Virginia White, age 79, died peacefully in her sleep on November 30, 2023 at her home in Aurora, Colorado. She was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Ervin L Spinar and Darlene Spinar.
She was raised in Kearney and Lincoln, Nebraska, and graduated from Lincoln Northeast High in 1962. She attended Nebraska Wesleyan University, where she was a member of Phi Mu Sorority and Plainsman Players, and graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. She later received a Master’s Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1970.
Virginia was a loving wife, mother and grandmother. She opened her heart and home to her children’s and grandchildren’s friends, and her home became their second home. She also had a soft spot for providing a home for animals that needed one – a soft spot which her family repeatedly sought out. Everyone felt welcome once they walked through her door.
Virigina made teaching her life-long career, beginning with her first teaching job in Papillion, Nebraska in 1966. As a public high school English teacher, she was dedicated to inspiring all students to love reading. While teaching at Lincoln East High School, she developed a program to individualize and meet the needs of students who were not too eager to learn by getting them to read about subjects in which they were interested. She brough this program with her to Cheyenne East High with great success, when she moved with her family to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1979.
Over the course of her 40-plus years of teaching, Virginia had many other accomplishments. She was the Chair of the English Department at Cheyenne East and was named Teacher of the Year, District Teacher of the Year, and honored by the University of Wyoming Honors Program. She developed the English curriculum for the new Eaglecrest High School in Centennial, Colorado, where she also taught when it opened in 1990. During numerous summers, she taught Advanced Placement English to other high school teachers across the country at the University of Northern Colorado. She was also a dedicated mentor, working with student teachers to inspire the next generation of educators. She concluded her teaching career in 2008 at Cherry Creek High School. Throughout her teaching journey, she connected with hundreds of students, and the positive impact that she had on them is reflected in the fact that many of them remained in contact with her years after they left her classroom.
Following her retirement, Virginia pursued her passion for creative writing by publishing stories for children and young readers, and she was a proud member of The Colorado Authors League. Her first book was an adaptation of a story that her youngest daughter, Kari, wrote in elementary school about a cat that could not meow but HONKED. She and her oldest daughter, Kristin, also collaborated on a story about a Pink Pachyderm that plays a piccolo. Another labor of love was her well-researched young adult book that updated the recounting of her Great Grandmother’s memories of her childhood growing up while migrating across western Kansas and Nebraska in the 1880s and 1890s. That book “Counting Sunshines” was published in December 2023.
In her retirement, Virginia also found time for traveling. She enjoyed travelling with her grandchildren to Hawaii, New York, Washington DC, and of course Disney Land and Disney World. She loved seeing the London of Dickens and Shakespeare, and she and Warren ventured on various trips to other places in Europe. But, her favorite trip was to her Grandfather’s birth place in Sasava, Czech Republic, a small village 80 miles east of Prague. One of the few remaining buildings in that village is the Spinar Mill used to cut timber and mill grain and the church cemetery where many of her grandfather’s family are buried.
Virginia is survived by her husband of 56 years, Warren, her daughters Kristin (Paul) Dulany, Wellington, Colorado; Kari White (Paul Muntner), Austin, Texas. Grandchildren Sheridan of Fort Collins, Co, Garrett and Kaycee of Wellington and great grand-daughter Ivy of Fort Collins. Brother Donald E Spinar and his wife Bev Austin of Lincoln, sisters-in-law Beverly Donahoo and Marjory Smith of Lincoln and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. And, of course her cats.
She was preceded in death by her parents and younger brother David G Spinar.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either Shriners Children’s Hospital or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Virginia’s burial will take place at Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, Colorado in March, 2024 and a Celebration of Life will be held at Olinger’s Hampden, Denver following the services at Fort Logan.