Virginia Rood McInnis taught physical education for 25 years in Manatee County, but “Miz Mac,” as she was known at Bradenton and Walker Junior High, was more than a gym teacher, basketball coach and cheerleading sponsor.
“She was like a mother to junior high girls, an influence on them in a critical point of their lives,” said Nancy Griffith, her daughter who also was a teacher for 31 years.
“Young girls came to trust her and they maintained contact with her over all these years.”
Mrs. McInnis died April 11. She was 93.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, where she worshipped for 83 years and was honored on its 125th anniversary as its oldest member.
Yet Mrs. McInnis, a Bradenton native, remained young at heart.
“Up until a few years ago, she swam three times a week. Her goal was to swim 100 miles in the pool at Freedom Village. She made 50,” Griffith said. “She was busy, played bingo, bridge and kept involved, It kept her healthy.”
So did the enduring affection and respect of former students, long after Mrs. McInnis retired from Manatee High in the 1960s.
Take it from Jean Parrish, a fellow 1935 Bradenton High alum, who taught 37 years.
“It’s wonderful to have students to like you enough to keep in touch with you,” she said of Mrs. McInnis. “They’ve been great to her. That doesn’t happen for everyone.”
Tina Crawford, a longtime friend of Mrs. McInnis, agreed.
“Virginia was absolutely the most unselfish person I’ve ever known,” she said. “She was always doing for someone else -- her grandmother and mother, her children, other people’s children, her students. Just a wonderful gal.”
Altruism ran in the family.
Her husband, Marion “Mac” or “Snooks” McInnis, was the first director of the Boys Club of Manatee County.
Her older brother, Edward, an attorney and oil investor, helped bring Tampa Bay its NFL team in the mid-1970s.
Her younger brother, Joe Bill, served as a state representative and state senator.
Mrs. McInnis was remembered, too, for “Nana’s Camp.”
For two weeks every summer, she’d hold organized activities for her four grandchildren, including crafts, trips to the museum and beach.
“My mother was very hands on,” Griffith said.
Nancy Griffith’s son, Scott, remembers the Easter egg hunts his grandmother had at her home.
He also kept the Christmas ornaments he made under her guidance and uses them for his own family’s Christmas tree.
“Nana was a wonderful woman,” Scott Griffith said. “I’d love to have touched half as many people as she did in her lifetime.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.