Virginia E. Stein
August 17, 1922 – February 7, 2020
Virginia Stein, a career woman from the early 1940s, has died at the age of 97. Ginny, as her friends have called her, was born on August 17, 1922, in Thornton, Arkansas, the oldest of three daughters of Dr. T.E. Rhine and Mrs. Nanneita Raines Rhine. She attended schools in Thornton, where she was raised, and graduated from high school in April 1939 as valedictorian of her graduating class of 22 students. Her parents – her father was a country family doctor with an integrated medical practice, her mother was a teacher and civic leader who worked to bring New Deal aid to her community -- were role models for her. In September of 1939 Ginny entered Hendrix College, a small liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, where she majored in political science and history and graduated with honors and a B.A. degree in 1943. In 1943, in her final semester at Hendrix, her political science professor asked if she would want to go to Washington as an intern in government in the Rockefeller Foundation National Institute of Public Affairs, and she grabbed at the opportunity and was selected thereafter among 55 promising young college graduates (a majority of them women, because the young men were serving in the armed forces) for the internship in Washington. Ginny’s Washington internship was the start of her first career: two decades of public service. Ginny interned in personnel in the Forest Service Personnel Division, and was hired shortly after finishing the internship by the Agriculture Department’s Food Distribution Administration, which was handling Lend/Lease requests for food. A year later she was hired as an economic analyst by the Board of Economic Warfare’s Division of Supply and Demand, where she worked until the end of the war. At the end of the war, she re-entered academia, enrolling in the first class of the newly formed Russian Institute at Columbia University. After two years, finishing the course of studies, she was hired by the Department of State in its Division of Intelligence Research, working on the internal politics of the USSR. She worked there for three years (January 1949-early 1952), and then returned for a time to Arkansas. Returning from Arkansas, in 1953 she joined the Ford Foundation’s National Citizens Committee for Educational Television as the editor of its newsletter, rallying civic support for getting the newly-reserved public television channels on the air. Ginny married Professor Eric Stein in July 1955. They came from two different worlds – Eric a Jewish Czech refugee, Ginny a woman with deep roots in rural Arkansas. The gap between their backgrounds was tremendous, but they both drew on those differences to enrich their lives. Ginny moved with Eric to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School as a professor of international, European, and comparative law in January 1956. Even before he joined the Michigan faculty, and throughout Eric’s career, Ginny was the first editor of all of Eric’s academic writings. Ginny’s career in public television continued as well: at the same time Ginny and Eric moved to Ann Arbor, the Ford Foundation moved its National Citizens Committee for Educational Television to Ann Arbor, and she moved with her files to be an editor at the National Television and Radio Center, where she worked until 1962. In that year, Ginny and Eric went to Brussels for a year. When they came back, she resumed her job at the Center and worked until they moved the Center to New York. In 1964, Ginny began her second career: two decades as an art historian. In their European travels, Eric would leave Ginny on her own in coffee houses while he went to interview people, and she began to spend a lot of time in museums all over Europe. She realized she knew nothing at all about what she was seeing, and so she decided to audit Michigan graduate courses in art history. She performed so well that she earned a place in the graduate program, and, in 1970, a Masters’ degree in the History of Art with a specialization in French impressionism. In 1972, she was hired as an instructor in the History of Art at Eastern Michigan University Art Department, where she taught for twelve years as Assistant Professor of Art History and served as Slide Librarian. In 1984 (at the age of 62), she resigned to accompany Eric (then 71) for a year in Berlin, West Germany, and thus began her third career. Ginny became, for twenty-five years, Eric’s full time editor and sidekick, both at Michigan and in their extensive foreign travels to Sweden, London, Belgium, Florence, Rome, China, Japan, the Czech Republic, San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, and Mexico. She edited all but the last of Eric’s articles, which he wrote with Prof. Daniel Halberstam (the Eric Stein Professor of International Law at Michigan) in 2009. One of Eric’s former students, Terance Murphy (Order of the British Empire and Order of King Leopold of Belgium, whose ceremony Ginny and Eric attended in Washington), gave the Steins a present: a Tiffany crystal box that is inscribed, “Eric and Ginny Stein, A Dream Team”. Ginny made a number of contributions as a citizen of Ann Arbor. She was one of the founding members of the Learning in Retirement Program in the Turner Geriatric Clinic at the University of Michigan Medical School, and served for eight years on its curriculum planning committee. For a number of years she was on the board of the Friends Committee of the U of M Museum of Art, serving for several years as its Secretary. In addition, she was on the art advisory committee of Washtenaw Community College for accepting art for the walls of the College, serving for a time as the group’s chairman. Ginny was deeply connected to the life of the Law School. She was even responsible for the design of the new roof over the Commons (“Ginny’s roof,” some called it). Her last trip abroad on behalf of the Law School was in 2012, when, accompanied by her sister Pat, she went to Paris for a Law School foreign alumni reunion held as a memorial to Eric, who died in 2011 at the age of 98. Ginny left Arkansas, but Arkansas remained a part of her life, thanks to her closely-knit family and its deep roots in the state. The Marks family (Ginny’s maternal grandmother’s family) has had 142 consecutive family reunions. At the last reunion Ginny attended, the family hosted a reenactment of the Civil War battle that had been fought on the family’s property, with local groups acting the roles of Union and Confederate soldiers. Ginny is survived by her sister, Patricia Rhine Brown, who still lives in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where she once ran and still serves on the board of a 100-year-old family business. She is also survived by her two sisters’ eight surviving children, and by their many children; and, on the Stein side of the family, by Eric’s grand-niece and great-grand-niece Karen and Lucie Weiner and by Eric’s cousins Sonia and Bob Rothenberg and Susie Sofer. Ginny considered a number of Law School administrators and faculty members and their families as her Ann Arbor family, among them Daniel Halberstam and Ellen Katz; Mathias Reimann; Joseph and Alice Vining; Ina and Terry Sandalow (former Dean); Ted St. Antoine (also former Dean) and the late Lloyd St. Antoine; Larry and Lynn Waggoner; and Virginia Gordan. She also remained in close touch with a number of Eric’s former students, whose warm friendship towards her grew over years of hospitality and sustained contact. Ginny remained in her home after Eric died in 2011. After a fall she decided to move to Glacier Hills, where she was quite contented, receiving the attention of old friends and making new friends until the end.
- University of Michigan Law School Eric and Virginia Stein Fund for International and Comparative Law
- Arbor Hospice
Cayce’s Charities, Inc.
415 S. 2nd St. , Thornton, Arkansas 71766
1200 Earhart Rd,
Virginia E. Stein
February 20, 2020
Virginia was a very pleasant, sweet, dear Friend. I had the pleasure to work for her and her husband Eric for many years. She was a woman who was greatly admired by many!! I will miss her very much!
February 20, 2020
I had the pleasure of helping care and cook For Virginia in her Ann Arbor home for years. Virginia she quickly became family to me and my kids, she always had kind words and advice for me and would often correct my grammar. She was always so sweet to my family and she will be missed ❤️
Ani S Tachian
February 12, 2020
There are no words to express my deep sorrow for loosing “Ginny” but I shall always remember and cherish with great affection the fond memories about her smile, her wit and her kindness.
May you Rest In eternal Peace Mrs. Stein ❤️
February 11, 2020
She will always be my sunshine 😍😍😍love her to life