Virginia Roth Saenger

A Fond Tribute

It is with great fondness that the WFLT pays tribute to Virginia Roth Saenger, 71, who passed away suddenly on January 27, 2003, from complications of multiple myeloma. Until February 2002, Virginia served as President of West Farms Land Trust. Several significant trust successes accomplished during her direction will benefit area residents for generations to come.

As a young woman in New York City, Virginia majored in zoology at Hunter College. Upon her graduation in 1953 she married R. Alfred Saenger. The couple, along with their three daughters, lived in the Bronx until 1972, when they moved to Waterford. Soon after their arrival, Virginia began work at the Waterford Town Tax Collectors Office, where she continued until her retirement in 1997.

Virginia had a quiet, efficient style of leadership, where she balanced an ability to encourage initiative, delegate responsibility and quietly do the “behind the scenes” practical work to get things done without ever drawing attention to herself. She had a firm commitment to community service as evidenced by her years of service with the WFLT, as well as the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters, and the Democratic Town Committee. Over the years Virginia held a number of positions in these service groups, including the presidency of the West Farms Land Trust.

WFLT board member Sally Taylor loves to recall Virginia’s famous multi-compartmental purse, full of information she might need for any of her favorite causes. She recounts, “One day we were at a town meeting regarding land use and open space. Virginia startled me out of my boots by whipping a zoning map of the Town of Waterford from the depths of that incredible archive. She was very pleased with herself to see me so startled by her amazing portable filing cabinet. In fact, the event became a standing joke between us. Virginia was very funny, but quietly so – that was her sense of humor.”

The past few years under Virginia’s leadership brought many exciting developments for the WFLT. We were recipients of 18 beautiful acres in Montville, overlooking the Thames River, a gift from Gertrude Minson and Grace Cole. A gift of land on Bloomingdale Rd. from Mildred Devine and her late sister, Kathleen Devine, became a valued part of the land trust holdings. We also received approval for a matching funds grant of $90,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection to help purchase the 34 acre New Avery Tract in Quaker Hill, off Route 32. Several town events such as the annual Waterford Week Parade and the Waterford Historical Society’s “Perambulating the Boundaries of Waterford” saw participation by the trust due to her influence. In addition, the trust developed its web site, established a partnership with Leave A Legacy, and continued ongoing efforts to develop a network of trail systems on some of the trust properties. In all these efforts, even while many board members played a vital role, Virginia provide the vision, over site and legwork necessary to ensure that both the “large picture” and the “behind the scenes” details were quietly and efficiently completed.

Virginia was loved by all for her balanced judgment, unfailing sense of humor, and gracious, generous support to so many worthy causes. She will be remembered and truly missed.

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