Virginia Stevens Seaver (1919-2017)
Virginia Stevens was born in Topeka, Kansas on December 27, 1919. Her parents both worked for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. Her father eventually became Secretary Treasurer of a division of the company, while her mother worked as a clerk for 58 years. Despite her father’s chronic health problems and premature death before Virginia’s graduation from college, both Virginia and her brother would excel academically and graduate near the top of their classes at Stanford and Yale.
At Stanford, Virginia would meet a fellow student, Jim Seaver, and, after considerable persistence on his part, she finally agreed to go out with him. Their first date was to the opera in San Francisco where they saw a performance of La Forza del Destino (The Power of Fate). Thus began a remarkable partnership that would last more than seventy years.
During an amazing ten day period in December of 1940, Virginia graduated early from Stanford, moved from California to New York, married Jim, celebrated Christmas and her 21st birthday!
After WWII ended Virginia and Jim returned to Cornell where he finished his doctorate. By 1947 Virginia and Jim had moved to Lawrence soon after the birth of their first son, Richard. Their second son, Bill, was born in Lawrence in 1950, followed by the birth of their third son, Robert, in 1952.
During her long life in Lawrence, in addition to raising her children and assisting Jim in his many remarkable accomplishments, Virginia was involved in countless civic and volunteer activities, including the League of Women Voters, Friends in Council, Douglas County Senior Services and The Villages. In her quiet unassuming way she was remarkably efficient. Her lifelong fascination with words and numbers would serve her well in the wide variety of activities she pursued. She and Jim were recipients of many awards, almost all of which derived from their profound belief in the value of public service.
In her professional career, Virginia was an editor at the University Press of Kansas, eventually rising to become managing editor. She edited a wide variety of books ranging from the final revised autobiography of Thomas Hart Benton to a first-hand account of Mao’s Long March to the history of the Kansas City Monarchs.
In her spare time Virginia played as much bridge as possible. She was a very fine player and a mentor to many local players over the course of more than half a century. She played an important part in the creation of the Kaw Valley Bridge Club. She was the club manager until the age of 92. In the latter part of her life she was particularly devoted to her friends at the Bridge Center and they to her.
A great believer her entire life in the importance of mental exercise, she did crossword puzzles of all types daily and in her later years became addicted to Sudoku. Her mind was so sharp that she was still playing cribbage Christmas Eve.
Virginia and Jim were inveterate travelers, making countless trips abroad, Italy being the most frequent destination. They loved all things Italian. Their year in Rome during 1953 and 1954 was certainly the most transformative of their lives. It was their first trip overseas, one in which many important lifelong friendships were forged.
Virginia had a remarkable sense of humor, which was well known to her friends and family. It was never mean spirited but always laser sharp. Her even temperament served her well throughout her life and complemented her often stated observation that there was only one direction in life and that was forward.
Hers was an exemplary life. Having lived such a long and wonderful life, the last thing she would have wanted was anyone to feel sorry for her. She often remarked, “Who would have thought that a young girl from Topeka would see so much of the world?!”
Virginia is survived by her children, William Seaver, and Robert Seaver (Barbara); daughter-in-law, Nancy Seaver; grandchildren, Joshua, Jennifer, Jaya; and great grandchildren, Gabriel, Chase, Jordan, Payton and Mason.
Virginia was preceded in death by her husband, Jim Seaver; son, Richard Seaver; grandson Jesse Seaver; and brother, Edward Stevens.
A memorial service will be held from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Sunday, January 21, 2018 at Union Pacific Depot. A private inurnment will be held at Pioneer Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to the Kaw Valley Bridge Club or any charity of choice and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.