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Virginia L. Tracey

Virginia Tracey gave of herself until end

Virginia Tracey gave of herself until end

November 03, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Virginia L. Tracey, who died Oct. 17 at the age of 63. Her obituary was published in the Oct. 28 edition of The Herald-Mail.

For the past 11 years, Virginia Tracey and ovarian cancer were constant, if uneasy, companions.

That's not to say the disease was the boss.

To the end, Virginia continued to fight, live her life fully and contribute mightily to others, sometimes despite her disease, but often because of it.

A registered nurse for many years, Virginia probably knew better than most how aggressive her particular form of cancer can be.

As her younger daughter, Kelly Tracey, pointed out, the disease also was sneaky, fading for a time only to reassert itself again and again.

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Still, Virginia combined her positive treatment experiences at the John R. Marsh Cancer Center with her nursing expertise to help others battling cancers.

A holiday tree-trimming party last December netted the center $3,000. The event was sponsored by the Bailey Institute, a national philanthropic organization that Virginia introduced to the area.

In early 2007, when institute founder Dr. Jennifer Bailey began looking for a Hagerstown beneficiary with goals that complement the institute's mission to reach the underserved, her friend Virginia suggested the John R. Marsh Cancer Center.

"Jennifer is going to read Mom's eulogy at the memorial service Monday," Kelly said, emphasizing the bond that grew over time between the two women.

Virginia raised two daughters while working more than 20 years as a registered nurse at Washington County Hospital in the operating and emergency rooms.

She started a pain management clinic at Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospital and was a nursing volunteer at the Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown.

Virginia also managed to also give of herself to her church - St. Ann Catholic - the Hagerstown YMCA and Hagerstown Community College.

"She was a busy lady," Kelly said. "My sister and I are the same way now."

Nonetheless, Virginia managed to support her daughters in their activities when they were growing up. As recently as August, Virginia watched Kelly show her horse at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

Virginia was equally wrapped up in her two grandsons' lives. Contacted by telephone at her California home, Virginia's oldest daughter, Stacey Tosadori, said her mother loved being a grandmother.

"She would baby-sit them, go to their games and we'd all go to Mom's for dinners," Stacey said of the times before she and her sons moved to California two years ago.

There is a big rocking chair in Virginia's kitchen and Stacey said her sons, Ryan and Matthew, loved to pile into their grandmother's lap in that chair.

Since the move two years ago, Stacey has come east with her family a number of times and Virginia traveled to the West Coast to visit.

"My older son, Ryan, is 16 now and is very interested in history," Stacey said. A love he learned from and shared with his grandmother, Ryan still talks about the time he joined his grandmother at a Civil War re-enactment camp in the period outfit she made for him.

Five years ago, Virginia took a "girl" trip to Hawaii with her two daughters.

"It was the first time we'd been together - just the three of us - since we were kids," Kelly said.

Those and many other memories will be treasured by Virginia's family. And Virginia's colleagues and friends have remembrances to cherish of her caring and hard work for causes about which she felt strongly.

A good cook who was known for her matchless red velvet cake, Virginia always was prepared to help anyone who wanted to improve their culinary skills.

"She always shared her knowledge of cooking and anything else," Stacey said.

Kelly said she plans to attend this year's tree-trimming event at the cancer center in her mother's honor.

Meanwhile, Stacey will be coping with the loss of her mother from her home 3,000 miles away.

"Even from California, I'd call her every morning and every evening," Stacey said. "I'm going to miss that."

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