color photo of Virginia RussellThe Sterling College community mourns the loss of Virginia de Ganahl Russell, of Vero Beach, Florida, who passed away on August 16, 2018. Virginia was one of Sterling’s most loyal supporters and cared deeply about the College, its students and its community.

Virginia began her service on the Board of Trustees in 1987 and acted as its chair from 1991 to 1994. She then was elected to emeritus status and in 1999 was reelected to the Board. Virginia received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the College in May of 2016. “Virginia cared deeply about Vermont and Sterling College. She felt that the possibilities for the College were endless and her aspirations were inspiring to me,” said Matthew Derr, Sterling College president.

Virginia’s tenure as the chair of the board was critical to the success of Sterling today.  During those years she carefully stewarded the College through a challenging financial period. During her leadership of the Board of Trustees, Sterling College adopted the motto “Working Hands, Working Minds.” 

Sterling students work daily in the Virginia Russell Woodlot, a living laboratory for farm and forestry classes that abuts Sterling’s campus. These woods are home to over 200 maple taps and numerous species of birds and were recognized by the Bird-Friendly Maple Project in 2015 as supporting both bird habitats and sugaring activity.

In her professional life, Virginia was known as an accomplished and entrepreneurial business leader. She owned Natural Elegance, Inc., a marble products company based in Brandon, Vermont.

Virginia’s son Ken Russell serves on the Sterling College Board of Advisors.


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