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Priority: Service
Virginia McCoy, BS Business and Public Administration ’69

By Liz Warren-Pederson

Virginia McCoy '69

A self-proclaimed “professional
volunteer,” Virginia McCoy, BS
Business and Public
Administration ’69, is active in
helping out those in need.

Virginia (Jinny) McCoy started college thinking she’d go into teaching, but life ended up taking her in a very different direction. After graduating from high school in her native Columbus, Ohio, she entered Endicott College in Massachusetts.

Then, in her sophomore year, McCoy got a piece of advice from her own kindergarten teacher, with whom she was completing an internship. “She advised me that I didn’t have the patience to be a teacher,” she says. “I have always been grateful for that advice.”  She changed course and transferred to Arizona to study business at the UA.

It was a big adjustment. “There were 800 people in my high school and 600 people in my junior college,” she says, “So going to a place with 25,000 students blew my mind.”  McCoy nevertheless looks back fondly on her time at the UA. “God, I hope the school doesn’t keep records on grades forever,” she says with a laugh. “I really did get a lot more out of my courses than the grades would suggest.”

After graduation, she moved to Kansas City to work as a secretary with an investment firm, B. C. Christopher & Company. “When I moved to Kansas City, I had four friends,” she says. “Four months later, I was hosting a party for 75.”

She’d found her home, and started to get involved in the community. Her career began to take off, as well. “I was doing a lot more than secretarial work,” she says, “And one year the SEC came in and said that I needed to be licensed as a stockbroker, so I took the required courses and became licensed.” It was an unusual career path for a woman in the early 1970s. “I didn’t get married until I was 45,” McCoy says. “At parties my girlfriends were talking about their children and I was talking to their husbands about business.”

By the late 70s, she grew tired of living on commission and joined Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, first as the office manager of the general office servicing western Missouri in Kansas City, then working for an agent in Kansas office.

“I started my own business in the late 1980s,” she says. “My friends’ parents were starting to retire and they missed having a secretary or an accountant to help keep things running, so it was a way to offer them a service through bookkeeping and things like filing Medicare claims.”

McCoy is now retired from the business world and calls herself a “professional volunteer.” “When you’re working, you only have so many hours to give,” she says. Much of her volunteer work comes through her involvement with the Junior League; she has served on the boards of Park University and Marietta College, and has given her time to numerous organizations, including Friends of the Aquarium, Saint Luke’s Northland Hospital, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and the Salvation Army. Last year, Park University recognized her with its Torchlight Award for contributions to the institution by a non-alumnus.

“My dad always said two things,” she explains. “One is that education is the most important thing you’ll do for yourself, and that the more education you have, the better off you’ll be. Never stop learning.   Two, you have to teach someone to give.” McCoy learned by example: she credits her parents’ dedication to volunteering as the impetus for its priority in her own life.

“I’ve always just hoped that the organization was in better shape after my involvement.” she says.