Virginia de Ganahl Russell Dies in Florida at Age 87

Category: Obituaries
Created on Wednesday, 29 August 2018 16:36
Published on Wednesday, 29 August 2018 16:36
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Sarah Virginia de Ganahl Russell was born in New York City, New York, April 2, 1931, and died in Vero Beach, Florida, August 16, 2018.
She was the daughter of Joe and Josephine (Coombs) de Ganahl. She grew up in Scarsdale, New York, McLean, Virginia, and both Sitka and Juneau, where her father was a U.S. Navy Reserve pilot and Sitka Naval Air Station commander before and during World War II.

Sarah Virginia de Ganahl Russell


Lt. Cmdr. de Ganahl was killed along with five others in a crash near Sitka on June 21, 1943. He was age 40.
Virginia attended the Sidwell Friends School, the Madeira School, Mount Vernon Junior College, and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she met her first husband, Thomas Hale Russell. They married on June 21, 1952, and had seven children. In 1954, they moved to Yampa, Colorado, where they raised cattle with her brother Chuck and his wife Pat, and enjoyed 11 years ranching and raising children together.
In 1965 the Russells moved to Brandon, Vermont. Virginia was active in the community, supporting the American Cancer Society,  Otter Valley School Board, Brandon Public Library and Green Mountain College.
In 2016, Virginia received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Sterling College.
Virginia gained her sense of adventure from her parents; her father traveled with Admiral Byrd to both the Arctic and Antarctic, and her mother was one of the first women to earn a pilot’s license. This adventurous spirit led Virginia to travel the world. After Tom’s death, she traveled to China, where she met her second husband, Charles Kimmel, on the Orient Express.
She valued intellectual pursuits and her shelves were filled with books on literature, history, science and poetry.
She loved to meet new people and had a singular knack for turning strangers into immediate friends.
Her love for others drew her to service in many causes and organizations.
A long-time fundraiser, she supported the Vermont Symphony Orchestra,  was president of the Dvorak International Federation, and founded Classic Concepts, later Natural Elegance.
As chair of the Board of Sterling College in Vermont in the early 1990s, she made tough decisions that are credited with setting the organization on a stronger footing. She supported Vermont Democratic candidates, hosting fundraising parties.
In 2003, Virginia moved to Vero Beach, Florida, with her second husband, Charles Kimmel, where she continued her passion for engaging with people through continuing education and the arts.
Virginia was predeceased by her first husband, Thomas Hale Russell, and her brother Charles de Ganahl. She is survived by her husband, Charles Kimmel, of Vero Beach. She leaves seven children and their spouses and partners: George Lucius Russell II and wife Judith Russell, of Burlington, Vermont; Sarah Hall Russell and husband Rodney Lowe, of Burlington; Edward Sargent Russell and wife Margaret Borogen Russell, of Byfield, Massachusetts; Josephine Coombs Russell Mayo and husband Thomas Mayo, of Desert Hot Springs, California; Charles de Ganahl Russell and wife Julia Russell, of Charlotte, Vermont; Michael Thomas Russell and wife Margaret Canning Russell, of Charlotte; and Kenneth Greenleaf Russell and partner Rhonda Prensky, Montpelier, Vermont.
Twelve grandchildren, Christopher, Patrick, Elizabeth, Bethany, Grady, Frances, Sarah, Ruby, Katharine, Amanda, Michael, and Thomas; two step-grandchildren, Ethan and Nellie; and great-granddaughter, Sarah, also survive.
Donations may be made in Virginia’s name to the ALS Association, Washington, D.C., or to Sterling College, Craftsbury Common, Vermont.