the founding families of Delaware County and grew up a farm girl. Her work ethic, lifelong love of nature and being outside began in the fields with her Daddy and her Great Dane dogs as she helped to raise turkeys on the family farm.
She graduated as one of 10 students from Berlin High School in 1952 and then went on to graduate from Ohio Wesleyan University where she was in the first class of women to march in the OWU marching band and where she met her husband, Richard. They were married in 1954 and for nearly fifty years, before his death in 2004, they were true partners in life. Together, they were founders of Auglaize Village in Defiance, Ohio and the Center for Ghost Town Research in Ohio as well as serving on Historical Society Boards in Defiance County, Delaware County and Big Walnut Area. She was an expert on pioneer cooking and would accompany her husband and later her son to Civil War re-enactments where she would serve as camp cook.
She was a fourth generation teacher who officially spent 42 years in classrooms throughout Ohio. Whether she was on the farm, in the classroom or in a living history costume, she was passionate about learning. She was most proud of her years as a first grade teacher at Noble Elementary in Northeastern Local Schools near Defiance, serving as a founder of the Young People’s Theatre Guild there, as a folk festival presenter at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and as a latchkey teacher at Liberty Community Center in Delaware, Ohio.
She was an accomplished teacher because she had a genuine love for all people and truly believed there was value in every person regardless of age, gender, socioeconomics or the color of their skin. Her greatest legacy is that she taught both children and adults to always believe in themselves. Reading was her key to unlock the world for children and she was most proud of watching the lightbulb come on when she taught a child to read. She was an avid reader and book collector herself and she kept a Rolodex of all of the books she had read in her lifetime.
Her positive energy, unwavering Faith and genuine compassion for others helped her to overcome every hardship with grit and determination. She didn’t let her physical imitations stop her from giving to others and up to a few weeks before she died she was still sending cards out to people as part of her card ministry. She believed in giving back to her community and served as a member of the Sunbury Lions Club, the Big Walnut Seniors Club and various Methodist churches throughout Ohio, most recently the Galena United Methodist Church.
Lastly, and most importantly she unselfishly dedicated her life to her family, as a caregiver, role model, mentor and friend. She was happiest when she could host a big meal with all of her family gathered around the table. She is survived by her three children Rick Helwig of Sunbury, John (Louise) Helwig of Delaware and Beth (Tim) Carlson of Orwell. She deeply loved her three granddaughters, Katherine Carlson of Richmond, Virginia, Erica Carlson and Emily Carlson, both of Orwell, Ohio. Though she was an only child, Virginia was also very close to her first cousins who served as her surrogate siblings and she is survived by Max Griffith of Galena.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband and first cousins Allen “Bud” Shade, Barbara Shade Gooding, and Donna May Hale.
The family would like to thank the staff at Willowbrook Christian Village in Delaware, Ohio Health Hospice, Ohio Health Home Care and Sourcepoint, as well as her many doctors for their compassion, love and care for Virginia.
Because of her love of books, the family wishes in lieu of flowers that all memorials be made to the Big Walnut Community Library, 44 Burrer Drive Sunbury, Ohio 43074.
The DeVore-Snyder Funeral of Sunbury is honored to serve the Helwig family.
Private family services to be held due to the COVID-19 crisis.
To share a fond memory of Virginia or to offer a condolence to the family, please visit www.snyderfuneralhomes.com