Virginia Bennett Hathaway

Virginia Bennett Hathaway


In Des Moines, Iowa, on February 23, 1927, a second, sweet baby girl was born to C. Ray Bennett and Roxy (Hacker). During that time, Ray traveled Iowa, setting up and organizing hardware stores. Mom’s mom, had finished art school and became a radiologist. Due to the lack of protection in those days, she eventually got cancer and, when Virginia was just 11 years old, her mom passed away.

Sorting through Mom’s things, a journal was found. In it Mom mentions her immense sadness over losing her mom so early. But ever the optimist, how the experience made her stronger. She was indeed strong.

During that time, Mom spent summers with an aunt where she learned about animals and farm life. Later, she lived in a boarding house. At age 16, she moved in with two future life-long girlfriends. She became a model, and volunteered at the USO. She waved goodbye to her sister Phyllis when she left to join the Women’s Army Corp.

She liked to tell us the story about when Frank Sinatra came to the Des Moines USO. After performing, he scanned the crowd for a dance partner and chose Mom. She loved to dance and was starstruck!

Around that time, our father Bill, had returned from Naval flight school. Mom was impressed by his picture in the newspaper. He was friends with her sister. Perhaps Mom sent him a note–this is unclear–but they ended up dating and became engaged.

In 1946 Dad went to work in Tacoma, Washington, and Mom would leave Iowa and board a train to go and marry him at the age of 19. I was born two years later, my sister LeAnn two years after that, followed by my first brother, Steve. By then Dad was a pilot in the Air Force and left for Korea. Later, brothers Wilbur II and Norman joined us. Pretty much all born in different states.

Mom was a fun, spirited, and spiritual mother. She would pack us all up every other year and off we’d move to a new town. She’d get us all set up, plant new flowers and meet new neighbors. She was an officer’s wife, played mahjong with friends and attended officer club parties. My sister and I would stare adoringly at her dressing up to go out. She was very social and organized many of the dances.

Mom always enjoyed working, running offices with great charm and skill. In Seattle she worked overseeing the executive offices for the Bon Marché for many years. After work she would rush to rehearsals for her next play. She was an actress and came from an era of children who learned to sing, dance–quite the tap dancer–and to play an instrument. I loved hearing her play the piano.

Mom and Dad both worked for Boeing. Dad worked with the astronauts when we lived in Alabama. Most influential in my memory was our time spent in the South during the 60s. In Mississippi, Mum helped start Operation Star, which was designed to assist less fortunate, under-educated people to gain job and social skills and she organized a lesson plan to be used for the Head Start program. She loved it – they loved her. She made a difference.

Mom and Dad also loved Texas. They traveled extensively in Europe while living in Austin. They became active elders in their church. Mom’s spiritual beliefs got her through life’s ups and downs. She shepherded kids through childhood diseases and nearly-fatal car accidents, and did it with humor and positivity always. She made a home for us all wherever we went.

The biggest blessing has been moving them to their final home of Vashon 13 years ago. Back to ‘God’s country’ as Dad used to say. They got to share a wonderful, supportive community together here.

Mom’s greatest delight was her marriage of 62 years. When Dad passed seven years ago, she carried on. Her apartment friends enjoyed her company, as she did theirs. She got to know her grandkids and great grandkids.

She will be greatly missed by her children, Roxy, LeAnn, Sotantar, Will and Norman and by their children, Simon, Emma, Narayan, Schuyler and Wilma as well as great grandkids Talia, Blake, Ava, Cedar, and Tyler, she thought you were the greatest!

She told me she had no regrets and had lived a wonderful life. You did it in style Mum. RIP.

— Roxy Hathaway and family

Family memorial to follow.

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