Virginia Galvin Crouse, noted philanthropist of the arts and faith community in Ohio and Michigan, died at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, at her residence surrounded by her family leaving a legacy defined by love of family, music and the arts.
She was born July 3, 1919, and raised in Lima. Virginia was the daughter of John E. and Florence F. Galvin. Virginia's grade school years were enhanced by an education that included Ohio, Washington, D.C., and La Jolla, Calif. At an age when few women were able to pursue a higher education, Virginia graduated with a degree from Ogantz College in Philadelphia. Her father, John Galvin, was a well-known industrialist and a confidant to numerous congressional leaders and U.S. presidents. Virginia's love of music was nurtured early in her life, in part by interaction with her mother's first cousin, composer and songwriter Cole Porter. Her childhood friends included comedian Phyllis Diller. Diller went on to acclaim as one of America's first female comics, and their lifelong friendship was signified by Virginia's sharp wit and easy laugh.
An athlete and top tennis player in her teens, Virginia lived an active life that included weekly games of tennis and golf well into her 80s. "If you sit down you rust!" was a favorite saying, a life lesson not lost on her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild. In every way, Virginia lived what she preached, and while she leaves her earthly life with muscle and bone tired by a life well lived, there's no rust to be found.
In the early 1940s, Virginia met a young account executive from Pittsburgh who worked at Westinghouse in Lima. John L. "Jack" Crouse changed her life and the couple wed on October 22, 1943. In the Air Force at the time, Jack was stationed in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the two enjoyed a honeymoon getaway on the beach. After the war, Jack and Virginia moved to Lima where Jack began a lifelong career working for Virginia's father, John Galvin. He would eventually become the president of Ohio Steel Foundry, a landmark in Ohio long before its sale to Teledyne in 1968. The couple raised four children in Lima, all of whom continue to make a positive impact with their work and family life in Ohio, Michigan, California and Florida. During the short span of eight years, Virginia lost both parents, her only brother, Bob, and her beloved husband, Jack. Blessed with a strong moral compass and deep faith, Virginia devoted herself to her family and her church, but after Jack's death from cancer, she began a new and significant chapter in her life. Virginia, who always had been civic minded, became actively involved in the communities of Lima and Bay View, Mich., and established herself as a highly regarded philanthropist and patron of the arts.
Her most significant support in Lima was focused on the creation of the Lima Civic and Convention Center. Her leadership and financial donations made it possible for individuals, corporations and local government to see the vital need for a professional performing arts and convention center in downtown Lima. In 1984 the Civic Center complex was opened. In appreciation of her gift and leadership, the 1, 800 seat performance hall was named Crouse Performance Hall. Virginia's support of the Crouse Performance Hall continued over the years in an effort to assure its position among the top performance venues in the country.
A life long passion for music and a charitable heart led to decades of support for the Lima Symphony. She was also involved with several notable nonprofit enterprises in Lima including the Bradfield Center, the YWCA, YMCA and the United Way. Virginia was the first woman in Lima to be a member of the United Way's Alexis De Tocqueville Society which, in 2012, renamed their endowment the Virginia and Jack Crouse Community Fund. Virginia's philanthropic efforts in Lima continued well into her 90s as she helped spearhead the build out of the City Club, a meeting facility connected to the Convention Center in Lima. Virginia contributed financially and lent her eye and classic taste to the interior décor.
In addition to her home in Lima, Virginia spent every summer in the lake country of northern Michigan where she focused her philanthropic efforts on Bay View, Mich., a chataquwa community on the banks of Lake Michigan. The Galvin and Crouse family tradition of enjoying summers in Bay View was begun by Virginia's grandparents in 1895, and continues to this day. During the summer of 2012, Virginia could still be seen with a smile on her face as she boated with relatives on Walloon Lake or enjoyed an ice cream cone in downtown Petoskey.
In Bay View, Virginia was one of the prime visionaries for providing the financial support for the renovation of the historic buildings on the Bay View campus. The landmark renovation included the grocery store and craft house into the Bay View campus chapel. The chapel was completed in 1993 and in appreciation of her leadership and financial support, the Bay View Board of Directors named the chapel the Virginia Crouse Memorial Chapel. She has also provided funds to restore several of the historic Victorian styled buildings. With the goal of enhancing the visitor experience of Bay View, Virginia also endowed the Crouse Visiting Artists Series, which makes it possible for Bay View to bring top-name ensembles to Bay View each summer.
As in Lima, Virginia's charitable giving stretched beyond Bay View to support of the C.S. Lewis Festival and the McLaren Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, where they named their surgical waiting room after Virginia. She was an early supporter of Crooked Tree Arts Center and was responsible for having the arts center painted with a Victorian accent. In 1990, Crooked Tree Arts Center honored her for this contribution.
Virginia led an inspirational life defined by family, faith and music. She was a life long member of Market Street Presbyterian Church in Lima where she was an elder and sang in the choir for many years both in Lima and Bay View. She was also a member of Shawnee Country Club, the Wilderness Country Club in Naples, Fla., and the Walloon Lake Country Club in northern Michigan.
Virginia Galvin Crouse is survived by her loving children including Karen and Ron Miller, of Lima, Jay and Laura Crouse, of Sarasota, Fla., Linda and Rick Dicker, of San Diego, and David and Teresa Crouse, of Petoskey, Mich. Nine grandchildren continue to embody her active and buoyant spirit including Megan and Travis Rockey, Troy and Chrisy Wright, John Crouse, Philip Crouse, Edward Crouse, William Crouse, Arianna Dicker, William Rutledge and Alexandra Crouse; and a great-grandchild, Jackson Rockey, is among those who will carry her great legacy far into the future.
Her extended family includes Sherri and Don Fischer family, Deb and Ron Fischer family, and Jason and Joanne Miller family.
To all of Virginia's friends, thank you for your enduring love. She valued friendship, a chat on the phone, a game of bridge, or dinner out. Thank you to Virginia's exceptional, warm and loving caregivers over the last year, especially, Colleen Salisx. You are all family to us and we love you.
The family recommends that in lieu of flowers that donations be made to Lima Civic Center Foundation, http://www.limaciviccenter.com/foundation.html, or the Bay View Association, www.bayviewassociation.org, please specify "Crouse Visiting Artists" fund.
Funeral Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, at Market Street Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Dr. Richard Sheffield officiating. Burial was held in Woodlawn Cemetery, Lima. Friends may call from 2 until 8 p.m., Sunday, September 9, 2012, at Chiles-Laman Funeral & Cremation Services, Shawnee Chapel and one hour prior to services Monday at the church. The family requests that you wear bright colors to the funeral.
Condolences may be expressed at http://chiles-lamanfh.com.
Read Virginia Crouse's Obituary and Guestbook on chiles-lamanfh.com.