Virginia “Ginger” Drew

August 11, 1943 ‒ June 20, 2020

Marion, Ohio
Formerly of Washington, D.C.,

In the rolling rural hills of Virginia, on the sweltering morning of August 11, 1943 Retta Kimble Barnes gave birth to Virginia Ethel Barnes, giving her husband Richard their first daughter.  Brother Harold was already 2, and sister Iris would not be far behind.  Her childhood was spent with her siblings and cousins running and exploring farmland, hollers, and pastures which would eventually grow into the community of Winchester, Virginia.  Her childhood summers were spent with her grandparents, on a family farm in Petersburg, WV where she bonded with her grandmother, learning at her side, West Virginia hospitality, a skill she perfected and put to incredible use throughout her wonderful life.

After graduating from Winchester High School 1961, she heard the call of the big city.  She packed her bags, found a room at the YWCA in the Mount Pleasant area of DC, made friends with young women from across the country and landed a job in the secretarial pool at the Epilepsy Foundation of America.  Life in the Nation’s Capitol introduced the newly red headed Virginia, now going by Ginger, to an exciting, urban world capital, and she was hooked. She would live in DC for the next 55 years.

Ginger loved her work.  She was recruited by a new corporation, established by the federal government, to oversee the exploding securities industry.  She would be amongst its first employees.  It was the Securities Investors Protection Corporation.  Just blocks from the White House, she worked at SIPC for over 30 years, starting as an administrative assistant, and rising to Executive Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Board of Directors, whose members were appointed by the President of the United States.  While there, she earned of Bachelor of Science Degree Summa cum Laude from the University of Maryland.  Her work took her to all corners of DC, and on regular trips to San Francisco and New York.   From the roof of her building, her extended family celebrated 4th of July fireworks from the Washington monument and she witnessed history, as DC was rocked by terror on 9/11. Perhaps more important to her however, was her lifelong friendship with Pat Kennedy and Charles/Chuck Glover.  Her lunches with them to every high and low brow restaurant in DC were legend and forged a bond that lasted a lifetime.

Like most young women in the ‘60’s in DC, she loved the exciting city life.  She recalled live concerts on the National Mall with Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, and Bob Dylan.  The nightlife in DC was far different than she remembered from Winchester, and she made lifelong friends at every turn. Soon, she was able to buy her own new red convertible Chevy Impala, which she drove one Saturday night with her girlfriend Margie, to the Knights of Columbus Hall in nearby Maryland.  Her life would never be the same.

At the K of C, she met a gas station manager with a talent for a story, a gregarious smile, and a heart as big as the ocean.  They would wed several years later, and were soul mates on this earth for more than 40 years.  They are soul mates again.

Fred and Ginger were married on Valentine’s Day, and they never stopped dancing. They lived on Senator Avenue for most of their lives.  She loved what he loved, and he loved what she loved:  movies, cooking, gardening, the Chesapeake Bay, crabs, Ocean City, The Shenandoah Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The list, like their love, is endless.   Like most lives, theirs was enhanced by friendships far and wide.  One of their favorite adventures was weekends with their dearest friends, Pat and Ida Kelliher.  Those special times usually started with a thermos of Bloody Marys and ended with laughter and a lifelong admiration and bond.

Together, they raised Fred’s sons Ricky and Scott.  She filled a void in these three men’s lives and changed them for Good. She set about becoming an integral part of the extended Drew family, quickly becoming one of its best parts. Extending the rural West Virginia values she learned at her grandma’s knee to the suburban Drew house in District Heights, her world took on an extra meaning, which she says was her life’s joy.

She made Senator Avenue an open house, the door was always open, the kitchen always busy, the oven always on.  If there was a high school dance, a college reunion, a wedding, baptism, or family reunion, it was at her house.  Everyone was invited, no one left hungry, everyone got a hug.  There were no strangers, everyone became part of the family, everyone was invited back.   She was West Virginia, Mountain Momma.

A new era opened when Scott brought home Pam one Thanksgiving, from St. Louis. Soon, she would be a mother in law, then grandmother.  With Delaney and Danny, somehow she upped her already incredible game.  Travel to Ohio became much more frequent, adopting and updating the role of grandmother became her passion.  They brought a joy to her life that sustained her.  Very few called her Ginger again.  Her hair went from red to purple, and she became GG, Grandma Ginger.

But it was her romance with Fred that was her bedrock.  They were neither affluent, nor traditionally educated.  But they had shared core values that permeated to those around them.  Their work ethic was strong; their family ethic was stronger.  They were volunteers in their community and were philanthropic to those less fortunate.  They were ahead of their time in civil rights and gay rights.  They loved people. They loved their family. They loved each other.

In January of 2016, she and Fred moved to Marion to be close to the Ohio Drew’s. GG temporarily said goodbye to Fred on April 20, 2016.  Humorously, she noted she lost him on weed day.  But she was lonely.   She quickly was surrounded by the warm, friendliness of the Marion community.

Following a brief illness, she rejoined her beloved on Saturday night, June 19, in time for Father’s day in heaven.  She was held by those that loved her most, cradling her head, hands, and arms, holding her tight as she slipped earth’s surly bonds.  Painless, peaceful, resolute.

She is already missed.  She is eternally loved by her nephew Christian Addor, and his husband Chris Reachard, nephew Tim Barnes and wife Katie, Sister in Law Jeannie Drew,  Brother in Law George Drew, Daughter in law Terry Crawford, and the Marion Drew’s, Scott, Pam, Delaney, Danny and Alexis.

Memorial services will be held in Marion, Ohio and Washington DC at a time when we can all join hands and hearts and celebrate the life of this incredibly special woman.

GG was and exemplar of and a believer in the transformative power of education. In lieu of flowers, if you would like to share your love of this classy, generous lady, please consider donating to the Konrad F and Virginia E. Drew Scholarship Funds at either Bishop McNamara High School, Forestville MD, or AT Still University of the Health Sciences, Kirksville, MO.

Good night sweet princess, may Fred and Ginger dance forever with the angels.

Snyder Funeral Homes, Gunder/Hall Chapel, are honored to serve Ginger’s family and your condolences may be expressed to them by visiting www.SnyderFuneralHomes.com.

 

  • So saddened to hear of Ginger’s passing. Always a broad smile and infectious laugh is what immediately comes to mind when I think of her. Sending our thought and prayers to all of you during this difficult time.

  • Oh Scott, I just read. That was one of the finest obituary s I have ever read. I sure would have liked to have met her. My condolences to you and your family.

    John Mc Daniel

  • I have known Virginia, V.A. to me, since 1977. She was a peerless friend and co-worker, and has been an important part of my life through the years. She cherished her family and friends, and will be sorely missed.

  • Deepest condolences to Ginger’s family. This was the finest obituary I’ve ever read, truly honored a grand human being.

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