Virginia (known by many as Ginger) passed away peacefully after a battle with cancer. She was 74.
Born in Asheville, North Carolina, her early years were mostly spent in Philadelphia with family excursions up and down the East Coast, and especially to Atlantic City and her grandparents’ farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The family moved to Ferndale, Michigan, outside Detroit in 1955. After getting a degree in English from the University of Michigan in 1966, she began to explore by traveling to Hawaii where she lived for four years. After leaving Hawaii, she and her sister Ann drove across the country from Michigan to Los Angeles, seeing places like the Grand Canyon for the first time. They explored the mountains around LA, the coast, the desert and Death Valley. Virginia’s travels led her to visit Lopez Island in 1972 with Connie Solarana, a friend from Hawaii, who had friends on Lopez with a cabin. The cabin owners invited her to stay for a while – and from that point on she lived on Lopez Island for the rest of her life. In 1974 Virginia, Ann and Connie purchased forest land on Lopez. She had a house built in 1984 and lived there even though it took more than 15 years to finish the interior.
Virginia was open and caring and made friends wherever she went. She touched the lives of many people on Lopez and beyond. She loved people and animals and the island community. Life on Lopez provided her with an amazing variety of jobs. From fishing and net mending, office support for a lawyer, a government official, an escrow business and others, providing house and pet sitting, gardening, cleaning and many other part-time jobs. She became a certified healing touch practitioner and many people and pets benefitted from her treatments. She and her sister cared for their mom after she had a stroke in 1996, and that led Virginia into doing home health care. She was active in the community and was a frequent volunteer at events. She was on the Friends of Woodmen Hall board and she also worked at the Chimera Gallery. She was perhaps best known for her role as the manager of the Lopez Island Farmers Market from 2003–2018.
She always loved the water and swimming. As a child, she swam in the Atlantic Ocean and the freshwater lakes in Michigan. In high school and college she was in the synchronized swimming club. After Hawaii she continued to swim and do water aerobics on Lopez Island and in the Anacortes pool for much of her life. It was her favorite form of exercise. She was one of the first advocates for building a pool on Lopez in the ’80s and an enthusiastic supporter of the current effort by the Friends of Lopez Island Pool (FLIP). Donations in Virginia’s memory may be made to FLIP (see www.lopezislandpool.org).
She is survived by her sister Ann Palmer of Lopez Island and niece Kelley Palmer-McGee (Casey) of Bellingham, Washington.
Celebration of Virginia’s life will be Sunday, Aug. 18, at 3 p.m. at the Lopez Community Center.
So much of Virginia’s life is captured in the stories of those she touched. Please honor her by visiting the website at virginiapalmermemories.com and share your memories and photos or read the stories others have posted.
Memories and photos may also be sent to: Ann Palmer, P.O. Box 84, Lopez Island, WA 98261, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.