Virginia Ruth Lathrope Brown

Virginia Ruth Lathrope Brown, age 88 years, formerly of Fredonia, WI, passed away Tuesday, August 16, 2022 in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

Virginia was born November 5, 1933 in Dodgeville, WI, the oldest child of Theodore Roosevelt and Ruth Elizabeth (Newbury) Lathrope. When she was a child, the family moved to Reedsburg, WI. With her sisters Margaret and Phyllis, she grew up in a small town environment where they enjoyed biking, sledding in the winter, checking out stacks of books at the library, participating in band, and Rainbow Girls. She made lifelong friends. In high school she competed and medaled in Rifle Club with her dad as the advisor. She spent a summer working as a “hired girl” for a farm family.

The child of teachers, she attended Stout Institute (now UW-Stout), graduated with a B.S. (1955) in Home Economics, and became a teacher. While at Stout, she made life-long friends (and met her future husband). For over 50 years, she participated in a letter-writing Round Robin group with Stout friends. Adding to letters and forwarding them on to the group via snail mail, they kept up with each others’ lives before the digital age. She taught high school for one year in Viroqua, WI and then married James L. Brown, a redhead from Chicago. Jim’s service in the Navy took them to Great Lakes Naval Base, where their daughter, Karen, was born, and to Pensacola, FL, where Jim served as a blimp pilot. Returning to IL their son, Warren, and daughter, Laura, were born. Their return to civilian life eventually brought them to Waukesha, WI.

Ginny was a full time mom, putting her Home Ec skills to good use as she raised her kids. She was involved in Boy and Girl Scouts. She began a 45 year involvement with AFS international student exchange which included being a host mom to students from Brasil, the Netherlands, Italy, and the US, as well as acting as Regional Coordinator, planning AFS Milwaukee Week for many years, and acting as a bus chaperone. She has influenced the lives of many students all over the world.

She taught Foods at WCTI (later WCTC), especially classes in how to use a brand new invention–the microwave oven. She also taught cooking to handicapped and senior citizens and contributed to multiple cookbooks.

She was an active member of Salem United Methodist Church in Waukesha, WI. She was a member of the Women’s Circles, and volunteered with Vacation Bible School and many other activities.

For 35 years, Ginny volunteered as a county and State Fair judge in clothing and food. She especially enjoyed interacting with the children who brought their items to be judged at the fair.

In the mid-70s Jim came home on a Yamaha 175 motorcycle and told Ginny she could learn to ride, or spend some weekends alone at home. She rose to the challenge, learned to ride and rode her Honda 450 with Jim on his Honda 750. She enjoyed remembering she rode her motorcycle to the “four corners of the country.” They rode to Key West, Vermont, Colorado, San Francisco, the Continental Divide and many destinations in between. She enjoyed peoples’ reaction when she pulled off her helmet and they “could see her gray hair!”

In 1987 Jim fulfilled a lifelong dream to own a business and bought a hardware store in Waubeka, WI. Overnight Ginny became his right-hand assistant and learned inventory, ordering and store management. She and Jim were involved with Waubeka Flag Day activities, and she was a member of the Lioness’ and a member of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ which is now Parkside United Church of Christ in Saukville, WI. She was very involved and served on Church Council for many years.

She and Jim were active grandparents, taking 2 or 3 grandkids at a time for Grandparent Time in the summer. Activities included trips to Wisconsin Dells, camping, and time helping at the hardware store. She was known for vacuuming away all the spiders in the bunk room in the basement, putting chocolates on grandchildren’s pillows, and keeping the candy dish stocked with lemon drops.

She loved her garden and loved to fill vases all summer with the flowers she grew. Jim groaned at frequent requests to “Stop the car!” so she could jump out and gather wildflowers. She was famous for her grape juice and jelly from her vines in the backyard. She enjoyed canning the bounty of the garden and shared the delicious results.

Ginny was the “bionic woman,” enduring surgeries too numerous to count and physical trials most of us could never cope with. She was the perfect patient–never complaining and always doing more than the doctors and PT people suggested. She met each trial with determination and the assumption that she would overcome it, and then did the work to make it so. Right now we rejoice that she is “walking and jumping, and praising God.” –Acts 3 :9

Preceeding her in death are her parents, Ted and Ruth Lathrope, her sister Margaret Harmeyer (2016), her son Warren Brown (2016), sister-in-law Pam Smith (2016), and her granddaughter Maria Schumacher (2002). After Warren’s death, his cat Fred became Ginny’s lap-warmer and comforter.

She is survived by Jim, her husband of 65 years, her sister Phyllis Lathrope, daughters Karen Schumacher, and Laura Brown. Grandchildren: Aaron (Erica Blom) Schumacher, Joanna Schumacher, Bethany Schumacher, Rachel Schumacher, Emma Schumacher, Yekaterina Schumacher, Noelle Schumacher, Antonina Schumacher; Lindsay Brandt; Gabriella Cabrera Brown. Great-granddaughters: Louisa Brandt; Quinn Schumacher; great-grandson expected in September. She is further survived by her brothers-in-law Frank (Bud) Harmeyer, Tom (and Fay) Brown, and Lavell Smith. Her nieces and nephews: Kathy Pittinger, Jeannie Patzner, Dan Harmeyer, Denise Schwahn, Kurt Schwahn, Josh Smith, and Rebecca Brown share many memories and will miss her. She is further survived by her AFS/add-on children: Fidel Blanco, Anne Robinson, and Katherine Jacobson.

Ginny loved by doing. Her constant desire was to share a smile with all, and lift others’ spirits. At the end of a recent conversation, someone commented, “I hope we’ll see some sunshine this afternoon.” Ginny replied, “ Or we’ll make our own!”  Her example of hard work, perseverance, and grace under fire will continue to inspire and touch us all.

Funeral Services will be held 1pm Saturday, August 20, 2022 at the Poole Funeral Home, 203 N. Wisconsin St.,  Port Washington, WI.  Visitation from 11am-1pm Saturday at the funeral home prior to the service.  Interment will be at Greenwood Cemetery in Reedsburg, WI.

Poole Funeral Home / Crematory, Port Washington, Wisconsin assisting the family. Information and condolences available at www.poolefh.com or 262-284-4431.

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4 Comments

  1. I have special memories of the wonderful person Ginny was. I knew her as a neighbor in the Town of Brookfield in Waukesha, Wisconsin, PTA at Hillcrest School, Girl Scouts and church. My daughter Lori and Karen are “forever friends”. My prayers and sympathy are surrounding Jim, Karen, and all your family. May God fill you with a liftime of loving memories.

  2. There are no words. Missing you and so grateful that you were always there for me. Whether it was a “real” crisis, or advice on how to fix a culinary disaster.

    Love, love, love!!

  3. Jim and Virginia were my neighbors when we moved to Fredonia. Ginny met us at the door with home made cookies when we arrived with the truck. She was almost family from then on. She helped me in so many ways over the years. From inconsolable crying babies to sewing. My kids pictures were always on her fridge. We will never forget her. Prayers to all the family

    Anne Marie Olson

  4. I remember Ginny as a very kind person. We attended St. Paul’s Community UCC in Waubeks, WI years back.

    Deepest sympathy on your loss. May God engulf you with His peace.

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