Virginia Cromwell, long time resident of Ozona, Florida, passed away at the age of 91 on August 9, 2021 under the care of Suncoast Hospice and her family at her son’s home in Clearwater, Florida.
Virginia Lempicki was born in Detroit, MI on March 6, 1930 as the only child of the late Loretta Frankowicz and Zygmund Lempicki. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she was raised in the Polish Catholic tradition by her mother and her beloved Polish grandmother, Caroline (Busia) Szcepanik Frankowicz. As a child, she spoke only Polish until she was 4 years old. She grew up in a close-knit family surrounded by her aunts and uncles and playing with cousins who were more like siblings.
She graduated from high school and went to work for Awry Bakery like her mother. In the late 1940’s she moved to Louisiana to help an uncle run his flower shop. She quickly became quite talented as a florist. It was here that she met Dean, the love of her life, who was managing his uncle’s bar next door to the flower shop. Shortly afterwards, she moved back to Detroit, and Dean followed. Alfred Dean Cromwell and Virginia were married in Detroit on September 8, 1950, the 2nd anniversary of the day they met.
Shortly after they were married, Dean joined the Army and served as a driver for the commander of his Army Corps of Engineers unit. While Dean was overseas, Virginia was trained as a key punch operator and was hired to work in the payroll department of the Ford Motor Company plant in Dearborn. When Dean returned from his deployment, Virginia picked him up in a new convertible Mercury car that she had saved up to purchase for him while he was away.
They purchased their first home on Henry Ruff in Garden City, MI where they raised 2 sons and a daughter. While at home raising her young children, Virginia learned how to make plaster plaques. Her creations were so popular that that their sales quickly evolved into her own home party business – Wall Décor by Virginia. She and Dean poured plaster into molds to create the plaques, then stained or painted them to order. A couple of Virginia’s close friends and cousins joined her as demonstrators, and the business thrived for many years.
In the 1970s they made their first trip to Florida, and Virginia fell in love with the tropical climate. They purchased their first home in Ozona and looked forward to living there upon retirement. All 3 children moved to Florida as they graduated from High School, and they lived in this home while attending college. Virginia came to Florida as often as possible to visit her children, and Dean joined her to celebrate holidays in Ozona. By the late 70s, Virginia had moved her mother to Florida.
Just before Dean retired in the early 80s, a friend in Michigan introduced her to shopping at garage sales, and she was hooked! She loved buying and selling treasures at garage sales. While she maintained that she really didn’t collect anything, she acquired quite a variety of crystal pieces, Cloisonne, dolls and nutcrackers. She loved military pilots (Blue Angels and Thunderbirds), and Budweiser Clydesdale collectibles. She enjoyed crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, working in the yard, and listening to a vast variety of music genres from classical to rock-n-roll.
Virginia, a devout Catholic at heart, was a member of Northwood Presbyterian Church where she participated in Presbyterian Women studies and served as a member of the Kitchen Krew, preparing and serving food at church dinners and memorial receptions. In most recent years, she combined her love for buying and selling at garage sales with her love and care for her fellow seniors, helping those transitioning into assisted living facilities downsize by selling their unneeded items for them.
Virginia was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Alfred Dean Cromwell, and her daughter Sherry Lynn Cromwell. She is survived by two sons: Michael Cromwell (Marilyn) in Clearwater and Jim Cromwell (Kim) in Farmington Hills, MI; five grandchildren: Daniel Cromwell (Julie) in Hudson, Michelle Duclos (Tim) in Jacksonville, FL, Robert Cromwell and Jonathan Cromwell (Leanna) in Farmington Hills, MI, and Katherine Marcum (Richard) in Livonia, MI; and 9 great grandchildren. A tenth great grandchild is due in October.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions in Virginia’s name to Northwood Presbyterian Church designated to one of Virginia’s favorite groups: Kitchen Krew or Good Neighbors. Good Neighbors is a local 501c3 food rescue organization that rescues food for distribution to seniors, homeless, food pantries, and the economically disadvantaged in our community. Please indicate your preference on the memo line of the check - “Kitchen Krew” or “Good Neighbors.”
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