Virginia Bethea Shinholser
June 1, 1930 – June 29, 2018
The Life of Virginia Shinholser
Virginia Shinholser, born Virginia Louise Bethea on June 1, 1930 in Fenholloway, Florida, passed away suddenly on the morning of June 29, 2018. She ended her eighty-eight year journey in Baptist Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, surrounded by loved ones. She was the daughter of Loundis and Melba Bethea. Virginia was predeceased by her son, Charles Ray Shinholser, Jr. and siblings Carolyn Bethea Croft, L.B. Bethea, Jr., Colin Bethea, and Leon Bethea. She is survived by her husband Charles Ray; four children, Olin Shinholser and wife Brenda; Mark Shinholser and wife Bobbie; Robin Cotchaleovitch and husband John; Melissa Hungerford and husband Don; and daughter-in-law Debbie Shinholser Benninghoff and husband Rick Benninghoff; eleven grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren, Steven Shinholser, wife Michelle, and children Cody and Lance; Julie Shinholser Fowler, husband Chris, and children Joshua and Rachel; Ricky Shinholser, wife Holly, and children Easton and Jase; Marty Cotchaleovitch and children Abigail, Benjamin, Olivia, Elizabeth, and Ava; Rebecca Shinholser; Chad Cotchaleovitch and wife Toni; Mandy Shinholser Pagano, husband Tony, and children Joshua and Lara; Thomas Cotchaleovitch, wife Sarah, and children Peter and Ian; Michael Shinholser, wife Sarah, and children Evan and Lilly; Matthew Hungerford, wife Kristin, and Baby Hungerford (due in November); and Ryan Hungerford. Her surviving siblings are Wilson Bethea, Lanell Bethea McKinney, Belvajean Bethea Millinor, Buddy Bethea and wife Catherine, and Janet Bethea Wiles and husband Billy. Virginia was raised in Perry, Florida, the eldest of 10 children. She graduated salutatorian of her class at Taylor County High School in 1948, all while helping her mother raise her younger siblings. In Perry, she met Charles Ray Shinholser, and the two were married on September 24, 1950. Charles became a manager and district manager for the A&P, a job which moved the Shinholsers to South Georgia before they settled in Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. They started their family in 1952 when son Olin was born, followed by Mark, Robin, Ray, and Lissa. Virginia stayed at home while Charles worked, raising the children and running the household. She gardened both flowers and vegetables on the two-acre property where they moved in 1967 and where Charles still resides. She served on the PTA, as the volunteer nurse, and as a homeroom mom at her children's elementary school. She was active in her church, teaching two- and three-year-olds for 30 years. She personally ministered to others throughout her life with thoughtful cards sent to every church member or loved one who was sick, hospitalized, or grieving or celebrating a birthday or anniversary. Church memberships included Wesconnett Church of Christ in Jacksonville and Lakeside Church of Christ in Orange Park. Virginia's children grew up, married, had children of their own (and from then on she and Charles became known as Mema and Pepa), and pursued their different careers. Their eldest son Olin is a Senior Circuit Judge in Sebring, Florida. Daughter Robin has been an executive assistant for several companies, both in Jacksonville and Central Florida. Daughter Lissa has worked in human resources as manager in several companies in Jacksonville. Sons Mark and Ray both became police officers for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Mark retiring as a sergeant after 35 years. In December 1988, Ray was killed in a motorcycle accident while on duty. After the shattering loss of their youngest son, Charles and Virginia turned their tragedy into one of the greatest blessings for law enforcement officers and their families in Northeast Florida. After attending the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial groundbreaking in 1989 and dedication in 1991 and paying for these trips to Washington D.C. themselves, Charles and Virginia were instrumental in starting a Northeast Florida Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors in1998. C.O.P.S. makes sure that the surviving families of fallen police officers are able to travel to D.C. to see their loved ones' names on the wall—but that is just the start. C.O.P.S. offers retreats for parents and family members of fallen officers, furnishes resources to rebuild the lives of families of officers killed in the line of duty, and throws an annual Christmas party for the surviving families. Charles has been Executive Director of the Northeast Florida Chapter since inception, and he and Virginia were in the midst of planning four benefit concerts, to be performed by the River City Men's and Women's Choruses in July, at the time of Virginia's unexpected death. Along with attending C.O.P.S. functions for nearly thirty years, Virginia remained active in her church community and family life. After Charles's retirement, she and Charles worked part-time for Volume Services at the old Coliseum and Gator Bowl, later Veteran's Memorial Arena and Jaguars Stadium. Here, Mema created lifelong friendships and collected Jaguars merchandise to shower upon kids, grands, and great-grands every Christmas. Charles and Virginia's home always was and will be open to anyone in need, both Virginia and Charles welcoming all with Christ-like hospitality. One example is when they welcomed four Sudanese refugees to join the family for Christmas dinner and fellowship in 2005. But when friends and family weren't congregating at their home, the couple kept busy, often traveling for C.O.P.S. memorials, retreats, and functions, church trips, visiting family (in and out of town), and attending extracurricular events for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Every minute of Virginia's eighty-eight years was spent in serving others, and those whose lives she touched are stricken by this great loss. Virginia was always active. The captain of her high school basketball team and catcher for her high school softball team, she continued to share her active lifestyle with daughter Lissa, who played softball, and her grandchildren, who grew up playing ball with her at her home. She also loved dominoes and never lost a game of Chinese checkers. It wasn't until much later in life that Virginia ever experienced any health problems, and even then, she was unwilling to let any ailment slow her down. This is evidenced in the many visitors who came to see her in the hospital and were blessed by her continued hospitality from a hospital bed. In 2006, Virginia was hospitalized for 40 days after heart valve repair, and although the family was afraid of losing her then, she was determined to live until 100. Virginia loved to read, and this extended to her Bible most of all. So it is appropriate to say that she embodied the characteristics of the virtuous woman, as found in selected verses from Proverbs 31: "[F]or her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life […] Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." She was a fierce woman in her convictions and opinions, her hair washing (just ask her grandchildren), her dogged determination to pronounce words the way she wanted to ("damaters"/tomatoes, "Hiwarya"/Hawaii, "pillars"/pillows, "yeller"/yellow), and the love of her family. She never wanted to miss a phone call, even if it meant answering while "nekkid as a jaybird." She never met a styrofoam cup that couldn't be washed and reused. She was a closet hoarder. Literally. You should see her closets. She was respected and obeyed by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Her daughters could not have asked for a better friend and shopping companion. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren couldn't have had a better advocate. Anyone who got a tattoo was pronounced "crazy and relapsed" (true story). But Mema's fierceness was evidenced most in her fight to live. Until hours before her passing from this world to the next, none of her family knew how hard her body had fought to survive the scar tissue that resulted from the removal of colon cancer in late 2012. Everyone who knew Virginia knew her as a part of a two-person unit. Whether you knew them as Charles-and-Virginia, Mama-and-Daddy, or Mema-and-Pepa, they did almost everything together, and he never left her side during the last week of her life. But Pepa does love to hunt or is sometimes called away on C.O.P.S. business, and during those times, Mema did not sit idly at home. She was always ready for the next adventure, including one memorable afternoon in which she went to the wrong theatre and watched a movie in its entirety while the family searched for her, scared half to death. Pepa will miss his second set of ears, his walking partner at the mall, and his steadfast companion. The rest of the family will miss hearing her get on to him ("Hey! Charles Ray!"). We cannot fathom life without the glue that holds our family together, but we take comfort in the words she spoke to two of her great-grandchildren the night before she died: she told them she would see them after surgery, but if this was it, then she had lived a good long life and was thankful for everything. (She also stated that Pepa's middle name was Impatient.) Visitation will be held on Friday, July 6th from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. at the Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home at 729 Edgewood Avenue South, Jacksonville, Florida 32205. The public is also invited to a funeral at Lakeside Church of Christ, 2539 Moody Avenue, Orange Park, Florida 32073 on Saturday, July 7th at 11:00 A.M., followed by the burial beside her son Ray at Riverside Memorial Park. A reception of remembrance will follow in the church fellowship hall. Pallbearers will be Mema and Pepa's eight grandsons: Steven (in absentia) and Ricky Shinholser, Marty, Chad, and Thomas Cotchaleovitch, Michael Shinholser, and Matthew and Ryan Hungerford. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to Concerns of Police Survivors, Northeast Florida Chapter, 5530 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207.
- Visitation Friday, July 6, 2018
- Funeral Service Saturday, July 7, 2018
- Committal Service Saturday, July 7, 2018
Virginia Bethea Shinholser
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July 7, 2018
Virginia was certainly the epitome of the virtuous woman but also very down to earth, especially in the garden. I was just in the garden this morning thinking of her and knowing that she would be laid to rest soon. It gave me a sense of peace because that’s what she was all about. She grew people, plants, the Church and love!! Goodbye for now to a wonderful friend and sister in Christ! I love you and your good family!!
Bob and Linda Hansell
July 6, 2018
My husband Bob and I met Charlie and Virginia (Mr. & Mrs. Shinholser to us) when we started attending the Florida Sheriff's Association Conferences. From the moment we met them they immediately made us feel like family and we looked forward to seeing them at the events. Mrs. Shinholser was so quiet but her smile would light up the room. She was always so kind, considerate, and loving. She will be dearly missed by so many, especially her law enforcement family.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Shinholser family.
With love and respect,
Retired Sheriff Bob Hansell and wife Linda
July 3, 2018
I will never forget growing up with the Shinholser's. What a wonderful mother she was. Eating dinner at her house was an event. It comforts me to know that she is with her precious son, Ray. I can hear him saying "Welcome home, Momma!" She will be sorely missed by all who knew her.
July 2, 2018
Virginia was a tireless sympathetic ear for so many people in the State of Florida. She was so resilient and I am very sad to know she will no longer be at our State Memorial Foundation services. Her physical presence will be missed although she will be there in spirit. Charles and the family you have my sincerest condolences. You will always remain in my thoughts and prayers. Heaven has gained an angel and we have lost a friend.
JANIS B LAMPE
July 2, 2018
Virginia was an amazing woman and I feel blessed to have known her. Her angelic smile and sweet voice made her a joy to always be around. She had so many successes and accomplishments, a wealth of hopes and dreams that she fulfilled, and days upon days of helping others selflessly. If ever there was an inconsolable grief, it has been losing her. My comfort is knowing she has left me with a wonderful legacy to celebrate. My thoughts and love and prayers are with Charles, their children Olin, Mark, Robin and Lissa, grandchildren, great grandchildren, in-laws and the entire extended beautiful family. I know there are thousands of us who are thinking about you and lifting you up in our prayers. Virginia touched so many of our lives, and I know we have all been enriched by her.
July 2, 2018
Charles, let me extend my condolences to you and your family for the loss of Virginia. While I did not know Virginia as well as you and your sons I want you to know my warmest sympathy, support and admiration go out to all of you.
July 1, 2018
I have had the pleasure of knowing Virginia and her family for some 30 years. My children grew up with Melissa at Wesconett COC. She has always been a beautiful lady both inside and out. Virginia always had a smile on her face and words of encouragement any time I met her. She is kind and thoughtful of others. I remember how nice it was to receive a card from her every week during my husbands illness. I pray Gods blessings on her family for the hard days ahead.What a great example of a great Christian lady she was.Love to all of you.
July 1, 2018
It was such a privilege to have known such a loving, compassionate and caring lady who gave so much to her family, church, the C.O.P.S. organization and all those who knew her. Although I knew her for many years, her compassion and demeanor never changed. She was a beautiful lady inside and out. Although her candle of light has been extinguished on this earth, she is now a bright and shining star in the kingdom of her God. Virginia, you will be missed!!
July 1, 2018
Virginia, so warm and caring, was one of the first people to 'welcome' me to a club that no one ever wants to join - Concerns of Police Survivors.
She has joyfully reunited with her beloved son and is celebrating with him, which makes us glad for her, but the void in our hearts is huge.
Go with God, Virginia, and rest in everlasting peace.
June 30, 2018
I will always remember Mrs. Shinholser as a kind, sweet, giving and precious lady. She reminded me so much of my own Mom who past many years ago. Mrs. Shinholser will be surely missed by our family and many others. But we will meet again one day. Heaven gained a very special Angel.
June 30, 2018
Each and everyone who met and knew Virginia Shinholser is blessed with many cherished moments of even being in her presence. She led a Godly life, being kind and accepting of everyone she met. She gave to her family, church, and fellow law enforcement survivors unconditional love. There is no doubt that Virginia has already met her Maker. So I will pray for those of us she left behind, especially Charles and their beautiful family, since we all lost a precious treasure when Virginia left this world. Thank you, Virginia, for sharing your beautiful life with us. You taught us how to love and live. May you Rest In Peace, my friend.
Andrena and Joe Knicely
June 30, 2018
Virginia was a precious, precious cousin! She loved our huge extended family and was always there to share her abundant love. Now we have another shadow of a limb in our family tree. Too many these days! Her sudden passing, all-be-it to such a better place, is so very painful to me! I will miss her terribly!!!!
Much, much love and HUGE hugs to her wonderful family!
Cindy Hatcher Warren
June 30, 2018
On behalf of Alabama Concerns of Police Survivors we offer our deepest sympathy to Charles and the entire family of Virginia.
I met Charles and Virginia at my first Parents Retreat. Virginia spent time listening, giving me hope there could be a future in the darkness of losing my son.
Then I found out she is also my sister in Christ. I KNOW I will see her again.
Cindy Hatcher Warren, Foley AL, Eastern Shore church of Christ
Michelle Romeis Farber
June 30, 2018
What a beautiful soul. She was one of the nicest, sweetest people I have ever known. I came to know her through C.O.P.S. and will always remember how she worked tirelessly in getting things ready for all when we had a meeting. Rest well sweet Virginia and on angels wings to heaven soar.
June 29, 2018
Charlotte and I send our love to all the family. What a great Christian lady and loved by so many. Our hearts are sadden but knowing her eternal desinty we are happy for her reward. Lakeside congregation has lost a wonderful lady, who will be greatly missed. Our prayers are for Charles, may God bless you with wonderful memories.
Donnie N. Shinholser
June 29, 2018
I have so many fond memories of my Aunt Virginia. As we grew up, Mom and Dad used to take us to see Uncle Charlie and Aunt Virginia and all of our Cuzes when they lived in Georgia, and later after they moved to Jacksonville. We've had so many awesome Shinholser reunions and Virginia was always a loving, caring person. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, friends. I am forever grateful for my heritage and having had so many awesome family members that lived lives that were positive examples for me. It's awesome to have family that live lives of honesty, integrity and respect. I'm looking forward to seeing her again in Heaven.
Linda Moon Gregory
June 29, 2018
Many people have come into my life over the years but I cannot recall anyone more loving and compassionate that Virginia Shinholser. My life has been truly enriched and blessed by hers. She was known across this country and loved by so many. There will be a void in our hearts. Praise God she is healed now and with our Lord who she loved and served.
June 29, 2018
Virginia had a great love for the Lord and her family. Dave and I have been so blessed to have known Virginia and all the Shinholser family. She always had a kind word and a sweet smile. I will always remember her laughter and caring concern for both of us. My love to all the family. May God comfort you all during this time of loss and rejoicing.