Virginia Walker Russell
Virginia Walker Russell was born on Sept. 20, 1922 and remained a lifelong resident of Vero Beach, Fla. In her youth, she played in her father's citrus groves, and in the native Florida cypress hammocks, swamps and beaches. At Vero Beach High School, she played the bass drum in the marching band because, at 5'11", she was the only student tall enough to carry it who wasn't on the football team. She was often seen in town, sporting a diamond ring on her toe, and a pet green tree snake on her wrist. Her free spirit and unconventional style stayed with her all her life. She hunted and fished, but was also a city girl. Her comfort zone was the world, and she traveled to every part of it. She had an extraordinary life filled with traditional family life, but also travel and adventures, some of which happened in Gunnison country. In the early 1940s, she came to Tin Cup to visit her dear friends the Corrigans, and that is when her love for the Gunnison countryside began. She visited many times in the following years, but it was not until 1998 that she finally made the Ohio Creek Valley her summer home. She loved to sit on her deck, look at the Castles and watch the cows and the hummingbirds, laughing at their behavior. She took potshots off the porch at voles, mice and flickers, but fed the ground squirrels and chipmunks in her lap. Undecided on marmots, she thought they were adorable to look at so long as they were under somebody else's garage. She attended Cattlemen's Days and the rodeo every year, always buying an extra seat for her purse. She loved going to the Ochs Brothers' annual bull auctions. The family was hard pressed to discourage her from buying a "cute little calf” for the backyard. She attended Western State football games for several years because she had given a summer job to one of the players. He became a district wildlife manager for the DOW, and she kept in touch for many years. Her loyalty in cheering the team on long after he graduated remained. Many friends were made in the Gunnison area, some through church at Good Samaritan Episcopal, many more through the community events she attended with gusto. There probably wasn't a restaurant in the county she didn't enjoy. Each year she arrived in a low slung German sports car in the spring, and spent a large part of her summer zipping around, exploring the area. No day trip was too long, no small necessary item or interesting place too far away, and no speed limit fast enough. Every fall, before leaving, she waited for the first beautiful snow, always sliding off the road somewhere, always rescued by some good-hearted cowboy in a pickup. We think she liked meeting cowboys. The family would like to thank the people of Gunnison for making her final summers so wonderful. So many friends, acquaintances and strangers helped her find misplaced belongings, load up groceries and find her way when she got turned around. To all the hardworking young men who refused to take a dime for putting her back on the road, you have our gratitude, even though we question your judgment. Finally, to the several law enforcement officers who sprained fingers admonishing her for speeding, especially the officer who just gave up after stopping one of her sons for speeding on the same stretch of road, saying "I'd tell your mother, but I know where you got it!" We give our abject apologies and assurances that the "lead foot" is the only family criminal failing, and we promise to do better. She went on to have new adventures on Aug. 18, at almost 95. She was preceded in death by her husband and is survived by her four children and five grandchildren, as well as her sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, and many friends. If you wish to honor her memory, enjoy every moment you can, giggle often, have a generous spirit, make new friends and have adventures every day, no matter, large or small, then tell tall, but true, tales about them. Love your friends and families and leave it all on the field, as she did.