Sunday, November 9, 2003

Virginia Curry, fan of British history, was knighted by queen

Her Hyde Park library was memorable

By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Virginia Thornton Curry spent most of her life in Cincinnati's Hyde Park, but she would have been just as at home in the Hyde Park across the Atlantic Ocean.

A longtime member of the Cincinnati branch of the English-Speaking Union, Ms. Curry had an affinity for British history.

Because of her work for the English-Speaking Union, Queen Elizabeth II knighted her and her sister, Emilie Thornton Curry, in 1988.

Ms. Curry died Thursday at her Hyde Park home after a short illness. She was 93.

When she turned 90, she wrote and published her memoirs and presented signed copies to the 90 friends who attended her birthday party.

"She was an unbelievable reader and writer. Her home library must have contained 1,200 volumes, and she read all of them. People are going to remember being in that library, around all those books, " said her longtime friend, Dr. Sally Helton of East Walnut Hills, whom Ms. Curry referred to as her "daughter the doctor."

"She used to say, 'When someone dies, it's like a library burning,' " said Dr. Helton.

Born and raised in East Walnut Hills and Hyde Park, Ms. Curry graduated from St. Ursula Academy before continuing her education at the University of Cincinnati, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree.

After college, she spent many years caring for her grandmother, and later her mother.

Ms. Curry served as president of the Ohio division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She was also a member of the Fenwick Society of the Athenaeum of Ohio and the Founders Society of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

She was a member of the Catholic Visitation Society and the Hyde Park Golf and Country Club.

Ms. Curry and her sister, Emilie, endowed the piano chair in their uncle James P. Thornton's name for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

She also donated to St. Ursula Convent, Little Sisters of the Poor, the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the Athenaeum.

She is the godmother of two children, Elizabeth and William Curry Helton of East Walnut Hills.

Her sister, Emilie, died in 1996.

Visitation will be from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday , at Gilligan Funeral Home, 2926 Woodburn Ave., Walnut Hills.

Mass of Christian burial will be at 1 p.m. Monday , at St. Rose Church, 2501 Eastern Ave., East End. Burial will be in St. Joseph New Cemetery, Price Hill.

Memorials may be made to St. Ursula Convent, 1339 East McMillan Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206, or to Little Sisters of the Poor, 476 Riddle Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45220.


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