Virginia “Bimbetta” F MacVeagh
Mrs. Lincoln MacVeagh (Coats—Virginia “Bimbetta” Ferrante di Ruffano) died on April 13, 2014, at home in Cazenovia, NY.
Born on September 12, 1916, in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, she was the daughter of Marchese and Marchesa Agostino Ferrante di Ruffano (Virginia Cameron MacVeagh). Her maternal great-uncle Charles MacVeagh was President Calvin Coolidge’s ambassador to Japan (1925-29), her maternal great-great-uncle Franklin MacVeagh was President William Howard Taft ’s secretary of the treasury (1909-13), and her maternal great-great-uncle Wayne MacVeagh was attorney general in President James A. Garfield’s cabinet (1881) and U.S. ambassador to Italy (1893-1897). On her father’s side, the Ferrantes are an old Italian family which established itself in Southern Italy in the 13th century, rose to prominence and was ennobled by the king of Spain in 1731. Her grandfather Marchese Stanislao Ferrante di Ruffano became the European ambassador for the last king of Naples in 1890. Her father served as consul general of Italy in several countries before eventually retiring as ambassador. Her brother Marchese Antonio Ferrante di Ruffano fought in the Second World War and was decorated for military valor by the King of Italy, Umberto II, in 1946.
Bimbetta accompanied her father, her mother and four siblings to his many diplomatic postings, including Istanbul, Boston, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Sydney, and finally to Dresden in 1938. Bimbetta married Archibald J. Coats on April 27, 1939, in Frankfurt. While he was fighting in World War II in the Sudan, she moved from England to Cazenovia, where she lived with her great friends Anna B. and Walter Oakman from 1940 to 1945. Bimbetta and Archie Coats were separated in 1948 and divorced in 1950.
In 1952 Bimbetta moved with her three children, Dawn, Gloria and Colin, and their nanny, Janet S. Spratling, to Madrid, where she visited Lincoln MacVeagh, at the time U.S. ambassador to Spain. Following his retirement they resided in Estoril, Portugal, to which country he had also been U.S. ambassador, in addition to Greece, Iceland, Yugoslavia and South Africa. They were married in Estoril in 1955. After Lincoln’s death in 1972, Bimbetta visited Kenya in 1974 with her great friend Anna B. Oakman of The Meadows, Cazenovia, on one of her frequent lengthy safaris, where she then remained, residing in Nairobi and Malindi for 16 years with her dear friend Bill Ryan. Following Bill Ryan’s death in 1988, she returned to Cazenovia in 1989, and since 2008 has lived in the house her son, Colin, purchased when he moved in 2008 to Cazenovia from Manhattan to take care of her.
Virginia is survived by her children, Dawn Reynolds of Guelph, Canada, Gloria MacVeagh Richings of London, and Colin L. MacVeagh of New York and Cazenovia; her grandchildren, Catharine Reynolds Hamilton, Laurence Reynolds, Charles Reynolds, Francis Reynolds, Prisca Reynolds Wylie, Dominic Richings and Francis MacVeagh Richings; and her great-grandchildren, Alexander and Charles Hamilton, Samuel and Mateo Bancod Reynolds, and Findlay, Lochlan and Paloma Wylie.
Bimbetta was predeceased by many close friends in Cazenovia and elsewhere around the world. Her vivacious spirit, determination never to give in, her sense of humor and her smile made her lasting friends wherever she went. She will be sorely missed by her remaining friends and family.