Working to support her four children, Virginia “Ginger” C. Opoczenski Whittington’s father immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1910 in order to avoid serving in the Russian Czar’s Army. Ironically, he became a citizen by volunteering as a member of the American Army Artillery and saw action in World War I. Her mother’s parents also immigrated from Poland in about 1900, before their marriage and her birth as the oldest child of nine in 1903 in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. Ms. Whittington was interested in teaching Spanish, which was her major, and it fit in with her children’s schedule with having summers off. Once she got into it, she learned to be an effective teacher and she could understand how difficult it was for some students, so she had to individualize her lesson plans for them.
Ms. Whittington began her professional career as a teaching assistant in Spanish at the University of Pittsburgh in 1972, remaining in this position for one year while teaching Spanish at Villa Maria Academy High School and Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, from 1972 to 1975. She then taught Spanish, Latin and English within the Mohawk Area School District in Bessemer, Pennsylvania, from 1975 until her retirement in 1996. In addition to this tenure, Ms. Whittington was a freelance writer and vacation reporter for The Vindicator Newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio, from 1979 to 1984, through which she published numerous human interest feature articles.
Prior to the start of her career, Ms. Whittington pursued a formal education at Pennsylvania State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1953. She then matriculated at the University of Pittsburgh, where she received a Master of Arts in 1972. She went on to attain a Master of Education from Westminster College in 1978, and completed coursework on art in other subjects at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Additionally, Ms. Whittington was certified to teach through Slippery Rock University in 1971, and is certified in other subjects including secondary education, Spanish, Latin, social studies and English.
Active in her local community, Ms. Whittington was a Clinton delegate at the Democratic National Convention in 1992 and 1996, and vice president of the Citizens League of Greater Youngstown for a decade. Likewise, she served on the board of directors for the First Unitarian Church of Youngstown, now known as the UU Church of Youngstown, and a member of the Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, Pennsylvania, and the Chester County Democratic Executive Committee. Ms. Whittington was also a committeeperson for the Tredyffrin Township Democrats in Pennsylvania and vice president of the Mahoning County Democratic Party in Ohio, as well as chaperoned Mohawk students on six trips to eight European countries between 1978 and 1983.
A prolific writer, Ms. Whittington was the society editor of the Daily Collegian, published by Collegian, Inc., and Pennsylvania State University, from 1952 to 1953. Outside of her primary trade, she was president of the League of Women Voters of Lawrence County from 1966 to 1969, and served the Greater Youngstown chapter of the National Organization for Women as president from 1988 to 1991 and on the national child care task force in 1990. Some years later, she was president of the national board political planning committee of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus from 1999 to 2009. Furthermore, Ms. Whittington was formerly active with the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Phi Beta Kappa and the small group ministry of the Main Line Unitarian Church.
In light of her exceptional undertakings, Ms. Whittington received two summer scholarships from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and was selected for inclusion in the eighth edition of Who’s Who in American Education, the 22nd edition of Who’s Who in the Midwest, and the 63rd and 72nd editions of Who’s Who in America. She was also acknowledged as a Spanish honorary member of Phi Sigma Iota, a freshman member of Lambda Sigma and all college honorary member of Phi Sigma Alpha.