In memory of

Virginia G. Zupan, age 97, of Helena

February 6, 1922 – July 16, 2019


A promise to her family to live to 100 became perhaps the only one she ever broke when after a brief illness Virginia “Ginny” Zupan died on July 16th at Fort Harrison VA Medical Center in Helena at the age of 97.

Born in River Rouge, Michigan in 1922, she was the eldest of seven children.  After what she described as an idyllic childhood growing up on the shores of a lake in suburban Detroit where her father moved the family to escape the perils of the inner-city (she was an excellent swimmer and figure skater), she studied to become a registered nurse.  Upon graduation she immediately joined the Army Nurse Corps, serving at the end of the war in England and later in Germany, where she met Bill Zupan, a dashing young 1st lieutenant from Montana.  Love and marriage ensued.  She moved with her new husband to Bozeman where Bill completed his degree and shortly thereafter found herself raising children in the bleak coal-mining Tri-Cities area southeast of Great Falls where Bill had taken the job of superintendent of Centerville School.  Eventually the family moved to Great Falls.  In middle age, with most of her children out of the house, she returned to work and spent several happy and fulfilling years traveling the state with the Red Cross Bloodmobile.  In 1983 she and Bill retired and in 1985 moved to Helena to be closer to some of their children and grandchildren.  Bill passed away in 2008 whereupon she became roommates with her oldest daughter, later moving to Son Heaven Assisted Living which was a source of joy and companionship for her until the end.  She was an inexhaustible reader.  Late in life she took up painting, until her hands betrayed her producing many surprising and remarkably fine works, which she trivialized. A fervent Catholic, she recited numberless rosaries on behalf of her six children, Shan (Joe) Lechtenberg, Aurora, Colorado, Terry (Nancy) Zupan, Great Falls, Kim (Janet) Zupan, Missoula, Dan (Jan) Zupan, (Leavenworth, KS.), Mary Kay Bogumill (Paul) and Laurie Zupan (Helena), her seventeen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Impossible and deeply saddening to attempt to sum up a life in so short a space, we take some comfort in knowing her story will continue in the lives of those she leaves behind, who will attempt with little success to emulate her rich and loving life.

The family wishes to thank the staff of Son Heaven and the team of caregivers at Fort Harrison VA Medical Center for their tender and compassionate care of our Mother in her last years and hours.

A Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, July 24th at Retz Funeral Home Chapel, 316 E. 6th Ave. A Graveside Service with Military Honors will follow the service at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery, Fort Harrison, where she will lie beside her husband once again. A reception will be held and announced when set. Please visit below to offer a condolence or share a memory of Virginia.


Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. tom byrnes says

    To the family of (Aunt) Virginia Zupan: It was and has been a great honor to have known my Aunt. She was an outstanding human being and I loved her dearly. I was always made welcome by her, my Uncle Bill and their children. I (we) will greatly miss her. With love and deep respect, Jan and Tom Byrnes

  2. Robert Leo Byrnes says

    Zupan family: I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my sister Virginia. We had many good times growing up in Bellville, Mi. I will always cherish those memories. I wish I could attend her funeral to say a final goodbye but am physically unable. Please accept my deepest condolences for your loss. (Uncle Bob) Robert L. Byrnes

  3. Eileen M Palazzolo says

    Our deepest sympathies at the passing of Aunt Virginia. The few times we did get together, I found her to be ever-joyfilled. She certainly loved her children, husband, and “little brother, Bob.” Love, Eileen and Farrell Palazzolo

  4. Sharon Murphy says

    What a lovely and inspirational tribute to a remarkable woman! We are thinking of you at this sad time and hoping that lots of happy memories help to ease your family’s loss. Love, Shari and Tom Murphy

  5. Margaret Woo says

    Mary Kay and Laurie,
    I am so sorry to hear about your mother. She lived a remarkable life. Sending you my sincere condolences,

  6. Roberta Byrnes says

    Zupan Children, I am saddened to hear of your mother’s passing. Pat always talked about how much fun he and Virginia had as teens and young adults. I was able to experience her great sense of humor and enjoyed my visits with Pat. I will keep you all and Virginia in my prayers. Love, Bobbi

  7. Ralph Beer says

    Very sorry for your loss, Kim and Janet.
    Ralph Beer

  8. Teresa Parsons, COL(Ret), Army Nurse Corps Association says

    A solemn salute to a dedicated Army Nurse. There are no words to bring comfort to the family of Virginia Zupan other than to say she answered the call to serve this great Nation in a time of great need. Wishing peace to the many family members from the many members of the Army Nurse Corps Association.

  9. John Moore says

    I’m sorry to learn of Ginnie’s passing. She was always a bright light in the Fourth Avenue neighborhood and the St. Gerard’s Parish. I have many fond memories of being in the Zupan home and hearing her melodic laugh.

  10. nancy putz says

    Dear Shan and Family,
    So very sorry to read of the passing of your mother. My thoughts will be with you.

  11. Karleen Hanson says

    Mary Kay, Paul and Family
    I’m so sorry to hear of Virginia’s passing. My thoughts are with all of you now – a tough time, but she will be back with Bill now. God Bless.

  12. Frank N. Zupan says

    God bless her! I am trying to find out if my dad (Frank Zupan), born April 27th, 1921 is the oldest living Zupan of all times. Amazingly enough, my dad grew up in Hazel Park, MI. I am sorry to hear that both Bill and Virginia have passed on. God bless their souls.

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