Virginia S. (Simpson) Ricci

AMHERST - Virginia S. Ricci, 88, of South Amherst, died Dec. 20, 2012, at Linda Manor Extended Care Facility, Leeds.

She was born in Providence, R.I., to David and Emma (nee Mellor) Simpson and grew up in Edgewood (Cranston), R.I. Virginia graduated from Cranston High School, Class of 1941, and was a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society.

After high school and during World War II, she worked at a bank in Providence.

Virginia married her high school sweetheart, 2nd Lieutenant Benjamin Ricci, USAAC, at Post Chapel, Fort Leavenworth Kansas, on June 23, 1944. During the 1950s, she and her husband hosted students from numerous European countries who were participating in the Experiment in International Living, Putney. Vt. She visited some of these 'Experimenters' during her many trips to Europe, especially Italy. It was after her husband's 1963 Sabbatical to Italy that she began learning Italian, becoming an accomplished speaker, an ability she retained throughout her entire life.

She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, class of 1974 and then attended Middlebury College Summer Italian School. She taught 'English as a Second Language' for many years through UMass and had many students from Italy and Japan.

Virginia made an extensive photo study of the Stave Churches of Norway in 1971 and a similar study of the Campanile of Italy in 1978. These photographs were displayed locally.

She was a member of the 'Thursday Club' of South Amherst for many years. She always enjoyed singing and was a member of the Grace Church Choir, Hampshire Choral Society and the Amherst Opera Society. She sang in the chorus at the premier of Randall Thompson's "Frostiana" at Amherst Regional High School in 1959. For many years, she was a member of the Belchertown State School Friends Associated, later known as the Advocacy Network.

She was involved with a landmark lawsuit for the rights of mentally retarded citizens. Virginia was a real and true advocate for the disabled person and his or her family.

Virginia is survived by her three sons, Robert S. Ricci of Amherst; James B. Ricci of Haydenville and his wife Margaret E. McCarthy, his grandson James and his partner Sarah Hulton, his great-granddaughter Juno of Astana, Kazakhstan, his grandson Jonathan and wife Sabine Schroeder of Frankfurt Germany; and Thomas D. Ricci of Antelope, Calif. and his wife Susan, granddaughters Anne and Emily and grandson David. Virginia's husband, Benjamin, died in 2006.

Funeral services will be private. A memorial service is planned for the spring. Memorial donations may be made to The Advocacy Network, P.O. Box 2071, Amherst, MA 01004 or to VNA Hospice of Cooley Dickinson, 168 Industrial Dr., Northampton, MA 01060.

Obituary and memorial register at

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Funeral Home

Douglass Funeral Home
87 North Pleasant Street Amherst, MA 01002
(413) 253-3407

Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Dec. 28, 2012