Virginia Cronin Peckham, Ph.D, passed away peacefully in her home in Coatesville, PA, on July 16, 2022 at the age of 81. Virginia, or Ginny, as she was called by her friends and family, was a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, wife, and friend to many. She was born to John William Cronin and Virginia Dunkel Cronin on September 9, 1940, in Leavenworth, Kansas. She spent most of her formative years in Bethesda-Chevy Chase, MD, when her father served as the Assistant Surgeon General of the United States. At the age of 10, Ginny contracted polio leaving one of her legs paralyzed. This experience enabled her to bring incredible empathy and compassion to her life’s work. She was guided by what her father taught her and passed this positive attitude onto her own and many other children. He said, “You can live over or under a handicap, only you can choose. You can teach people how to treat you - not with pity for what you cannot do physically but with respect for what you can do with your other abilities.”
She went on to graduate from Duke University majoring in history and then pursued graduate studies in education at George Washington University and Harvard University. She received a Ph.D in Human Service Administration, Special Education from Temple University in 1986. Both her personal and professional commitment was to the betterment of children’s lives.
Ginny became a teacher of and advocate for young people who faced barriers to their education. Her efforts helped students with learning and developmental disabilities as well as those who were long-term survivors of childhood cancer. Ginny’s final professional role was as the Executive Director of Family Support Services in Upper Darby, PA, a non-profit social service and educational agency with programs in child-abuse prevention and early intervention services. She also served on the board of the Presbyterian Children’s Village in Rosemont, PA. Her career accomplishments were recognized through a number of awards including the Delaware County Council Distinguished Service and Exemplary Citizen Award, the Women’s Way Women of Courage Award, and the Philadelphia Business Journal Women of Distinction Award.
Ginny raised a family of three daughters with her former husband George Peckham. She instilled in her daughters the values of continuous learning, making time for family and fun, and caring for others. She especially loved to spend time near water, whether that was the exercise classes in the Freedom Village swimming pool or on the beaches of Cape Cod, MA, and Sanibel Island, FL. Swimming was an important part of her polio recovery as a child and the freedom she felt gliding through the water was something she pursued throughout her life. Ginny also traveled within the US and internationally to visit her children and grandchildren. She was an active member of St. Francis of the Field in Malvern, PA, where she served on the vestry and on the flower ministry. In her retirement, Ginny pursued the arts as an active member of the Wayne Oratorio Society, Media Chamber Chorale, and the Berkshires Chorus. She also enjoyed sewing, visual arts classes, movies, and good books. She was always happy to share recommendations for the latter two.
Ginny was a thoughtful and kind friend to many. She will be dearly missed, especially by her surviving children Kathleen Allen (David), Laura O’Brien (Thomas), and Christina Lambdin (John) and her six grandchildren whom she loved with all her heart: Monique, Kathryn, Robert, Bennett, Charlotte, and Samantha.
A celebration of life will be held on Friday, September 9 at St. Francis-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, 689 Sugartown Rd, Malvern, PA. Visitation with family at 10:00 a.m.; service at 11:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in memory of Virginia Peckham to Gemma Services, a non-profit organization that provides mental health services, education, and specialized support for vulnerable and at-risk kids, teens, and families. Messages of condolences to Virginia’s family can be sent to 1311 Sonnet Lane, West Chester, PA 19380.