In Memory of

Judith

Virnelli

Obituary for Judith Virnelli

VIRNELLI, Judith Cochrane Age 84. Judy died peacefully at home, August 18th. She was proudest of her role as a wife, mother and grandmother. She married Frank in 1961 and they became a team while she supported him through medical school. Her career as a respected high school English teacher was interrupted by a rule that is difficult to understand today. At that time, if it was obvious that a woman was pregnant she was not allowed to continue teaching. Before Frank completed his medical training they had three children, Frank, Jr., Suzanne, and David. The family also spent two years in Newfoundland on active duty in the Navy. There were difficult years raising three energetic children while moving frequently in order to complete a complicated program in plastic surgery that at times required 36-hour shifts with only 12 hours off before returning to work. It often was not possible for him to help at home. No mother worked harder to provide support and encouragement to her children. She was proud that all three became respected professionals. She was pleased to say that "they are all good people who like one another." Her relationship with her six grandchildren, Ashley Grevelink, Jopus Grevelink, Cole Grevelink, Katerina Virnelli, Emma Virnelli, and Julia Virnelli, was very close and very special. They all knew her as "Oma" since the oldest grandchildren were half Dutch and had had Dutch au-pairs. Two years ago Judy received an unusual and much appreciated recognition of the impact that she had made as a teacher. A former student sent her a copy of the book that he had written that was made up of tributes to those individuals who had had the greatest influence on his life. In his section on Judy, he stated that when he was a high school freshman interested only in sports, a young teacher encouraged him to make a selection from a long list that she had put together and for the first time in his life he enjoyed reading a book. He became a lifelong reader and went on to become a college coach and very popular teacher at UNH. He also was the mutual friend who arranged Judy and Frank's first date 60 years ago. Judy was the youngest of six children of Ruth and Merlin Cochrane and was raised in Saugus. She will be remembered for her remarkable number of close friends, some dating from elementary school. She valued her friendships and took the time to maintain them. She stayed in touch with many classmates from Saugus High School and the University of New Hampshire, where she was a proud member of the class of 1957. She was very active in alumni activities serving as vice president of her college class and president of the UNH Parents Association. The family moved to Winchester in 1971 where she became very active in many activities in school, church and community. She was very pleased to serve as president of the Winchester Garden Club and had a major role in developing the program with the Winchester Chamber of Commerce that supports the popular hanging flower baskets. She also served as a valuable assistant on a volunteer plastic surgery project in rural Ecuador. Lane Funeral Home of WINCHESTER will host a memorial website, where photos and comments can be reviewed or posted. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Winchester Unitarian Society.