In Memoriam

Virginia S. Sutherland Davis '69
A dancer, she was always fully alive and radiant

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She was nicknamed "Ginger" because her mother loved the dance team Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. It was perfect, says her friend Dorie Biondo Sterndale '72, '78G. "Ginger was spicy, lively and full of zest."

Virginia S. Sutherland Davis '69 also had her namesake's passion for dance. She began ballet lessons at age 3, assisted at a dance studio while in high school in Peterborough, N.H., and studied classical ballet throughout her life. When they danced together as UNH freshmen, says her husband, Steven Davis '69, "her feet never touched the ground."

After graduation, Davis worked as a social worker in New Hampshire before she moved with Steve to Albuquerque, N.M., where she helped establish a magnet school and volunteered with the Red Cross while raising their family. When they returned to New Hampshire in 1985, Ginger became a special education assistant at Londonderry High for 19 years.

She amazed family and friends with her prodigious memory, a talent Steve credits to her sincere interest in people. "She remembered every one of my appointments, tests, and major or minor events," says her son, Scott.

Davis loved the outdoors and spent many happy vacations at their cabin, "Trailmix," in the White Mountains. Following her diagnosis with ovarian cancer, Davis spent as much time outside as possible, kayaking, skiing and hiking, and took part in National Ovarian Cancer Coalition walks to raise funds for medical research.

She never lost her sense of humor, says her friend Lorraine Lordi, who recalls meeting Davis for lunch when both women were facing serious health challenges. "Ginger asked, 'Do you ever wonder why we are dealing with these things?'" Lordi mused that perhaps they had been too well-behaved. Davis proposed the next time they met, they should drink cheap wine and smoke.

Even as she battled her illness, she found the energy to chase her grandson around and read to her granddaughter, says her daughter, Janet Damaske. She was "fully alive and radiant," says Damaske, right up to her death last May.

A devoted UNH hockey fan, Davis was delighted to receive a UNH hockey jersey signed by the team and a surprise visit from coach Dick Umile '72. The Interfaith Choir of Derry put on a private performance in her hospice house room. Steve says his unassuming wife wondered out loud what all the fuss was about.

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