Canning vegetables, skinning foxes, farming, two-mile walks to school: those were just a few things that were part of growing up on a 180-acre farm near Big Rapids, Michigan for Virginia F. This farm was the foundation of the family. The deed to the homestead was signed by Ulysses S. Grant to her Grandpa back in the 1800’s. It consisted of a log cabin and 180 acres of corn, hay, oats and wheat. Her grandfather and father built the house that the family lived in.
Virginia (Gini) was the eldest of three daughters. Shortly after the birth of Gini’s youngest sister, her mother passed. There was a lot of support in raising the three little girls, each a year apart, by her uncle and “Auntie.” The girls were quite active on the farm with chores including harvesting and canning crops, raising livestock like cows and pigs for butchering. Theyven raised silver fox for furs during the late 1920s through the 40s.
Graduating third in her class, Gini was awarded a scholarship to Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, but she decided it was too close to home. So, she enrolled at Davenport Institute in Grand Rapids. After her first year, a friend told her about opportunities for government jobs in Washington, DC. That was very attractive to Gini and she immediately signed up to take the civil service test, convincing her sister, Barbara to do the same. Soon the two sisters were boarding the train in Detroit and headed for Washington, DC. There were lot of firsts: traveling out of state, staying in a hotel, meeting southern girls. After settling into a group home, Barbara went to work for the Bureau of Ships and Gini was assigned to the Bureau of Aeronautics (of which she could not even spell). She loved the work. Fun fact: her next-door office mate was John Glenn!
In 1958, Gini’s coworker moved to London, England for a job opportunity and often wrote to Gini about how wonderful it was. Gini applied for an opening at the Military Attaché’s Office in London and was chosen for the transfer. Before she knew it, she had a passport and shots and was packed up for her two-year trip to England. She ended staying for much longer, and even spent 3 years at the American Embassy in Turkey.
It was there she met USAF Msgt Oscar “Joe” F. They were married by a Turkish judge and an American Chaplin. They soon moved with Joe’s daughter, Kathleen, to Edwards AFB in California. Joe retired from the service and worked for the USPS. Gini worked for the Army Facility on base and retired in 1989. After retirement, they lived in Kentucky for a bit and then moved to San Antonio, TX, where Kathleen was living at the time. Gini’s husband Joe passed in 2009.
Last March, Gini was encouraged to move to Maryland where her niece Cindy and nephew Eric lived. So, she packed up the car and grandnephew Hunter drove her and her dog, Lilee, to Kensington Park. Gini and Lilee settled in at KP on the very first day of our Covid-19 lockdown. Bad timing for sure, but as we turn the corner into some normalcy, Gini will be delighted with all that KP REALLY has to offer!
Gini is looking forward to being able to explore the area once again and take trips downtown to her old stomping grounds.
When asked if there was anything she would do over again, Gini replied “No,” but she would have taken the time to travel more. She loved discovering new places that she read about. She has a wonderful slide collection of many of her travels that we would love for her to share with us. Gini, we are delighted that you traveled to Kensington Park – and hope you never venture away from us.