Virginia M. Watkins

Honored by:The Watkins Family
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Virginia Pentland Marthens, born March 7, 1912, in Philadelphia, was the third daughter of William and Miriam Schafer Marthens. She dearly enjoyed her education in the Philadelphia public schools and in the wider classroom provided by the city’s many historic monuments, which she and her sisters Rosamond and Miriam avidly explored. In the 1920s, the family moved to Chicago, where she met John Edwards Watkins at a meeting of the Nation Club, to which both were drawn by a shared and lifelong interest in liberal politics and civic affairs.

They married in 1931, and over a 20-year span bore five daughters: Judith Pentland (Smith), Jane Rupley (Loeb), Sara Van Horn (Shirley-Quirk), Amy Catherine (who died shortly after birth), and Catherine Elizabeth Watkins. Although her daughters Judith and Sara died in early middle age and her granddaughter Emily Shirley-Quirk died in adolescence, all remained a continuing presence in her life.

Virginia earned an Associate degree from Wright Junior College, largely through tele-courses, after the family moved to Maywood, Illinois. She passionately pursued her loves of playing the piano, gardening, sewing, needlework, design of all kinds, healthful gourmet cooking, and voracious reading. Throughout her life, she sought and found myriad ways to support and enhance the personal, intellectual, and musical development of her children and, later, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.