Gloria Gorecki Thisdell, a prodigious knitter who created Christmas hats for Greene County Elementary School kindergarteners for 33 years, died Dec. 9, 2022, at age 96.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, Gloria remained a cheery Midwesterner despite living most of her life in Virginia. Her “Can Do” attitude and repeated assertion that “Everything’s fine” helped her through the joys and challenges of raising 6 children with the love of her life, Robert who she married in 1950.
With her brood safely in school, Gloria joined the tide of women entering the workforce in the late ‘60s. She was a secretary – a title she proudly embraced – with Virginia mental health services and the College of William and Mary’s School of Education. Gloria and Robert traveled extensively. Some of her favorite places were New Orleans, Holland, and Bruges, Belgium.
Now about the knitting. Gloria learned the skill during World War II, making socks for servicemen. When her daughter Margot – known as Mrs. Bologna to several generations– began teaching in Greene County in the late ‘70s, Gloria began knitting hats for Christmas presents for her kindergarten students. She spread the tradition when her daughter-in-law, Amy Thisdell, began teaching in Roanoke. Gloria made hats for Greene County children for 33 years and for Roanoke children for 29 years. On top of that, she knitted box after box of sweaters for Red Cross disaster relief and volunteered in Mrs. Bologna’s classroom, helping children create Christmas ornaments and lavender-stuffed Valentine’s presents for their mommies.
Gloria created a huge family on this earth, leaving her children Jay Thisdell and his wife, Julie; Katherine Petersen and her late husband, Eric; Margot and her husband Sal Bologna, all of Greene County; Roberta Vowell and her husband, Earl, of Virginia Beach; and John Thisdell and his wife, Amy, of Roanoke. She is preceded in death by her husband, Robert, and their brilliant but short-lived son Larry. She is survived by a sister, Claudia Bodine of Milwaukee WI.
Grandchildren and great-grandchildren include Justin Thisdell of Waynesboro (Lucy); Jennifer and husband Blake Garfield of Troy (Molly and Cole); Michael Thisdell and wife Aracely of Ruckersville (Jason, Fernando, Lily and Lindsay); Joseph Bologna of Greene County; Tyler Bologna of Perry, Ga. (Logan and Ella Rose); Katie Thisdell and husband Tom Dibble of Amsterdam (Anna and Connor); Emily Thisdell and husband Chris Condon of New York City and Daniel Vowell and wife Hunter Haynie of Detroit.
A memorial service is being planned for after the holidays.