Virginia Anne (Hyland) Peel


NORTON, MA — Virginia Anne Hyland Peel died peacefully on Friday, March 29, 2019 at the age of 99, surrounded by family. Recently moved to Norton, MA, Virginia had resided in Rome, NY for more than 50 years. 

Virginia was born on August 16, 1919 in Winchester, MA to Capt. John J. Hyland (USN) and Josephine M. (Walker) Hyland. She is pre-deceased by her siblings, Mary Hyland, MSW, Retired Admiral John J. Hyland, Jr.(USN) and Retired Captain William Hyland (USN).

In 1941, Virginia received her BA from The College of New Rochelle. An accomplished vocalist with a lovely singing voice, she was a finalist on Major Bowes Amateur Hour (a popular radio program in New York City). After college, she was employed at New England Telephone Company.

When World War II broke out, Virginia answered America’s call to arms. Having grown up in a celebrated Naval family, she graduated in the first class of WAVES from Smith College, serving from 1942 to 1946. Lieutenant Hyland was a Communications Officer at the Boston Navy Yard, de-coding classified messages and troupe movements, charting the North Atlantic fleet. During her service with the Navy, Virginia met Army Captain Arthur Peel at the officer’s club in Boston, MA. He quickly became the love of her life. They were married in October 1946 until his death in 1990.

After the war, the Peels settled in Wolcott, CT where they designed and built their home and raised their five children. During that time, Virginia began her career as a librarian. In 1965, Arthur took a position with Revere Copper and Brass and the family moved to Rome, NY. Virginia became the children’s librarian in the Annsville/McConnell school district. She obtained her Masters degree in Library Science from Syracuse University in 1975, at age 55. After retiring from the school system, she took a part time job at Jervis Public Library in Rome where she worked until she was 87. She continued to volunteer at Jervis until June 2018 when she moved from Rome to Norton, MA to be closer to her family. 

During her time in Rome, Virginia was an active member of the Lake Delta Yacht Club and the Military Officers’ Association of America. She participated in the Wednesday Morning Club, the Rome TWIG and many events at the Copper City Community Connection (formerly Ava Dorfman Center). She volunteered at Rome Hospital, provided transportation for senior citizens to medical appointments and was an avid bridge player. She was known in NY and CT for “Virginia Peel’s Real Cream Fudge”, a small cottage business she started to help with the expense of raising five children. She continued to gift friends and family with her famous fudge and homemade fruit cake for the remainder of her life. 

She was predeceased by her husband, Arthur Ray Peel, and her youngest son William Hubbard Peel. She is survived by four children, Anne DeShields and her husband Brooks Thompson of Brewster, MA; Arthur Ray Peel, Jr. (Butch) and his wife Sally of Breckenridge, CO; Bonnie Peel of Plymouth, MA; and Virginia Demers-Peel and her wife Deborah of Norton, MA. She is also survived by nine grandchildren, Erik DeShields, Alex DeShields, Rebecca Peel, Morgan Peel, Anna Freedman-Peel, Ben Freedman-Peel, Seth Freedman-Peel, Evan Demers-Peel and his wife Catriona McGinley, Meaghan Demers-Peel; and one great-grandson, Salvatore Mendola. In addition, she is survived by nieces, nephews and cousins.

At Virginia’s request, calling hours have been omitted. A Mass of Christian Burial with Full Military Honors will be celebrated on Friday, April 5, at 11 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church, 1 Power Street, Norton, MA. Interment will be in St. John’s Cemetery, Old Saybrook, CT in the Hyland family plot on Saturday, April 6, at 1 p.m. 

Contributions in her memory may be made to Jervis Public Library, 613 North Washington Street, Rome, NY 13440.

Arrangements are under the care and direction of the Sherman & Jackson Funeral Home, 55 North Main St., Mansfield. 

To send her family a message of condolence, please visit 


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