Virginia M. Conrads
Virginia M. Conrads December 21, 1923 to April 21, 2009
Virginia “Jinny” Conrads, 85, died peacefully at home on April 21, 2009, after a prolonged illness. Born December 21, 1923, in St. Louis, MO, the only child of Maude Steeber and Clarence W. Lane, Jinny’s preschool dance lessons revealed a talent and drive which blossomed in her teenage years. By 15, she was studying and working in Chicago; at 17, she continued her training in Havana, Cuba. Returning to the States, Jinny danced for the St. Louis Municipal Opera. During World War II, she joined the USO and entertained troops in 48 states. In 2007, she was awarded the USO Coin for Excellence in Service.
Married on June 5, 1948, to James C. Conrads, Jinny’s life turned in a different direction.
Over the next 12 years, she became a mother to five children, one of whom has cerebral palsy. She supported and encouraged her husband in his business endeavors which relocated them to Chicago in 1951, Gainesville, GA in 1954, and Atlanta in 1960. She loved her family and was involved in everything from PTA to Little League, with roles as varied as Cub Scout Den Mother to Cheerleading Coach. Dusting off her ballet slippers, polishing her tap shoes, Jinny taught ballet, sharing her love of dance with future ballerinas.
As her children grew up, Jinny had more time to volunteer. A converted Catholic, church and faith were important to her and countless hours were devoted to various organizations in support of both, including the Women’s Club, Sierra Club and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta.
Characteristic of her adventurous, giving spirit, Jinny volunteered in 1979 for a nationwide experiment which trained individuals to become mediators at the Justice Center of Atlanta (JCA). “Little did she know,” recalls Edith B. Primm, Executive Director of JCA, “how vital to the success of mediation were her enthusiasm for and commitment to learning how to help persons in disputes settle their issues via this process. Having raised five children certainly gave Jinny an added advantage over her classmates in learning this new conflict resolution process!”
Besides volunteering as a mediator, Jinny also became JCA's part-time bookkeeper assuring that the federal and local monies were properly accounted for and wisely spent.
Over the years, Jinny mediated many diverse types of cases from business, family and neighborhood disputes to landlord/tenant and juvenile matters, influencing thousands of people with her abilities and wisdom. When she had to stop mediating in the late 1990's due to her health, she remained until her death a loyal supporter of JCA's widening out-reach.
“JCA's ability to provide state of the art training to persons coming to its facilities in Atlanta from around the world is due largely to the generosity of Jinny's on-going commitment to our services,” Ms. Primm explained. “We were pleased in 2007 to dedicate our Educational Conference Center to Jinny for her exceptional service and support.
We at JCA remain grateful for and shall never forget what Jinny Conrads has meant to our organization and to the future of mediation in this nation.”
Always generous with her time and talents, as her husband’s business flourished, the Conrads were equally generous with their financial resources. After buying a farm in Rutledge, they were instrumental in the formation and building of St. James Catholic Church in Madison. Together, Jinny & Jim established the Conrads Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta which provides annual grants to charitable organizations with a special focus on Catholic churches and schools. In recognition of her generosity, spiritual and religious pursuits, she was inducted into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and achieved the rank of Lady of the Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulchre.
Survivors include her husband, James C. Conrads; children Karen Conrads Wibell and her husband, Peter O. Wibell, Heitzso, Linda A. Conrads, Nancy Conrads Pendergast and her husband John F. Pendergast, Michael C. Conrads and his wife, Cindy Beatty Conrads; grandchildren Katie and Sarah Wibell, Aaron and Michael Harden, Tripp, Jim, Meghan, and David Pendergast, Nick and Jenny Conrads. Funeral Mass 1:30 PM, Monday, April 27, at the Cathedral of Christ the King, 2699 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30305. A brief reception in the church hall was followed by interment at Westview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to St. James Catholic Church, 562 Vine St., Madison, GA 30650 or to the Justice Center of Atlanta, 976 Edgewood Ave. NE, Atlanta GA 30307.
Printed in the April 30, 2009 Edition