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Virgil and Helen Farrington Shilling


Virgil L Shilling was born the first of six children In January 06. He grew up in Youngstown then the family moved to Greene, settling later just past the bridge In the middle of what now is Mosquito Lake. He earned his degree at Western College in Lima then taught manual training in Mecca and driving a kid wagon, the precursor to school buses. While teaching in Mecca he met Helen Farrington where they wed in 1927.

Helen Farrington was the eldest of four children. She was born in Cardington Ohio in February 1905. Her father owned the town grocery, so on her school lunch time and after school, she helped him in the store. Her fondest childhood memory was playing the piano with him listening at her side. She went to Ohio Wesleyan for two years earning a teaching certificate and going to Mecca to teach where she met Virgil.

The newlyweds took a trip all over the West which was nice: however, he’d had an opportunity to go to Hawaii, but his parents didn’t want him to go so this was the next best trip. They moved to Lordstown where he again taught manual training, and she had their first child, Robert. Soon they moved to Gustavus for a teaching position where they had their other two children, Janice and John. in 1937 they bought 137 Market Street for $1,900. There was no power or water but when the WPA put sewer and water in town, he shoveled by hand, from the road to the house, a six-foot-deep trench to have water in the house.

While her children were small, Helen was a member of CCL and WSCS plus being treasurer of the Cortland Methodist Church. She was also a member of Home Extension so was sent as a representative to England for that, traveling on the ocean liner, The Queen Mary. Douglas Fairbanks was also on that trip and Laurltz Melchior sang. She had to borrow money from her insurance but Virgil felt this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. She spoke in NYC about Home Extension sharing the platform w/Eleanor Roosevelt.

When her children were in school, Helen returned to teaching, first In Gustavus then In Cortland, teaching English and Latin plus sponsoring Beta Club and directing the Jr. and Sr. Plays. (This was before teachers were paid for these extra curriculars) She also finished her degree at Youngstown State, while teaching plus attending to her family, graduating in 1944. She retired to care for her mother. She was always close with her family though more by mail and infrequent visits as they lived away from Trumbull Co.


She could remember all her students, including which class they were in and their fellow classmates. Many came to visit after her retirement, much to her Joy.

Mr. and Mrs. Shilling were wonderful parents, siblings, and children. Both served their communities in many different ways.

Virgil was very active in politics all his life so many officials spent time visiting him. He was also one of the founders of the Cortland Conservation Club and the Arboretum in Hartford which Is now the property of Youngstown State. He tried to join the armed services, even trying political influence, but they said his age was against him. He was a member of Civil Defense but was always a little ashamed that he didn’t serve the country he loved so much.

While he was mayor of Cortland (1944 /1946) two allotments were added to Cortland so the maps of these were often on our living room floor. He was also on the Water Board and Planning Commissions.

He was very close to his family, especially his brother Harold who lived on the next street. All the families went to the parents’ house on Sunday afternoons for wonderful visits.

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