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Zealous animal advocate dies at 78

For those who knew her, Virginia "Ginny" Denton was a tireless champion for Hernando County's unwanted pets.

Mrs. Denton, founder and president of Compassion Spay/Neuter Inc., died Saturday (Jan. 24, 2004) at Oak Hill Hospital of complications from pneumonia. She was 78.

Through her organization, Mrs. Denton helped provide funds for the sterilization of thousands of companion animals.

"What we will do is basically what Virginia did," said Andrea Trusty, who co-founded the organization in 1999. "This was something she believed in very strongly and we intend to honor that by continuing her work."

Despite the hurdles inherent in such an undertaking, Mrs. Denton was determined to help curb Hernando County's stray population and prevent the suffering of unwanted animals, Trusty said.

"She was a very good-hearted person," said Trusty, who knew Mrs. Denton for more than a decade. "She not only cared about animals, but for people as well."

Mrs. Denton's son, Tom, remembers friends hanging out on the front porch of their Ohio home when he was growing up.

"Adopting all our friends may have been the beginnings of her work with animals," he said. "She was a very generous person."

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y, Mrs. Denton moved to Brooksville from Parma, Ohio, 22 years ago after she retired as a merchandising manager for a greeting card company.

During her years in Hernando County, Mrs. Denton became known for her volunteer work at Oak Hill Hospital, Stage West Community Playhouse and with the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program.

She also served as a eucharistic minister at St. Anthony Catholic Church, where she was a member.

"She did so much for everything and everybody," said Betty Hine, an administrative assistant at Brookridge, where Mrs. Denton lived with her husband, James. "She did so much that no one can even remember it all. She was just such a great lady."

Though she never reached her goal of spaying or neutering every pet in the county, her husband says it is important that her work continue.

"Ever since I've known her, we've had animals," said Denton, who married his wife in 1947 after a two-week courtship. "They are something that we both love very much and so there's no question about whether to keep Compassion going. We will."

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Denton is survived by two sons, Jim, of Grover Beach, Calif., and Tom, of Parma, Ohio; a daughter, Terri Wolf, of St. Clair Shores, Mich.; a brother, John F. Hamje of Dallas, Texas and six grandchildren.

A memorial Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Anthony Catholic Church. Donations may be made to Compassion Spay/Neuter Inc., 14484 Brookridge Blvd., Brooksville 34613.

_ Joy Davis-Platt can be reached at (352) 848-1435. Send e-mail to joysptimes.com.

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