of Chelsea, MI, formerly of Roanoke, MO, Chicago, IL, Monroe, MI
Age 95, died Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at Chelsea Retirement Community. Born December 15, 1916, she was the daughter of Asa Milton and Martha (Green) Craig.
Graduating from high school in Armstrong, MO, Virnelle received an B.A. degree from Central Methodist College in Fayette, MO in 1939. That summer, she attended Scarritt College in Nashville, TN on a scholarship, and then worked for four years in Missouri Public Schools. In 1946, she received a M.A. degree from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, St. Louis, MO.
Her early career as a social worker included serving on the Social Service Commission in St. Louis, MO, working as a medical social worker and professor in the Illinois University College of Medicine, and as a field instructor in the University of Chicago Social Service Administration. While in Chicago, she met and married Dr. Fred A. Voss in 1951. They moved to Monroe, MI, and lived there until his death in 1977.
While residing in Monroe, MI, Virnelle served as a member of the Monroe Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, the Michigan Marriage Counselors Association, the Monroe Mental Health Association, and the National Mental Health Association. In addition, she served as a field instructor with the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, and was a founding partner of Monroe’s first Child and Family Services Agency in 1966. She also served on a committee to create the Monroe Migrant Health Society on behalf of migrant workers.
An active member of her community, she was a member of the Monroe County Historical Society and Eastern Star, as well as president of the Monroe Garden Club. While her children were young, she was very involved in their lives - imparting to them her strong moral values, generosity of spirit, and a love of knowledge and music, and helping them pursue their own interests. She served as president of the Boyd Elementary School PTO, and was a leader in the Custer District 4-H program. In addition, she served on the County, District, and State 4-H Councils. During those years, she was president of the Monroe branch of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, and secretary of the Monroe Women’s Center Board. Combining her love of traveling with family activities, she also served as president of the Monroe Century Trailer Club. In the 1970's, while pursuing her love of antiques, she helped her husband, Dr. Voss, found the Monroe Antique Car Club. Also during this time, she served on the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations, and held the positions of secretary and president of New Life for the Bereaved. She also served on the At Your Service Advisory Board and the Education Advisory Board, and served as the secretary of the Monroe County Mental Health Society, and as vice president of the Planned Parenthood League of Monroe County.
As a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church of Monroe, she served as a lay delegate to the Detroit Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She was the first woman lay leader of her church, a teacher of the youth class, and a member of the church’s administrative board. She also helped to organize an outreach Sunday school program in the North Beach area of Monroe. She was also President of the Monroe Council of Church Women United. Before entering the Chelsea United Methodist Retirement Community in 1992, she was a member of the Frenchtown and Monroe Senior Citizens Organizations.
Her awards for community service included a listing in “Who’s Who in American Women in the West”, a “Person of the Year Award” presented by the Monroe Council of Churches, and the Business and Professional Women’s Good Citizen Award.
As a resident of the Retirement Community, she continued her helpful ways by volunteering in the post office and library, and assisted with church services. As a concerned citizen of Washtenaw County, she was also a member of the Huron River Watershed Council. In 1995, she married Rev. Charles W. Cookingham, who passed away in 2007.
Virnelle is survived by her children, Linda Voss of Monroe, Martha (Robert) Zink of Sheffield Village, OH, Charles (Linda) Voss of LaSalle, MI, and Fred (Irene) Voss of Ypsilanti; as well as her grandchildren, Craig, Andy, Anthony, Fred Jr., and Andrew.
A memorial service was held Monday, March 26, 1:30 p.m. at Chelsea Retirement Community Main Chapel, with Rev. Cathy Rafferty officiating. Burial will take place at Chelsea Retirement Community Memorial Gardens, and Roselawn Memorial Park in LaSalle. Memorial contributions may be made to Heritage Foundation at Chelsea Retirement Community. Arrangements by Cole Funeral Chapel, Chelsea.