Virginia Hill Sether, 88

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Virginia Hill Sether passed away peacefully in Bellingham, Wash., on April 25, 2006, at the age of 88. To the end she was astute, passionate about politics and world events, and delighted in the beauty of God’s creation. Virginia was born in Albert Lea on May 15, 1917, to Violet (Ruble) and Fred Hill. She was a great-granddaughter of John Ruble, one of the founders of Albert Lea. Her father established Hill’s Gardens in 1903, and Virginia cherished memories of her childhood home. She graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1934, and on Oct. 5, 1936, she married Russell Sether, her husband of 35 years. Like so many of her generation, she embodied honesty, integrity, strength, and a deep faith in God. In addition, she was uniquely gifted with an adventurous spirit, gracious charm, a knack for storytelling, and a boldness to want to change the world. She was politically active in the Republican Party for many years and served as a chairwoman of the First Congressional District of Minnesota. While a delegate to the Republican National Convention held in San Francisco in 1964, she joined a march led by Martin Luther King Jr. to support the cause of Civil Rights.

A lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church, Virginia served as an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Albert Lea. In 1965, under the auspices of Quackenbush Insurance Co., she launched World Travel of Albert Lea, and managed the agency until 1982. Her travel stories inspired many others, including her grandchildren, to explore the world. After Virginia’s retirement from the travel business, she left her beloved home on Fountain Lake and relocated to Bellingham to be near her family. There she participated in First Presbyterian Church and PEO, volunteered at the Y thrift store, and sponsored international students at Western Washington University.

Virginia was preceded in death by her husband, Russell in 1972; her brother C. Daniel Hill; her sisters, Doris (Hill) Lightly and Jane (Hill) Adams; and Claudia (Ness) Bestland, whom she raised like a daughter.

She is survived by her daughters: Jo Anne Menard (Robert Boggs) of Seattle, Kristin (Tom) Ogren of Seattle, Lisa (Daniel) Hall of Bellingham, many nieces and nephews, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held at First Presbyterian Church in Bellingham on Friday, May 12, and her life will be celebrated on the shores of Fountain Lake in July 2006. Her wisdom and guidance benefited many, and her contributions made the world a better place. She will be greatly missed.

Memorials may be made to Mercy Corps of Portland, Oregon.