Virginia Culbertson

Three days before her 91st birthday, on October 2, 2017, Virginia Culbertson passed away at home after a brief cardiac illness in the presence of her daughters and granddaughter. She is survived by her three daughters: Joan C. Frey (John), Jan Culbertson-Dickey (Larry), and Joyce Parr (Dino), her six grandchildren: Joshua Frey (Genevieve), Justin Parr (Jolene), Erin Chan (Wayland), Devin Rodriguez (Rich), Brian Dickey, and Michelle Dickey and her five great-grandchildren: Tatum and Taylor Frey, Kenna Chan, Brooke Parr, and Sierra Rodriguez. She is also survived by her sister Betty Miller (Bob) and her nieces and nephews.

Born in San Jose, California, Virginia was raised in Alameda. She spent her childhood with her younger sister Betty, playing with friends, and swimming at the Alameda Estuary Park. Her father Raymond was an accountant for Shell Oil Company. Her mother Ella was an elementary school teacher. Virginia graduated from Alameda High School in 1943. In 1947 she graduated from University of California at Berkeley with a BA in business administration.

She met her future husband, Robert Culbertson, at a fraternity/sorority (Delta Zeta) mixer at UC Berkeley when Bob returned from World War II to complete his education. After college Virginia worked at the Stauffer Chemical Company in San Francisco, riding the bus across the Bay to San Francisco each day. In 1948 Virginia and Bob were married and moved to Watsonville, raising their three daughters there. Virginia started a small childcare program in their home, primarily for children in the neighborhood. She was successful and enjoyed the children so much, she was asked to teach 3rd grade at Hyde School. She received her teaching credential later, doing her course work after hours. For most of her 22-year career, she taught kindergarten and first grade at Mintie White School. She developed close friendships with colleagues, neighbors, UC Berkeley friends, and childhood friends, which continued throughout her lifetime.

After her retirement Virginia helped out with her grandchildren, especially Justin and Devin, who lived down the block from her. She also cared for her mother, Ella Sibley. Later she indulged in her love of travel, going to such places as Europe, Canada, Africa, Central America and Hawaii with family and friends. She even took her mother Ella and sister Betty on an adventurous trip to Panama and El Salvador.

Participating in her community was always important to Virginia. Once a teacher, always a teacher, she continued to help neighborhood children get ready for kindergarten. She also volunteered teaching English to Spanish speaking adults. After reading an article in the newspaper about pre-term triplets needing extra help, Virginia quickly signed up to volunteer in the family’s home. She was a member of the Retired Teachers' Association, the American Association of University Women, and the Watsonville Hospital Senior Circle.

Virginia took great pride in her health and fitness, joining the original Green Valley Athletic Club, frequently attending the water aerobics group. She was also a voracious reader, often reading the books from her daughters’ book clubs. She closely followed the local, national and international news. Even in her final weeks, Virginia was watching Stephen Colbert and the Rachel Maddow Show, making her own pointed political commentary.

Among family and friends Virginia was known for her love of family, dedication to friends, her sense of humor, and her sharp intellect. Her grandchildren loved their visits and phone calls because they always knew they would end up laughing together. In her last few years she found great joy and meaning in her life as she cared for her great-grandchildren, singing songs, playing piano, and doing alphabet races on small chalk slates!

She was predeceased by her parents Raymond and Ella Sibley, her ex-husband/good friend Robert Culbertson, and her son-in-law Ken Frey.

At her request no services will be held. Donations may be made to the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and Hospice of Santa Cruz County. The family wishes to thank Dr. O’Grady and Hospice for their wonderful care.


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