Virginia S Thompson Tempe, Arizona Obituary

Virginia S Thompson passed peacefully on July 24, 2021, at home with daughter Sharon Miller and daughter-in-law Joyce Thompson by her side. She was born on July 18, 1919, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Michael and Louise Occhiuzzi Santoro.  Virginia graduated from Greensburg High School in 1937 and before graduation was hired by owner Joe Laufe as a bookkeeper at Thomas Drug Store in Greensburg.   On April 7, 1942, Virginia and Murrell Robert Thompson, Sr. were married at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensburg by Father Nicola Albanese. Together they operated the Triangle Diner and Gulf gas station at the intersection of 982 and Route 30 in Derry Township from 1946 to 1959.  In 1959 she and Murrell moved with their children Sharon and Bob to Tempe, Arizona.  She was a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church where she was a sodality prefect, member of the parish council, and a Eucharistic Minister.  In April 1996 Virginia received the Pax Christi award for the Tempe-Chandler Region X by the Phoenix Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (PDCCW).  From 1961 to 1968 Virginia was employed as a senior bookkeeper at O’Malley Builders Hardware in Phoenix. In 1968 she was hired as Tempe City Clerk.   

Virginia joined the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) in 1969 and served as the chairman of the State Membership Committee, chairman of the Constitution Committee, co-chairman of the Microfilm Committee, and a member of the Education Committee.  In 1973 she received the designation of Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC), the International Institute of Municipal Clerks Professional Certification award granted for an outstanding experience, education, and professional participation.  In June 1978 she was elected to the Board of Directors of the IIMC at its 32nd Annual Conference held in New York City.  Virginia was a member of the Tempe Charter chapter of the American Business Women’s Association serving as secretary and vice president and was Woman of the Year in 1973.  Virginia was a member of the Zonta Club of Tempe and served as treasurer, second vice-president, first vice-president, and president, chairman of the Zonta Club of Tempe’s Z Club at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, received their Woman of Achievement Award, and attended the 48th convention of Zonta International in Toronto, Canada.  As Tempe Zonta Club president, Virginia was a member of a sister city delegation that visited Lower Hutt, New Zealand in March 1987.  While there she went white water rafting even though she did not know how to swim. 

Virginia was a charter member of Tempe Sister City Corporation traveling to several of their sister cities. She served as secretary and official historian, received their Friendship Award, was a member of the Hackett House Guild and Executive Committee, volunteer business manager at Hackett House, published the Hackett House Volunteer Procedures Manual, helped establish downtown walking tours and multicultural programs for children. In 1997 she was inducted into the Sister City Ring of Honor at Kiwanis Park in Tempe.  Virginia was a member of the Arizona City Clerk Association and was elected present in 1974. She was instrumental in establishing the first annual Government Career Development Institute aimed at helping public service professionals keep up to date with the social, political, and economic changes affecting their work.  In 1989 she received the Arizona Municipal Clerks Association Award of Excellence. Virginia received her Municipal Clerk Certification from Syracuse University in New York. Virginia was a member of the Association of Records Managers and Administrators. She spearheaded a new nationally recognized records management program for the City of Tempe.  As Tempe City Clerk she wrote the City of Tempe Records Management Manual, created a City of Tempe Legislative History Software program, published the City of Sedona Records Management Manual and the City of Chino Valley Records Management Program, and established the Datavote Election System in Tempe.  In May 1984, while Virginia was attending the International Institute of Municipal Clerks Conference in San Diego, California with Chandler City Clerk Carolyn Dunn, she used the Heimlich maneuver when Carolyn choked on a fishbone.  

Virginia received several honors during her career as Tempe City Clerk: Tempe All-America woman, Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital Auxiliary Woman of Distinction, Tempe South Rotary Club’s Howard Pyle Vocational Service Award, and Bob Finch Post Veterans of Foreign Wars in recognition of her fairness and administrative ability.  Virginia retired as city clerk on January 13, 1989, and was honored with a retirement party given by her Sister City friends at Shalimar County Club.  Over the years Virginia was involved with many community affiliations: member of the advisory board of the Tempe Salvation Army; and executive board of Tempe District Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts; board of directors of the Tempe Branch of the American Red Cross; founding member and board member of Tempe Arts Center; member of the East Valley Catholic School Service Board; president of Tempe Meals on Wheels; a member of Governor’s East Valley Legislative Committee on Aging; member of the Tempe Historical Museum Advisory Board; and initiated the annual Friendly Forum Fund-Raising Luncheon at Petersen house in Tempe.  In 1999, Virginia returned to Greensburg, Pennsylvania to live with her daughter Sharon and son-in-law Larry Miller. Virginia traveled to Ireland on September 11, 2001, passing through Boston just as the 9/11 attacks were beginning in the United States.  Virginia was predeceased by her parents, husband Murrell, son Bob, son-in-law Larry Miller; siblings Helen Nitka, Richard Santoro, Grace Poteste, Fran Kichty, Patricia James, and Larry Santoro.

She is survived by her daughter Sharon Miller of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, daughter-in-law Joyce Thompson of Tempe, Arizona, grandson Jason Thompson and his wife Lauren Richter of Chandler, Arizona; and great-grandsons Theodore, Sebastian, and Elias Thompson, of Chandler, Arizona; sister-in-law Joan Santoro of Scottsdale, Arizona; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.  A visitation will be held on Monday, August 2, 2021, from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, with a Recitation of the Holy Rosary at 5:30 PM, at Richardson Funeral Home, 2621 South Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona.  Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, at 10:30 AM at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 2121 South Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona.  Interment will immediately follow the funeral mass at St Francis Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona.    In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Bethlehem Project, 300 N. Main Street, Greensburg, PA 15601.  Richardson Funeral Home, Tempe, Arizona is compassionately serving the Thompson family.

Credit to the Tribute Archive