Virginia Braley Westberg|
June 25, 1919 ~ March 19, 2013
Virginia Westberg passed away peacefully in her residence on March 19 at the age of 93 surrounded by friends and family as well as her beloved cats Ella and Otis. "VW", as Virginia was known to family and friends, had many passionate interests. She loved growing strawberries in her garden, adored flowers and taking long walks in the "deep,
dark woods" near her home overlooking Lake Washington with her only grandchild, Mark. She was a great cook, known for hosting wonderful parties at her home to celebrate Seafair, the arrival of the Christmas ships, and many more events associated with her volunteer work. Though small in stature, she left a huge impression in the greater Seattle area and in some of the farthest reaches of the world. Politics, the news, and travel sustained her.
Virginia was born in Seattle and attended the University of Washington, majoring in history and international affairs. When her first marriage ended, she began her life-long work as an advocate of equal rights for women and minorities. In the Placement Office at the University of Washington, she matched college grads with jobs in the schools. She was the Seattle Project Director for the federally-funded Women's Job Corps. In 1980 she worked alongside former County Councilwoman Bernice Stern to establish the King County Senior Housing Counseling Service. Her volunteer work included chairing the Mount Baker unit of the League of Women Voters. For five years at KING-TV she supervised volunteers for the popular "Call for Action" consumer protection show, conducting preliminary research on community complaints before turning the leads over to investigative reporters.
After the death of her second husband, Al Westberg, revered Seattle civil rights attorney, Virginia spent six months in Moscow as a nanny for the family of Lynn Jones, ABC news correspondent and formerly with KING Television. She made herself useful to the international press corps and thrived on close contact with diplomats.
After Moscow, Virginia co-chaired the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Association, the first U.S.-Soviet Sister City Affiliation, with Rosanne Royer. They were invited by the Soviet government to launch numerous professional and cultural exchanges, including the Amputee Soccer Exchange, in which U.S. amputees, including war veterans, linked with amputee veterans of the Soviet-Afghanistan war. Virginia was their liaison and accompanied them on trips. She described the Seattle-Tashkent exchange program as "one of the most extraordinary international opportunities we had ever seen laid before Americans."
In her last few years, Virginia's life was enriched by her close friendship with Dr. Milton Clark. Together they traveled, took in the cultural offerings of Seattle, and enjoyed the company of good friends and family.
She is survived by her two sons, Russell Westberg and his wife Joanna Jie Cui of San Mateo, Roger Westberg, his wife BJ Stokey, and her grandson Mark Westberg of Seattle She was preceded in death by her brother Russell (Bud) Braley, a journalist in Europe, and her sister Gloria Heinz of San Luis Obispo. Her family extends thanks to the many caregivers and friends who assisted Virginia during her illness. In lieu of flower, donations in Virginia's name can be made to Purrfect Pals, a no kill cat shelter at www.purrfectpals.org. A celebration of Virginia's life will be announced in the near future. To sign the guest book and view additional biographical information go to www.washelli.com.
Published in The Seattle Times from Mar. 22 to Mar. 27, 2013