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Obituaries » Virginia A. Rhinesmith

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September 18, 1947 - July 17, 2021

A memorial service to celebrate Virginia’s life will be held on Monday, July 26, 2021 at 2:00 PM at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, 1200 Seminole Rd., Muskegon, MI 49441. Anyone wishing to contribute money in her honor may direct it towards the American Cancer Society or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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Virginia Ann (Fick) Rhinesmith was born on Sept. 18, 1947, to Dale and Mabel Fick. She had two older siblings, Sidney Fick and Kathryn Burleigh who proceeded her in death. Virginia passed away on July 17, 2021, after a valiant 3 1/2-year battle with breast cancer.


Virginia is survived by her husband, Brian Rhinesmith of 33 years; daughter, Elizabeth (Ryan Hyman) Fick; son, Benjamin (Courtney Rice) Rhinesmith; three grandchildren, Nathan Koppen, Kathryn Koppen and Vera Kate Hyman. Both children have fashioned good lives in Louisville, Kentucky and Los Angeles, California, respectively.


Virginia grew up in the small town of Benzonia, Michigan, where she played daily with her cousins who lived on the same street. Her family was never without a dog and her favorite was Tige. She is also survived by her beloved dog, Pugsley, who kept a vigil during her last few days.


In the 1970s, Virginia lived in Tucson, Arizona where Elizabeth was born. She always said it was her favorite place because she “belonged there”. Although she never explained, the warm winters and plentiful sun must have been attractive to her.


As a single mother, Virginia worked as a bookkeeper for a law firm in Muskegon. She graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan long before the advent of the personal computer. She loved children and volunteered for several years in a 2nd grade classroom at Roosevelt School in Muskegon Heights. The children in her class loved her and a couple that hugged her she nicknamed her “kling-ons”. They were probably aware of the tremendous effort it took to mount the two flights of stairs to get to their classroom.


Virginia led a simple and humble life. She was realistic about her life-long multiple sclerosis and later, the cancer, and never complained about her health problems. Virginia was well respected for her wise and dispassionate takes on the world as well as her dry and surprising (to new acquaintances) wit. She was down to earth and never pretended to be someone she was not. She loved attending a couple Tiger games in the old stadium. She was a trooper who even went on canoe and camping trips with Brian and family.


Virginia, and later Brian, raised their family at St Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Muskegon. They were married there on October 17, 1987. Both children were baptized and confirmed there. Like Ruth in the Bible, she followed Brian without complaint to Kalamazoo when he found a social work job there. Brian and Virginia met through their engagement with the Citizen’s Global Peace and Justice Group in Muskegon Heights. Prior to their marriage, Virginia enjoyed also being an active member of a writer’s group in Grand Haven.