1932 - 2019

Virginia Ann Brenneman Ryan, 86, passed away Feb. 18, 2019, at Huron Woods Memory Care in Ypsilanti, Mich.  Virginia’s memorial service will be held Sunday, March 17, at Hosmer-Muehlig Funeral Chapel, 3410 Broad St. in Dexter, Mich. A graveside service will take place at East Union Church, Kalona, Iowa this summer, Saturday, Aug. 3.  It was Ginny’s wish that memorial contributions be made to the Mennonite Museum Archives at P.O. Box 576, Kalona, IA 52247.

Virginia was born May 21, 1932, in Joetown, Iowa, the daughter of Henry and Minnie (Knepp) Brenneman. She attended Brush No. 8 country school.  She graduated from Iowa Mennonite School in 1950 and went on to attend Goshen College in Goshen, Ind., where she received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She met her husband, Richard, while at Goshen.  Shortly after graduation in 1957, they relocated to the Ann Arbor area, settling in the “hills of Pinckney,” surrounded by lakes.  

Virginia began her teaching career in several elementary schools in the Ann Arbor school system.  To support her wish to work with children with special needs, she enrolled in and completed the special education master’s degree program at the University of Michigan.  With her advanced degree in hand, she began a new phase of her career at Huron High School in Ann Arbor.  After 30 years of service devoted to Ann Arbor elementary and high school children, she retired.

Virginia, known as “VA” by her Iowa family and “Ginny” by everyone else, was an avid bird watcher, piano student, industrious beekeeper, and lover of the outdoors.  She enjoyed hiking and camping trips with family and friends.  Upon her retirement, Ginny volunteered for the Dexter Pioneer Craft Fair, serving as its chairperson for several years. She was also an outdoor specialist at the Amigo Center, and she delivered Meals on Wheels, accompanied by her cheerful smile and kind, gentle way.  

Ginny was a very special person.  She attended church throughout her life, but also truly lived her great faith from her Mennonite upbringing in her daily life. It permeated her relationships with family, friends, and strangers. She was extremely generous, never had anything but kind words for everyone and she shared many life-enriching insights and words of encouragement with all.  She is and will continue to be greatly missed.  

Ginny was the loving wife of the late Richard C. Ryan, the beloved mother of Carl (Linda) Ryan, and cherished grandmother of Rebecca and Catherine.  Ginny is survived by her dear sisters: Ada Fisher and Lois Gugel both of Kalona; her beloved brothers: Wally (Millie) Brenneman of Kalona and Jim (Eunice) Brenneman of Colorado; as well as by many extended family members and friends.  

She was preceded in death by her parents; beloved sisters: Blanche and Irene Brenneman; and her beloved brothers: Dan (Rose) Brenneman, and Dave (Betty) Brenneman; brothers-in-law: Louis Gugel and Owen Swartzendruber; and sister-in-law: Marlene Brenneman.

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