Obituary : Virginia M. Early
Virginia M. Early died on March 26 at Long Hill in Edgartown. She was 97 and had been in failing health for several years.
Virginia (née Virginia Maury Flannery), the oldest daughter of Isabel Gautier Gregory Flannery and John Spalding Flannery, Sr., was born and raised in Washington D.C. Her father was the private attorney for six Supreme Court justices including Oliver Wendell Holmes and served as special master in the multi-state inheritance tax case of Colonel Edward Howland Robinson "Ned" Green, son of Hetty Green, who was known as the "Witch of Wall Street." Virginia was descended from John Walker Maury, once Mayor of the City of Washington, and related to Matthew Fontaine Maury, called "Pathfinder of the Seas" for his work mapping coastal waters.
Virginia attended The Potomac School and The Madeira School in Washington and graduated from Vassar College in 1933. Returning to Washington D.C., she worked tirelessly as a volunteer in the Junior League, rising to a position as First Vice President of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Placement Committee during WWII. In this role, she oversaw placing women in paid and volunteer jobs related to the war effort from anti-aircraft patrol to the Casualty Information Service to civil defense. She also coordinated volunteers who staffed hospitals, the Red Cross and the Travelers' Aid Society, as well as programs for the wounded and their families, children, and the poor.
Virginia met her future husband, Thomas G. Early, in Washington D.C. where he was secretary of the Civil Aeronautics Board and was involved in building Washington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan Airport). A colonel in the Army Air Corps (the precursor to the United States Air Force), Tom served under General William "Wild Bill" Donovan in what became the Office of Strategic Services. Virginia and Tom's marriage was delayed while Tom carried out OSS missions in Africa and Italy until 1944 when he was able to schedule a leave. Soon thereafter, Virginia accompanied Tom to San Francisco where he helped organize the United Nations Conference on International Organization that drew up the United Nations Charter.
Tom and Virginia settled in Old Greenwich, Conn., where they raised five children. She was active in the PTA, the Junior League and Garden Club of Greenwich and tutored local children in reading and French, in which she was fluent. When her children were all off to college, she worked at The American Institute for Foreign Study.