I first came to know V in 1973 when I was working on an undergraduate research project that required using autoanalyzer equipment. Virginia, V, taught me how to operate the equipment. But more importantly she taught me the skill of trouble shooting it when it broke down or put out bizarre results. She was a terrific mentor, patient and generous with her time even though she worked a very demanding job mostly on her feet in University Hospital clinical chemistry laboratory. She was a clinical chemistry technologist for over 50 years. She trained so many people over the years how to report critical chemistry results for best possible patient care. When I started my PhD program at UCSD School of Medicine, V was there again to help and mentor me. I was supported on a NIH training grant, but it was impossible to survive on the stipend. V provided me free room and board throughout graduate school, even buying my beer. She was supportive, again always testing my thinking to solve problems at the bench. But for her generosity I would not have graduated starting my career as a research scientist, that I continue to do to this day. V loved animals, all animals. She was an avid birdwatcher with the heaviest binoculars I ever tried to hold still. For decades V volunteered at the San Diego Zoo as a docent and was a long-standing member of the Ocelot Club. She loved kitties and over the years took care of so many who came to her as they knew she was a “cat lady” to be entrusted with their young, like momma kitty who brought her several newborn kittens one at a time over the fence in V’s front yard. In 2004 V donated $25,000 to our research efforts to develop an oral contraceptive for unowned dogs on the Navajo Nation. This grubstake helped us start our research and development of an oral rat contraceptive bait. Everyone at the company we founded knew the story of “Aunt Virginia” launching our research. Her last road trip with us was to visit a research field site in Utah. And as always on southwest country road trips she was fascinated by the roadside geology. This last Super Bowl reminded me so of V. She loved NFL football and had “tailgate” parties with great food and drink in her home with her friends. She was a wonderful friend, caring and generous. I know V joined all of her kitties along with her dear friends at the rainbow bridge. I will always think of V when I spot a new bird, more than likely is a LBB (little brown bird) another valuable life skill she taught me.
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