Virginia Fortney

Celebration of Life

10:00 am
Saturday, January 6, 2024
Village At Penn State
The Lion's Den
State College, Pennsylvania, United States

Obituary of Virginia Lorraine Fortney

Virginia Lorraine Fortney, of State College, PA, passed away on Friday December 29, 2023. Born September 15, 1934, she was the daughter of the late Dr. Millard Hunter Fortney and Vivian Marie Rennels of Arcola, Illinois. The younger sister of four older brothers, Virginia learned grit, determination and strong self-defense skills at an early age.

Virginia graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in Physical Education and Biology. She began her teaching career at both the elementary and high school levels. Virginia furthered her education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her M.S. in Physical Education. She was glad to leave the frigid winters of Madison to begin her academic career at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) in 1974.

While serving as an Assistant Professor in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development, Virgina relied on her pluck and determination to earn a Ph.D. in Physical Education and Child Development at Purdue University.

Virginia's research at Penn State ranged from studying the motor skills of children to analyzing the biomechanics of athletes, especially U.S. Olympic vaulters. She was also a faculty affiliate of the Penn State Gerontology Center. Virginia retired from Penn State in 1999 after 25 years of service.

Virginia was a fun-loving person who greatly enjoyed life outside of academia. Virginia was a passionate bird watcher and traveled extensively to add new birds to her life list. Her passion was shared by the other members of her birdwatcher's group as they traveled many times across the country and internationally in pursuit of their next new bird sighting and fun together. Virginia moved to the Village at Penn State in 2005, where she found many good friends and enjoyed walking with her beloved dog Sammy. Virginia was once referred to as a "spunky old gal" by her great nephew. That sums up her style perfectly.

Virginia was loved by many, including her twelve nieces and nephews, Donald Fortney of Milwaukee, WI; James Fortney of Roswell, GA; Renee Gottwald of Fort Myers, FL; Benji Fortney (deceased) of Arcola, IL; Jeri Fortney White of Las Vegas, NE; Joseph Fortney of Hindsboro, IL; David Fortney of McLean, VA; Joan Fortney Niderberg of Spotsylvania, VA; Mark Fortney of Waukesha, WI; Marsha Hershey of Taylorville, IL; Michael Fortney of Monticello, IL; and Tamara Fortney of Eureka, CA. Virginia is also survived by her sister-in-law, Patricia Fortney of Arcola, IL and numerous great nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her four brothers Millard Hunter Fortney, Jr., James Pickering Fortney, William Robert Fortney, and Joseph Hugh Fortney.

Virginia will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

We will celebrate Virginia's life on Saturday, January 6, 2024 at the Village at Penn State. The celebration will begin at 10:00 a.m. in The Lion's Den. All of Virginia's friends are invited to attend.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Virginia's memory may be made to two organizations that Virginia supported – the Centre LifeLink EMS ( or to the State College Food Bank (

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