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Obituary of Virginia "Ginny" May Willetts
Virginia (Ginny) May Willetts of Ivoryton and Milford Connecticut passed away at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London on December 2, 2021, at the age of 74. She was born on June 24, 1947, in Waterbury Connecticut to the late William Willetts and Jane (Williams) Willetts Sheehan. Ginny grew up in Cheshire graduating from Cheshire High School in 1965. She went on to attend Ithaca College, playing Field Hockey, Basketball, Softball and Lacrosse in its inaugural years for women. She was a trailblazer in advocating for women in sports. She graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. Ginny spent nearly her entire teaching career in the Oxford School System beginning as a Physical Education Teacher at Great Oak Middle School, later adding Computer Classes. In addition to teaching, Ginny’s passion for children and ability to recognize talent in athletics drew her to coach a multitude of teams, most notably Track and Field and Girls Basketball. When Ginny began coaching, it was the job of each coach to call the coach of other area schools and arrange games which was difficult and inefficient. As was so often the case, Ginny noticed a problem, and worked to solve it. She was integral in coordinating efforts across teams and in establishing the role of Athletic Director, which she held for many years. A natural leader, with an ability to connect, and remain composed in all situations, Ginny was selected as interim vice principal when the position was vacant. In her “spare time” Ginny also served as Advisor to the Yearbook. She remained close to her colleagues Ellen Cesaroni, Lori Hurst-Farrell, and Karen Giannamore even after her retirement. Post college, outside of her teaching and coaching responsibilities, friends and family, Ginny remained active, pitching in a Women’s Slow Pitch Softball League. An excellent golfer with a 16 handicap, she spent many Saturday mornings playing with Diana in a Women’s Golf League, or golfing with other family and friends. She was a starter at Grassy Hill Country Club in Orange, Connecticut. As she grew older, she loved going to the casino, playing cards, and putting together puzzles. While Ginny’s childhood home was in Cheshire, she grew up spending her summers at her family’s beach house in Milford making lifelong friendships that continue today. That house became her home not long after she graduated college. She spent many hours on or in the water, sailing, swimming, kayaking or taking trips on her boat to Long Island. She drew energy and peace, sitting on the deck reading romance novels, drinking ice water from her Ranger’s Tervis cup and watching family and friends play in the waves, dig in the sand or share meals and beverages on the deck. She loved the Fourth of July, when so many of her family and friends invaded the beach house and watched fireworks over the water. She was happiest quietly watching and being surrounded by the people she loved. In 2001, at a barbeque at a friend’s house, set up on a blind date, Ginny met Diana, the woman she would spend the rest of her life with and build a family. When they introduced each other to their families and friends you could see and feel the love that they shared. They were united in a Civil Union on October 19th, 2007, and later married when it was allowed by law. In 2004, Diana gave birth to their son Kevin, followed by Cayden in 2006. Ginny was nervous but so excited to take on the adventure of motherhood and embraced everything about it. Her face glowed with pride and joy from the moment those children were born as she and Diana raised them together. When she retired from teaching and coaching middle school, she seamlessly transitioned into coaching her children’s teams in soccer, basketball, baseball and softball and joined the Park and Rec Commission in Essex. As Kevin began to play in travel sports and Cayden branched off to do plays and other activities, she took her place in her chair and proudly watched and supported anything they did. She took her role to the next level becoming MOM - Mobile Operations Manager, driving the Ginny Van, coordinating games, holidays, school schedules, shopping and keeping everyone on track. It was a role she owned, her own quiet way. A huge sports enthusiast, Ginny (and family, some willingly, some not) could be found in front of the TV rooting for the New York Rangers, Yankees and Giants, Notre Dame Football, and UConn Women’s Basketball. Special family memories include trips to Yankee Stadium, UConn games at Gampel Pavilion and in Hartford, a trip to the Women’s Final Four in Columbus Ohio, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, as well as non-sports related trips to Mexico, Florida, South Carolina, and a cruise to Alaska. No one will forget Ginny’s love for her family, her clever wit, dry sense of humor and how she welcomed everyone to her home as family, which also meant, help yourself and don’t leave a mess. It also meant for those who know, you were subject to the Tom Sawyer Effect, (oh, by the way, can you dig a hole for the fence post, or check the light switch in the bathroom, or plant the garden by the driveway). We will all miss her presence and carry a piece of her in our hearts and thoughts always. Ginny is survived by her immediate family: wife Diana Johnson, son Kevin and daughter Cayden, as well as her cats Sweetie and Blackberry. She is also survived by her brother William “Tommy” (Lynda) Willetts of East Longmeadow, brothers in law, Kenneth (Kim) Johnson of Old Saybrook, and Stephen (Toni) Johnson of Bozrah, very special friends Brian and Kathy Fell, Fran Higgins, MaryEllen Ashelford and much loved nieces and nephews that she adored spending time with at the beach, Jeffrey (Jill) Sutherland of Cheshire, Donald (Lisa) Sutherland of Guilford, Cara (Jake) Garcia of Bethany, Dillon (Madeline) Johnson and Christianna Johnson of Bozrah, Matthew, Cassie and Robert Johnson of Old Saybrook, as well as six great nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her sister Susan (Willetts) Sutherland, her brother-in-law Craig Sutherland and special friend Judith Leire. In lieu of services, the family will hold an open house from 1-4 on Saturday, December 11th at their home at 2 Rachel Lane, Ivoryton. Given the rise in the Covid Positivity Rate, we respectfully ask that if you are not fully vaccinated that you call or text your well wishes. If you feel you may have been exposed or are at risk, please follow CDC guidelines to protect the health of all we love and care about. In lieu of flowers there will be a contributory basket at their house for an organization whose mission is to provide sports equipment for children in financial need. To share a memory of Ginny or send a condolence to her family please visit www.rwwfh.com Arrangements are in the care of the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home in Centerbrook.