Today, Greene County is different and it has nothing to do with the rancor seen during this election season. No, Greene County said goodbye to longtime resident and benefactor Ethyle Giuseppe on Saturday, and now it’s changed.
Giuseppe passed away on Oct. 17 at 101 years old—a great, long life for sure—in her home on South River Road, just a couple miles from the home where she was born. While many love Greene County, Giuseppe loved it and all who lived here. She used much of her own fortune to make it a better place, both publicly and behind the scenes.
She donated $500,000 in her late husband’s name to get the Greene County campus of Piedmont Virginia Community College in Stanardsville. Dozens of kids from William Monroe High School have had the chance to graduate high school with an associate’s degree, as well. Those numbers would be much lower without the local campus and the scholarships she has provided over the years
She donated money for new scoreboards in the high school gymnasium. She heard there were not bathrooms at the park and immediately made that happen—the Giuseppe Pavilion and basketball courts were given from her heart. She made the greenhouse behind the high school possible, as well as the Linwood Studio behind the Greene County Historical Society, named after her last brother Linwood Rhodes. When she learned the schools would be upgrading the facilities, she donated an additional $100,000 for that and the Cole Commons, a place for kids to eat outdoors off the new cafeteria, is named in her honor.
But she did more behind the scenes, as well, through her church and volunteering with various groups in Greene County. And she kept that quiet.
Giuseppe is the final of the “Grand Dames” of Greene County to pass on. We lost Eloise Giles, who was almost 98 years old, tragically in a traffic accident earlier this year and we lost Jeraldine Morris McMullen Tata (aka Mama Tata), 90, in fall 2017.
The moniker comes from the “Date with the Grandes Dames” fundraiser for the Art Guild of Greene County in September 2017, but suits this trio well. Each of these ladies gave back to Greene County in outstanding fashion.
While we should grieve these losses it’s time for others to step up and take the lead.
During Giuseppe’s eulogy, the Rev. Dr. Will Dyer told the audience to live the way she did “full of passion and full of love for the community.”
“Go out and make Greene County, or the world wherever you find it, a better place because that is what she would have wanted from us,” he said.
As we remember those who have passed away, we should also realize it now falls to those of us left to find a way do good in Greene County, to make life better for someone else, to do more and to be better.
And there is no time like the present to begin.