Virginia Foote Ireys Anderson

Virginia Foote Ireys Anderson

1924 - 2020

Virginia Foote Ireys Anderson passed away peacefully on December 30, 2020, in Napa, California. She was 96.

Virginia was born May 5, 1924, to Dr. Dellizon A. Foote and his wife, Lulu Anne (Maxwell), in Omaha, Nebraska. She attended Omaha public schools where she excelled and developed a lifelong love of learning. She attended Grinnell College in Iowa, graduating in 1945, Phi Beta Kappa.

At Grinnell, she met David Matlack whom she married in 1945, settling in Santa Monica, CA. They had three children before separating. Virginia then moved to Santa Maria, CA, where she began teaching and married Winfield P. McWilliams, with whom she had a fourth child.

In Santa Maria, Virginia began a life-long career as an English teacher. She taught elementary grades before moving on to high school, serving as English department chair at Santa Maria and Righetti High Schools. Her marriage to Mr. McWilliams ended, she moved with her two youngest children to the Bay Area in 1967, where she taught English at Tamalpais and Danville High Schools.

With her third husband, Calvin Ireys, Virginia enjoyed traveling in Europe and Africa from their home in Berkeley. Virginia continued her education at CSU Hayward, where she earned a master's degree in English, and at UC Berkeley, where she earned a Ph.D in 1986, at the age of 62. She continued to teach at Contra Costa College, CSU Hayward, and Millsaps College in Jackson, MS.

For more than twenty years, Virginia was married to fellow music lover and labor scholar, Henry Anderson, who predeceased her in 2016. They regularly attended the San Francisco Opera, Ballet and Symphony and spent time with their families. Virginia published three books about her family and participated in a writers' group. As an active member of St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, she sang in the choir.

Virginia was a generous spirit who housed exchange students and was an early supporter of civil rights and the environment. Throughout her life, she nurtured her early love of the mountains, hiking in the Rockies, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Alps.

Virginia is survived by her children, John Matlack (Claire Riley) of Boulder, CO; Anne Evans (Gregory) of Napa, CA; Katherine Matlack (Lloyd Price) of Bonita, CA; Robert McWilliams of Longmont, CO; by her grandchildren, Sam Evans and Andy Evans of Berkeley, CA; Ramona Price of Chula Vista, CA; Julia Price (Erik Stauber) of Albany, CA; Joey Price (Jacklyn Knutson) of Brooklyn, NY. Virginia is also survived by Henry's children, Stephen Anderson, Rachel Elandt, David Anderson, Dorothy Rodriguez, Eugene Anderson.

Virginia's family thanks Aegis Living of Napa for the care given to their mother.

Friends and family may contribute to the Virginia F. Ireys English Teacher Scholarship at California State University East Bay.


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Published by Napa Valley Register on Jan. 5, 2021.
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Barbara Niemann
January 3, 2021