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Virginia “Ginny” Mae Hill Hennes

Feb. 25, 1933 – April 12, 2024

Our well-loved mother, grandmother, aunt and friend passed away quietly on April 12, 2024 at the age of 91, in Seattle, WA. A Washington native and member of the Muckleshoot Tribe, she was born on Feb. 25, 1933 in Wapato, WA to James McCoy “Jim” Hill and Mildred Courville Hill. She lived in several Washington towns on both sides of the Cascades before graduating from Coulee Dam High School in 1951. She attended the University of Washington in Seattle, and was the first in her family to earn a degree when she graduated in 1955 with a journalism major. She met her life-long love, James D. “Jim” Hennes, while a freshman at UW, and they were married on June 18, 1955. For three years, Ginny and Jim were a Navy couple, with their last posting back in Seattle where two of their four children were born. After Jim left the Navy, they made their home in Boston, MA, Champaign, IL, Columbia, MO and Boulder, CO. Ginny continued to live in Boulder after Jim died in 1995 and returned to Seattle in 2013.

Ginny first learned about the Montessori method of education while living in Champaign, IL. She was an assistant at her son’s school and then became an AMS certified Montessori instructor. When Jim and Ginny moved to Columbia, MO, they helped found the Columbia Montessori School in 1967. Later they moved to Boulder, CO and helped found the Boulder Montessori School in 1974. In 1978, Jim and Ginny also collaborated with other Colorado Montessori educators to create the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, a program to train Montessori instructors. Ginny was an instructor and consultant and was instrumental in assisting several tribes create Montessori programs in their schools.

After Ginny retired from classroom teaching in 1995, she followed a long-time dream of traveling the world. She visited all the continents except Australia and Antarctica, and visited several countries as part of her teacher training career. She moved back to Seattle in 2013 and lived in Ravenna near her family.  

Ginny was preceded in death by her parents, Jim and Mildred, her husband Jim and his two brothers John and Ran. She is survived by her children Teresa Hennes (Salman) Aziz, Bryan Hennes, David (Leigh Anderson) Hennes and Mark Hennes. She is also survived by 7 grandchildren, one great-grandson and six nieces and nephews.   

A funeral mass will be held at 11:00 AM, Thurs., May 9, 2024 at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, 8900 35th Ave. N.E., Seattle WA with burial at 11:00 AM, Sat., May 11, 2024 at the Wapato Memorial Park, 5161 Wapato Rd., Wapato WA. The funeral mass will be streamed on YouTube at .  Donations in her memory can be made to the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies,


Thanks for the information about the upcoming services. I have so many wonderful memories of our traveling and times together as good friends. I will go up to Boulder Montessori with a check for $1,000 for Mecca to give scholarships in her name. Fonzie Betsy

Ginny was a major influence in the growth of Montessori education, providing vital encouragement and sharing her experience with new teachers and school founders. In addition to her leadership in Colorado she volunteered her knowledge and expertise nationally at the American Montessori Society. She served as chair of the AMS Review Committee and worked for the federal accreditation of Montessori teacher education programs through the the MACTE Commission. The AMS magazine
"Montessori Life" published a wonderful interview with her by Joy Turner in the Fall 2002 edition.

I am especially grateful to Ginny for her gentle mentoring when I succeeded her as MECR. Director. She was a role model of quiet integrity, determination and vision, and I hold warm memories of our relationship. My sincere condolences go to her family.

Dot Thompson

My heart goes out to Ginny's family at this time. Ginny had the warmest, most gentle heart that sought to change the world for as many children as she could--and in a quiet way she reached beyond borders. She and Jim worked together to accomplish many things, but after his death, she continued to contribute to Montessori education's growth in Colorado and the U.S.
Personally, Ginny touched my life at every step of my development, beginning with helping me as first time mother release my 2 1/2 year old daughter to her classroom at the brand new Boulder Montessori School . There was not yet a classroom to see, but sitting and talking with Ginny convinced me that Montessori was the place for us. Five years later she was my son's guide. He was lucky enough to attend one of the first preschool overnight campouts at her familiy's mountain cabin!
My path in Montessori, taken with encouragement from Ginny at each step, seems somehow inevitable. I was a parent volunteer, then employed as an assistant. I took the teacher training - how could I not when Ginny brought it to BMS?
Ginny also eased my way into teaching adult learners by inviting me to replace her in several classes as her role as director of MECR grew. I was especially honored to be the Practical Life instructor, because she was the Practical Life instructor in my training.
The last time I was with Ginny was at an AMS conference in San Diego a few years ago. I was happy to see her looking happy and healthy, enjoying retirement on the west coast north as I was in southern California.

Patty West

I was lucky to know Ginny and to have my life touched by her grace.

My earliest memories of women in my life were my mother, my grandmother and then Ginny. As my preschool teacher at Boulder Montessori School, I can still see her demonstrating how to tie and buckle my shoes and still know what it felt like to sit on her lap when she sang "Little Tommy, Little Mouse" (I never wanted my turn to end.)

She was a constant calm and supportive presence when my mother later worked at BMS and as I started to help out then work there myself. In college, Ginny hired me at MECR, helping me to get a scholarship to get my Montessori certification and then encouraging me to become an instructor myself, when I didn't think I could do it (I did it!).

I traveled across the country with Ginny when she was on the AMS training program accreditation team and when MECR conducted the 3-6 training program for in Ignacio, CO. In all the time spent with her, she was tirelessly kind and truly dedicated to the great work of helping children AND adults to reach their highest potential through the Montessori principles.

I am forever grateful for the guidance and opportunities Ginny gave me. She shaped the path of my life as I am sure she did for many. She has been and will forever be in my heart.

Jennifer (Schuschni) West

Ginny touched so many lives. Mine included.
She modeled for me (and for many others I'm sure) how to be present. How to observe. How to objectively observe. I can still see her standing there in the corner of the classroom, hardly moving. Then later, her be able to describe what she observed even it seemed what was going on behind her back. That was a great lesson, to become still. And fully present. A true Montessorian.
Thank you Ginny for the impact you had on my life. I will carry it with me always.

Donohue Shortridge

My love and condolences to Ginny's family and the many people who loved her.

I had the great privilege of working with Ginny at MECR for quite a few years. It was often just the two of us in a tiny office at Boulder Montessori School. I often brought my daughter to work with me, and she would sometimes sleep under my desk:)

The thing that amazes me about Ginny is how quietly she built SO many organizations that are still here today. She didn't ask for recognition. She just quietly built spaces and grew them and empowered so many Montessorians to go forth and help many many children. If there were a light attached to every child Ginny has effected in her work, we'd all be blinded. Her dedication and integrity were palpable, as was her warm kindness. I have such a special place in my heart for Ginny and I always will.

Susan Roth

I definitely want to add a tribute to our remarkable colleague and friend, Virginia Hennes. When folks contribute to an initiative like Montessori education, they usually help hold the form or they push the envelope and add innovative ideas. Our Ginny did both so well. She was so true to the traditions and at the same time she brought her cultural heritage to bear in bringing Montessori to reservations. I remember her saying how deeply one group of those amazing children would walk the line. It came so naturally to move quietly with grace and focus around the circle. It almost became a spiritual moment. She described it so vividly I still feel I can see their stillness.
She lived a truly meaningful life.
With warmth and appreciation,
Dee Coulter

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