Virginia Sleeper Thompson, born in Binghamton, New York, December 8, 1929, passed away on April 6, 2022 in Surprise, Arizona. She was the daughter of Mildred and George Sleeper, long-time residents of Sherburne. The eldest of four, she grew up on Union Street and at The Sherburne Inn. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Elizabeth Sleeper Kendall, her brother George Sleeper, Jr. and sister-in law, Marge Sleeper.
Virginia attended elementary and secondary school in Sherburne and was a 1947 graduate of Sherburne High School. While in high school she was active in band and student theater.
She graduated from Oneonta State Teachers College with a degree in teaching and returned to Sherburne to start her teaching career in 1957. She taught kindergarten for the Sherburne school district, first in the basement of the Episcopal Church, then in the Methodist Church, followed by the “new elementary school” and also in Smyrna. Virginia spent several summers at the North Norwich school building teaching the children of migrant farm workers.
Over her 45-year career, it is estimated that she taught a thousand students, and was on her third generation of students when she retired. As a teacher, she was patient, caring and nurturing, always recognizing the unique qualities and gifts in each of her students. She was an accomplished pianist and loved playing the piano in her classroom, often standing at the piano to play while children marched around the room playing instruments and singing.
There are many stories she shared over the years, too many to mention. A favorite is when one of her students found a snake on the playground and brought it back into the classroom. Virginia quickly took the snake, opened the window and sent it back outside. No distractions, even a snake, would not stand in the way of the day’s activities.
In 2002, she made the difficult decision to leave Sherburne and move to Arizona to be closer to family members. She was an avid reader of the “Sherburne News” waiting weekly for it to show up in her mailbox. Hanging on the front porch of her home in Arizona is a sign that says “Sherburne.” Although she no longer lived there, Sherburne was always known as her home.
She was a member of the United Church of Christ, faithfully attending services while living in Sherburne.
Virginia is survived by her sister Mary Sleeper Record and brother-in-law Jerry Record, Rochester, New York; brother-in-law Richard Kendall, Ontario, Canada; son Gordon Thompson, Phoenix, Arizona; daughter Mary Thompson Grassi and husband Robert Grassi, New York, New York; daughter Jane Thompson and husband David Downes, Flagstaff, Arizona; step-granddaughter Debbie Downes and husband Eric Langevin and their children, Roam and Finn, Slovakia; step-granddaughter Tami Downs, Oakland, California; and nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Sherburne Public Library honoring her lifelong commitment to education and a love of children’s books. Sherburne Public Library, 2 E State Street, Sherburne, New York 13460.
Friends are invited to call at the Burgess & Tedesco Funeral Home, 10 S. Main St., Sherburne on May 14, 2022 from 10am to 12pm. Interment will be private in West Hill Cemetery, Sherburne.
To send a condolence online go to www.burgessandtedescofuneralhomes.com