Virginia Ann Birkby was born to Jack and Dorothy (Yost) Birkby on February 16, 1947, in Tacoma, Washington. She graduated from high school in Milwaukie, Oregon, in 1965, and from the University of Puget Sound in 1969 where she was a member of the Tri Delta Sorority. She earned her masters’ degree in educational administration from Pacific Lutheran University.
As a teacher, director of special education, and an administrator, Virginia was with the Clover Park School District from 1969 until 1999 and served as Clover Park Education Association union president. After retirement, she rejoined her family in the beach community of Arch Cape, Oregon. While she loved walking beside the ocean and sharing beach bonfires, she soon returned to her true passion of classroom teaching at nearby Nehalem Elementary School for another 17 years. Her legacy includes the hundreds of children she taught and inspired and then sent on their way, better prepared for the future.
Virginia brought her whole heart to her work as a teacher, infusing her classrooms with homey charm. She created a warm learning atmosphere that embodied her pride in her profession and her love of children in whose lives she invested so much of herself.
We also celebrate Virginia as one who could concoct a celebration like no one else could. Whether it was a birthday, baby shower, Christmas gathering or even a funeral, she coordinated events bouquets of balloons, matching napkins and tablecloths, coordinated place settings, creative decor, festive wrapping with frilly trim, and of course always… flowers!
Virginia loved flowers and gardening. Whenever flowers came into bloom, they immediately found their way to as many rooms as would hold them. She put together beautiful arrangements, but never with anything as common as a carnation. Virginia’s vases exploded with bright-eyed irises and daisies, majestic montbretia and hydrangea, and her signature honeysuckle and fuchsia.
An avid and accomplished downhill skier for 35 years, she cherished her time spent on Mt. Rainier instructing at Cascade Ski School and traveling with friends during school breaks to conquer the mountains of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California highlighted the first half of her life.
Her eye for style extended beyond flowers to every detail of her rustic beach-themed home. Her elegant penmanship and calligraphy adorned special occasion invitations and everyday notes. She would put together outfits from her wardrobe that Nordstrom would envy and she could always describe the outfit she wore to an event, even from her childhood. She appreciated textures and patterns of fabrics the way a musician cherishes notes.
Virginia (Ginny) was laid to rest at New Tacoma Cemetery, just two miles from her 30- year University Place residence overlooking the Puget Sound and beloved Olympic Mountain range.
Surviving sisters are Jackie (Birkby) Dochow, Seaside, Oregon and Debra Birkby of Arch Cape, Oregon. She was preceded in death by parents Jack and Dorothy Birkby, Aunt Gretchen Ann (Yost) Lemke, Cousin Brett Lemke, Grandparents Ben and Gretchen (Peggy) Yost and Lawrence (Shorty) and Lucretia Birkby.
Commemorative donations can be made in her honor to Arch Cape Domestic Water Supply District (32065 Shingle Mill Lane, Arch Cape, Oregon 97102), working in conjunction with North Coast Land Conservancy, to preserve and improve the community’s watershed and old growth forest neighboring her home on the Oregon coast. A memorial celebration will be held at 79829 Gelinsky Road, Arch Cape, Oregon on Saturday July 6. All colleagues, family and friends are invited to gather starting at 1 p.m.
“the river goes on and on, and the sea that divides us is a temporary one, and the bridge will bring us back together”