The Life of Virginia Sembrowich McDonnell

ANSONIA, CT: Virginia Vera McDonnell of Ansonia, entered into peaceful rest on January 11, 2018 at the Griffin Hospital, Derby. She was 95 years of age. Born in Seymour on January 2, 1923, Virginia was the daughter of the late Louis and Tessie (Felenchak) Sembrowich. Virginia was a graduate of Seymour High School, Class of 1940. She was employed as a clerk typist at the former Uniroyal factory, Naugatuck, and later at Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford. Virginia was the beloved wife of 36 years of the late James J. McDonnell. To those who knew and loved her, she was Vera. She was shy and athletic as a child, very smart, and she loved to read. She instilled that love of reading into her four children at an early age, and that love of reading stays with us to this day. It is too simple to say she loved her family. It was her passion to raise her children right. With her husband James, they taught their children by example the meaning of courage and responsibility. Together, always together, Vera and James nurtured their children, encouraging them to have dreams and goals but with the knowledge that everything in life comes with a price. Dreams require hard work, while courage often demands standing for one's principles regardless of the opinions of naysayers. Vera was our Mom, and she was the center , the core of our family. She was an excellent cook who loved to decorate our home and entertain family and friends during the holidays. She loved a good conversation, not a yelling match, good senses of humor and travel to places she had read about, but had never seen. She was adventurous and fun as heck, but she did not suffer fools lightly. She and James passed those qualities on to their children. How can you beat a Mom like that? The answer is, you can't. Vera's love for her family is only exceeded by the love her children have for her. She is missed beyond description. We love and miss you Mom. Vera leaves behind a loving family, including her daughter Maureen McDonnell of Ansonia with whom she resided, her son, John M. McDonnell (Cathy) of Lutz, FL, her grandchildren, James, Dennis, Victoria, Michael, Sarah, and Courtney, her great granddaughter, Violet, and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by sons, James J. and Dennis P. McDonnell, brothers John, Walter and Elmer Sembrowich, and sister Zora Hudson. A Memorial Service of Requiem Eucharist will be celebrated on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. in Trinity Episcopal Church, 91 Church St., Seymour. Interment will be in Pine Grove Cemetery, Ansonia. There are no calling hours. Memorial Gifts may be sent to the USO, P.O. Box 96860, Washington, DC 20077. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Ralph E. Hull Funeral Home, 161 W. Church St., Seymour. For directions and to share a memory online, go to

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