Upton - Virginia Kuykendall, 94, of Upton, MA died at her home on October 1, 2012, surrounded by the love of her children. She was known for her warm smile and her passion for social justice.
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1918, Virginia moved to Plainfield, N.J. with her parents Edward and Rachel Thompson and her brothers Hamblin (Ham) and Stanley. In 1939 she earned a degree in chemistry, from Oberlin College. Before her graduation, however, she took a summer class in chemistry at Rutgers where Donald Foulke was pursuing a chemistry PhD. They met playing baseball and married in 1940. Don began teaching college in PA. "Ginny" worked in a lab near-by. When Ginny's employer was appointed to the WWII War Production Board he offered Don a high security job in Decatur, Illinois. Ginny, left behind, also joined the war effort. As men left for the front she was assigned to arrange transportation for Sherman tanks by going down to the rail yard to compete for scarce flatbed cars. However, some men in her division complained about a woman having such a job and she was forced to relinquish it. She returned to Plainfield, N.J. where her first child was born in 1944.
After the war Ginny and Don took on building a home hands-on, in Watchung, NJ, with the help of a mason and a friend. Ginny was listed as the "electrician" on the job, having taught herself electrical wiring.
In the 1950s she was elected to the Watchung school board where her leadership led to a "shop" program for 7th and 8th grade girls as well as boys.
After the birth of her fourth child, Ginny returned to Rutgers and acquired a Master's degree. She began teaching math and science in 1961 and filed for a divorce in 1962. She was very proud of the creative approaches she invented to help students succeed, especially those students who faced challenges.
Outraged by injustices experienced by blacks, the poor, and persons with disabilities, Ginny continued moving forward. She enrolled in a paralegal program at NYU, graduating in 1975. She retired from teaching in 1978, married Earnest Kuykendall, and moved to Holliston, MA. Her mother had also returned to MA and now lived in Upton. With one daughter in Boston and another in Vermont, the family was relocating.
Ginny joined the newly-formed South Middlesex Legal Services in Framingham, MA in 1979, first as a volunteer paralegal, next as half-time employee, then working full-time until her retirement after twenty years at 81. She was a passionate advocate for clients with disabilities, maintaining friendships with several clients long after her representation concluded. In November 2011, Ginny was among 35 honorees at the 35th anniversary celebration of Metrowest Legal Services.
A member of the social justice committee at the Unitarian-Universalist Society of Grafton & Upton, MA, Ginny was proud of her third-generation Unitarian roots. She contributed to the Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, MetroWest Legal Services, and Truth-Out. Contributions to these organizations in lieu of flowers would honor her memory.
Ginny is survived by her children, Heleni Thayre of Brookline, MA, Alexandra Thayer and her husband Ed Hutchinson of Plainfield, VT, D.G. "Gary" Foulke Jr. of Upton, MA, Richard Foulke and his wife Linda of Waxhaw, NC, and by four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 pm, January 20, 2012, at the Unitarian-Universalist Society of Grafton & Upton located on the green in Grafton, MA. All are welcome.
Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Dec. 27, 2012 to Jan. 6, 2013