James Di Virgilio, a retired educator who had been director of Howard County middle schools, died of heart failure Sept. 5 at a hospice in Cumming, Ga. The former Ellicott City resident was 81.
Dr. Di Virgilio was born and raised in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and during World War II he served with the Navy Seabees in the Pacific.
In 1950, he earned a bachelor's degree in education and subsequently a master's degree, both from Temple University. He returned to Temple to earn his doctorate in eduction in 1963.
He began his teaching career in 1950 in Cecil County public schools and was promoted to principal of a 500-student elementary, junior and senior high school.
In 1956, Dr. Di Virgilio joined the faculty of what is now Salisbury State University, where he taught education for seven years. From 1963 until 1966, he was principal of the American School in Manila, the Philippines.
He joined Howard County's public schools in 1966 as supervisor of middle schools, later becoming director until retiring in 1982.
He also had been an adjunct professor of education at the University of Virginia and George Washington University.
Dr. Di Virgilio had been executive secretary of Clearing House, an education magazine, and was a founder, director and president of the Middle School Association. He was a co-founder of the Chesapeake Theological Training Center, and in 1990 established Chapelgate Christian Academy in Marriottsville.
Dr. Di Virgilio moved to Cumming in 2002.
He had been a member of Chapelgate Presbyterian Church in Marriottsville, where services were held Saturday.
Surviving are his wife of 50 years, the former Carolyn Haines; two sons, James Douglas Di Virgilio of Sarasota, Fla., and Jonathan D. Di Virgilio of Phoenix, Baltimore County; a daughter, Elizabeth Anne Adams of Cumming; and seven grandchildren.