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Helen Whipple

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Helen Virginia Whipple passed away peacefully in Albuquerque at sunset on Dec. 19, 2012 at age 88 surrounded by her entire immediate family: children and spouses David Gibson IV, Brett Solon, Gretchen and Dan Shaffer, Daniel Gibson and Kitty Leaken, and Matthew Gibson; and grandchildren Michael Solon, Rachel Shaffer, Blair Solon and Radi Abouelhassan, Travis Gibson, Philip Shaffer and Isabel Gibson. Virginia-Virg or Jinx to her close friends-was born on April 28, 1924 in Cañon City, Colorado of pioneer families-the Whipples and Estills. She led a full, fruitful and complete life, and served as an inspiration to all who knew her. She was love. Virginia grew up in Cañon City under the loving care of her parents, George and Nell Whipple, with her older siblings Jim and Margaret. She graduated from the University of Colorado during World War II with a degree in sociology, and then took a position in Denver as a state social worker, driven by her innate sense of compassion and desire to help those in need. In May 1947 she married another Cañon City native, David E. Gibson III, and the young couple set up residence in Albuquerque, operating Gibson Lumber Co. on N. 4th Street and establishing many life-long friendships. She gave birth in 10 years to three sons and two daughters, and raised them well. After divorcing in 1969, she married Louis Drypolcher. They lived three years in Tarrytown, New York with her two youngest sons before moving to Santa Fe in June 1972. In Santa Fe, she worked at Artesano Imports, where she refined her great eye for Mexican arts and crafts and developed a close friendship with the store's owners, the Gomez family. In 1975 the couple purchased a condominium on the Sea of Cortez in San Carlos, Mexico, where they spent winters and early springs. They divorced in the early 1980s, though her loving relationship with her stepchildren and their children continued. Jerry and Pam Drypolcher; Tony, Pat and KC Drypolcher; Tina, Larry, Birk and Henry Jones (her godson); and Brian and Piper Leigh Drypolcher remained an important part of her family throughout her life. Virginia then focused her immense energies on opening and running V. Whipple Old Mexico Shop in Albuquerque's Old Town neighborhood. The one-of-a-kind store featured handcrafted items that Virginia selected on extended buying trips to Mexico, and all who entered were struck by the beauty and simplicity of her collection. Virginia was a superb cook and hostess, and she could quickly establish rapport and goodwill with anyone she met. Her North Valley adobe was a favorite gathering spot for family and friends, who spent many summer evenings in her lovely garden. She was adventurous, adaptable, lively, of strong opinions, full of curiosity, a voracious reader, and loved to travel near and far. She was always pointing out the beauty of the world: a pretty sunset, a roadside patch of flowers, a bird sitting on her feeder, a distant mountain range poking above the New Mexico horizon. She loved the outdoors, and always insisted on taking the long road. She was gorgeous in youth, as she was throughout life. She was a wonderful mother and grandmother, devoted to her offsprings' happiness and success on their own terms. She dragged her children into museums, Mexican churches and art exhibitions- which they came to love as well. She was a frank realist, but had an eternal optimism and bright outlook on life. She was never afraid to admit she was wrong or did not know the answer. She was a constant student of life, a source of sage advice, and an open ear to any who sought her out. She loved life and passed that love on to all who were graced to be within her radiant circle. There is a huge hole in the lives of all who knew her but solace in the fact that it was a life so well-lived. Hasta Luego, Doña Virginia! A springtime memorial service will be held at a date and place to be determined, with an announcement to follow in this newspaper.

Published in The Canon City Daily Record on Dec. 29, 2012
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