Virginia Joyce Schurman

SchurmanVirginia Joyce Schurman, 79, on September 26, 2020, at Broadmead, a Quaker-guided continuing care community in Cockeysville, Md. Virginia was born on August 5, 1941, in Baltimore, Md., the second child of Elmer Adolph Schurman and Dorothy Virginia Gough Schurman. Along with her older brother Donald Gough Schurman and younger sister Lois Jean Schurman, Virginia enjoyed a loving home that her family shared with her maternal grandmother. This intergenerational connection enlivened Virginia’s sense of self and purpose. Virginia’s family affectionately called her Gigi.

Virginia attended Baltimore City Public Schools. She was a voracious reader, poring over the great classics. She also demonstrated an early love of art; one of her paintings won a contest sponsored by the Maryland Institute College of Art. A third love that emerged during Virginia’s young life was gardening. Her father taught her to grow vegetables, and to deepen the bonds of family and friendship by sharing the bounty.

Virginia graduated from Eastern High School in Baltimore. She continued her journey of lifelong learning at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in Westminster, Md.; the University of Delaware, where she earned a master’s degree in biology; and the University of Chicago, where she did doctoral work in microbiology. After teaching at Towson University in Towson, Md., she joined the faculty of Community College of Baltimore County Essex, where she was a beloved teacher for 28 years until her retirement in 2007. Virginia was awarded emeritus status for her teaching excellence.

Among Virginia’s other loves were music and opera. She was a patron of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Opera Company and visited the Metropolitan Opera (New York) for performances and summer workshops, as well as the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York.

Virginia’s intellectual and aesthetic journeys were deeply connected to her faith. She had been raised in the Lutheran Church and discovered the Religious Society of Friends during early adulthood. Virginia found her spiritual home among Quakers. She served Baltimore Yearly Meeting on various committees and helped found its Spiritual Formation Program, which thrived under her care. She participated actively in the life of Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative). She traveled many summers to attend their annual sessions, and remained connected with a group of Conservative Friends in Lancaster, Pa. Virginia served the Tract Association of Friends as both editor and writer, publishing tracts on Prayer (1994), Reclaiming the Bible in Friends Tradition (2001), The Beatitudes: Pathways of Living in True Joy and Peace (2002), and Selections from the Writings of and to Mildred Ratcliff (2003). She wrote articles for Friends Journal and Quaker Religious Thought. Her ministry led her to serve the School of the Spirit in Lancaster, Pa.; to offer workshops at Friends General Conference and other venues; and to serve as a Friend in Residence at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, Pa. Virginia’s spiritual home for the last 25 years of her life was Gunpowder Friends Meeting in Sparks, Md.

In retirement, Virginia widened her circle of engagement to include board service at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum in Catonsville, Md. There she enjoyed historical reenactment. She portrayed the nineteenth-century Quaker Martha Ellicott Tyson, who wrote the first biography of Benjamin Banneker, a notable African American farmer, landowner, surveyor, and author.

In 2008 Virginia moved to Broadmead, where she was challenged by dementia during the last five years of her life.

Virginia was predeceased by her brother Donald Schurman. She is survived by her sister, Lois Jean Schurman Donaldson; sister-in-law Harriet Wagner Schurman; and five nieces and nephews.

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