NORWICH — A memorial service for Virginia Lee Close, 91, who died Nov. 1 at her home surrounded by her family and friends will be held Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 10:30 a.m. followed by private internment. Evening calling hours will be held at the Knight Funeral Home in White River Jct., on Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 5-7 p.m.
She as born Aug. 29, 1921 in Worcester, Mass., daughter of Thomas and Bertha Close.
Her father worked for New England Telephone, and was transferred to White River Junction in the 1920s. Growing up on Tafts Flat, she attended the Hartford schools, then the University of Vermont, where she earned a BA.
She pursued further education, earning a Master’s Degree in History at the University of Connecticut, and ultimately a Bachelor’s Degree in Library Science in 1951 from Simmons College. She started working at Dartmouth’s Baker Library in 1945, first in circulation, then in the reference department and eventually became the Head Reference Librarian. She loved her work, and considered herself extremely fortunate to have a career that was so fulfilling. By the time she retired in 1993, she had added the titles of bibliographer and editor of the Dartmouth College Library Bulletin to her list of accomplishments. In 1986, she was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree, presented by then-president David McLaughlin. This recognition was the other life accomplishment of which she was most proud.
In retirement she researched a variety of subjects with Dr. Richard Hoefnagel, a preeminent geneticist at Dartmouth Hitchcock medical center. Their culminating work was publication of a book titled Eleazar Wheelock and the Adventurous Founding of Dartmouth College. A lifelong interest in history led her to work with the Norwich and Vermont Historical Societies. In 2006, she received recognition from the Vermont Historical Society Achievement Awards Program as “a person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement and study of local history in our community.” Her most recent project was the preservation and conservation of some of Norwich’s oldest and most fragile town records through creation of digitized files.
Virginia was a familiar face at Norwich Selectboard, Planning Commission and Zoning Board meetings where her opinions, though not always popular, reflected her commitment to participative government at a community level. She was a longtime advocate for humane treatment of animals, a supporter of the rights of minorities and the disenfranchised, and multiple environmental and conservation causes. These she supported through years of philanthropy and numerous op-ed pieces in various local publications.
She is survived by her sister-in-law, Ardis Close residing at Valley Terrace in White River Junction; nieces, Elissa Close and husband Christopher Brady of Starksboro, and Ellen Close DesMeules and husband Peter and daughters, Emily and Hadley of North Pomfret; and a nephew, Stuart Close and his wife, Kristin and children, Greta and Bridger of Norwich.
Virginia was predeceased by a brother, Thompson in 1989.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Vermont and N.H., 66 Benning Street, West Lebanon, N.H. 03784. Condolences may be expressed to Virginia’s family in an online guestbook at www.knightfuneralhome.com
This obituary first appeared in the November 8, 2012 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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