Founding VAM member Virginia McNeice, 82, died on March 12, 2019, surrounded by her loving family. Virginia was the beloved wife of Donald McNeice. Born July 17, 1936 in Riverdale, N.Y., she was the daughter of the late Harold and Maude (Taylor) Paro. Virginia (Jini) attended Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn, N.Y., graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. In 1966, the family moved from Huntington, Long Island to Cambridge, NY to pursue their dream of living on a farm with their family.
Jini became a prolific and regionally-renowned landscape artist who drew inspiration from the natural beauty of the countryside she loved. Her work is in private collections, regional galleries, local hospitals and businesses. Jini’s art moved many people and even inspired some to begin their own artistic journey. Her artist friends valued her knowledge and insight, as she welcomed them into her studio and her life. As celebrated as she was in the art world, Jini accepted accolades with humility and grace. A quotation on her studio wall reads, “It’s the process, not the product”. Jini enjoyed being a vital member of the Cambridge community, Valley Artisans Market, Hubbard Hall, Battenkill Chorale, and the Agricultural Stewardship Association. Her calendar was always full.
Visitors to her studio were drawn to her gardens, which were one of her personal passions, and on hot days she would alternate gardening with dips in the pool. Jini and Don knew that gathering and growing their family around them was another expression of art in its finest form. Family extended far beyond blood relatives: they frequently opened their home to their children’s friends, young artists, and friends with shared interests. Jini was generous with cuttings from her garden, a quick art crit or a recommendation for a good book to read. The McNeice home was always open and the table always full. In the early years Jini and Don were proud to produce all their own food for the table, and in later years Jini always had a large vegetable garden, which she shared with family and friends and, to her great annoyance, woodchucks and rabbits.
Her children write, “Our mother taught us to see and appreciate color and light in the landscape around us. She taught us the pleasure of putting our hands in the dirt and making something beautiful. She encouraged in us her love of poetry and words, from juicy, descriptive phrases in a novel to a particularly witty wedding announcement in the Times, to a poignant line in a Mary Oliver poem. We learned to be curious and hardworking; to follow our passion; and to value family above all.”
Virginia was predeceased by her husband Donald of 54 years. Survivors include four children, Maggie McNeice of South Portland, Maine; Brian McNeice and his wife Jenny Ramstetter of Halifax, VT.; Kathy McNeice and her husband, JR Dugas of Cambridge; Annie McNeice of Cambridge; her sister, Diana Schleicher of Greenwich, NY; and many nieces, nephews and eight grandchildren. If you would like to remember Jini in a special way, the family suggests a donation to a Hubbard Hall or the Agricultural Stewardship Association.