Girl Scouts are known for leaving places better than they found them. And former troop leader Virginia Cubalchini, 86, of Park Forest, IL left the world a better place than she found it through her nearly 40 years of service as a volunteer.

After learning about Mrs. Cubalchini’s death in August 2015, two of her Girl Scouts, sisters Lois Shadrick and LaDonna Carr, made a donation to American Forests to plant 50 trees in honor of her love for camping and the great outdoors.

“We would go to Camp Butternut Springs every year and clean the trails and the vines off the trees,” said Shadrick of Downers Grove. “We’d name trees as we planted them and as I was looking for something timeless to honor Mrs. Cubalchini, I thought about those trees.”

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Virginia Cublachini was a longtime Girl Scout troop leader.

Her sister, who described Mrs. Cubalchini as the “epitome of a Girl Scout leader,” agreed.

“She taught us to enjoy your surroundings and take in the beauty of nature. Don’t take it for granted. Stop and look around and appreciate it,” Carr said.

Mrs. Cubalchini’s daughter, Virginia Williamson, who lives in Frankfort, was touched by the gesture.

“My mom was all about the environment and spending time outdoors before it was fashionable,” she remembered. “She was just a caring person, extremely sensitive and very friendly. She always wanted to be of service. She saw how Girl Scouts could shape girls’ lives and give them a support system.”

One of Mrs. Cubalchini’s Girl Scouts, Nancy Aguirre, even stepped up to be her caregiver while she was recovering from a medical emergency. The two spent several days a week together reliving fond Girl Scout memories and singing camp songs.

“It was an honor to give back to her and do something nice for her after she’d done so much for us,” said Aguirre, who lives in Park Forest. “This was one of those connections you never forget and you look back on as a very special lifelong friendship.”

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Virginia Cubalchini (turquoise shirt) pictured with members of her troop.
Carr, who lives in Aurora, credited Girl Scouts will helping her self-esteem.

“I didn’t talk a lot when I was younger, my sister did all the talking for me,” she said. “But I came into my own after I became a Brownie. Girls Scouts helped me come out of my shell and I blossomed.”

But perhaps the most important lesson Mrs. Cubalcihini taught her daughter as both a mom and a troop leader was to “be passionate.”

“She was a single parent who raised two daughters and had three jobs at the same time, yet she still found time to be there for her Girl Scouts and give,” said Williamson. “She just enjoyed it so much and gave of herself. You get so much back when you give and her life was a true testament to that.”

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13 thoughts on “Former Girl Scouts Honor Troop Leader

  1. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to L’Oreal Payton and the Girl Scout organization for honoring my Mother in this blog. THANK YOU for sharing Mom’s story of dedication, compassion and the belief that with support, guidance and respect, each girl can blossom into someone who can realize her unique potential and give back to family and her community to make this world a better place for all.

    THANK YOU to Lois and LaDonna for such an awesome tribute to Mom. I was blown away by this true honor and acknowledgement of this woman who always put others before herself. Mom would be so touched and proud to have been a part of your life.

    Who knew what journey she had started on when she brought my sister and me to our first Girl Scout meeting. Mom always said she felt SHE got MORE from her Girl Scouts and her Scouting experience then she gave, BUT Lois, La Donna and Nancy have shown me otherwise.

    Thank you to the Girl Scout organization, for the wonderful program you provide that opened up new worlds to me and gave me many new friends, opportunities and wonderful memories.

    Ginny Williamson

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    1. Thank you, Ginny, for entrusting us to share your mother’s story. It was truly a pleasure learning more about her and her passion, service and commitment to Girl Scouts. She fully epitomizes what it means to be a Girl Scout.

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  2. Ginny was my leader in the 1970’s, early 80’s and I will never forget her. I am in the cover photo at the top of the page, curly-hair with glasses on the right. Last year in April, my husband and I made the journey from Madison, WI to Crete to have dinner with her at Aerelios. We enjoyed our favorite pizza and sang Girl Scout songs together one last time. God bless her, she was like a 2nd Mom to me. She taught me SO much.

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    1. Laurie, Mom so enjoyed getting to see you (as well as sharing one of her favorite foods – pizza!), and we were so happy that both you, and Al, cared enough to visit and spend time again with her. She hung your personalized calendar in her apartment and we hung your hand painted bag on her wall as a reminder of you and your time together both past and present. Singing to the old GS songs, you put together on a CD, were a personal favorite activity we enjoyed on Friday nights when we brought (what else) pizza and a movie! Her favorite songs were ” Make New friends But Keep the Old” and “Taps” and we would always end the singing with “Good night Scouts”. Thank you again for appreciating and caring about Mom.

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      1. Thanks Virginia, She was a very important part of my growing up, almost like a 2nd Mom to me. I only just found out she passed on, the Christmas letter I send her in November came back in my mail yesterday. I am SO glad we had a chance to come back one last time before she became too ill to go out like we did. My grieving is beginning now, I will miss her a lot.

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  3. I didn’t meet Virginia until a couple of summers ago at Frankfort’s Concerts on the Green. Almost exactly a year ago we sat together at a Christmas performance of Handel’s “Messiah”. She sure did appreciate and enjoy music shows. One morning when she was in hospice doing very poorly and we thought her passing was imminent, a couple of us visitors began singing old hymns at her bedside, and we were stunned when she smiled, her eyes fluttered opened, and she began singing along with us! I think this is a really wonderful article, and I know her family must be incredible proud of this honor.

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    1. Mom looked forward to and attended the “Concerts on the Green” every Sunday w/ us for 10 years. We sang, laughed and even danced to the bands and always had a great time. This last season when we did not attend, due to her declining health, people inquired about her welfare and when the Concert Committee learned of her passing, they came to our home to tell us they had decided to pay tribute to her by DEDICATING the LAST song of the concert series to Mom in August! Another wonderful tribute to someone who always gave back to others.

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  4. Virginia was my aunt and she was a wonderful person. She was always kind, caring and loving from the time I was a child until her passing earlier this year. I am so glad she was a part of my family’s life and this tribute is very touching. Aunt Virginia made the world a better place and I miss not being able to see or talk to her.

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