Tia Scigulinsky of Portsmouth RI died 22 May 2022 in Newport Hospital. She was born Grietje Jantina Kenau Nieuwenhuis in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on 3 October 1942 during the Nazi occupation. In 1954 her family immigrated to Seattle and when she became a citizen, she chose the name Tia. Graduating from Garfield High, the most successfully integrated school in the country at the time, she frequently let people know that Jimi Hendrix was one of her classmates. During her first year at the University of Washington she met her future husband, Ken and they were married a year later, in 1962. She graduated with a BA in History and Education in 1964. Thirty years later she would receive a master’s degree in Education from Salve Regina University. As the wife of a naval officer she accompanied Ken to his many duty stations and was able to teach in WA, CA, VA, Naples Italy and Newport, RI. She loved her twenty eight year career as a teacher of European History at Rogers High in Newport, retiring as Chair of the Social Studies Department. The respect, relationship and admiration of her students was demonstrated when she was honored by delivering the commencement address for the class of 2007.
During her tenure at Rogers High School she traveled for many years with students to Europe during the spring break, motivating many of them to become fervent travelers. Every year after her retirement she continued to organize and lead European travel for a close group of friends, building many wonderful memories visiting over 50 countries. For five years she was the president of the Teachers Association of Newport (TAN) advocating for work and benefit issues, once even being labeled a militant leader during a teachers’ union strike. Years after retirement she continued to receive calls from teachers asking assistance for contractual issues. Callers knew she was reliable and could be depended upon to provide accurate answers to their questions about benefits and rights. Concurrent with her role as an educator, she served on the Board of Directors of the RI National Education Association (NEA). On the national level she was the NEA Chair of Women and Children Issues and represented the organization at the United Nations National Commission of Women in 2005.
Tia always had time for tending her flower gardens and enjoyed sharing the flowers with others. She even had a large cabinet used only to store flower vases. She loved her 5 grandsons and whenever she met with them, she insisted having a group picture taken. Although she sometimes cooked in the simple Dutch style she liked to venture into new territory, going through her large collection of cookbooks for interesting recipes for Ken to try. She enjoyed hosting dinner parties and took pride in setting her table for entertaining. She had 20 sets of dinner plates to work with. Her everyday plates were attuned to the holidays or the season. Tia read 2 books a week, usually romance or crime novels. Her practice was to read the first chapter followed by the last chapter to see if she would like the book.
She loved Classical music sometimes playing it as background while she taught history classes. But she also loved attending live concerts of rock, jazz, and country at the Narrows Center for the Arts.
After retirement she became active in AARP and held many positions including 5 years as president of Rhode Island Retired Teachers and 5 years as RI AARP Chapter #207 president. She continued to chair the RI State Legislative Committee and lobbied in the State House and Congress for both the NEA and AARP.
She was a trustee of the Portsmouth Library; a volunteer with Newport Film; Newport Music Festival director of volunteers for over 20 years; Naval War College foreign officer family sponsor, executive member of the Partnership for Families and Children; Child and Family volunteer and secretary and board member of RI PBS (WSBE). Recognition for her service include twice being named volunteer of the year for sponsorship of foreign officer families during their one year attendance at the Naval War College and being named RI volunteer of the year by AARP in 2020.
Tia is survived by her husband of 59 years Kenneth F. Scigulinsky of Portsmouth, RI: their son Kenneth M. Scigulinsky and his wife Christina of West Hartford, CT; their daughter Elise M. Plumb and her husband Jeffrey Plumb of Portsmouth, RI; and grandsons Jackson and Owen Scigulinsky and Matthew, Joshua, and William Plumb. She leaves her brother Luurt Nieuwenhuis and his wife Jeanette of Vancouver, WA.
A memorial service will be held at United Congregational Church, 524 Valley Road, Middletown at 2:30 PM on Wednesday June 1, 2022
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a local organization of your choice.
Additional information at www.memorialfuneralhome.com