A Legacy of Laughter

Oct 2, 2013 | 0 comments

Ginger Jones

Virginia Williams Jones – “Ginger”

Virginia Williams Jones’ grandson called me a few days ago to say that she had died peacefully on Sunday night with her family gathered ‘round.  Her death was not unexpected.  She was just a few months shy of her 98th birthday and, until a year or so ago, she was still living life to the full.  Even after her first stroke last Christmas, she recovered enough to drive again and, said her doctor, “to have a glass of wine if you want.”

We called Virginia “Gin” or “Ginger” and about that she once told me:  “I’ve always been able to tell how people know me by what they call me.  My mother and sister called me ‘Virginia’ so people I met through them called me that, too.  Bronk called me ‘Ginger’ as did his friends and in-laws, and my father called me ‘Gin.’  It always made it easy for me to associate people.”

Bronk was her brother and he married my mother’s first cousin Barbara Espy.  My Red House Cousins are their descendants.  Besides that connection, Ginger’s father was a friend of my grandfather’s.  So calling her “Ginger” or “Gin” came naturally.

She was one of those family connections I felt I had known all my life – and maybe I had.  Certainly, I had always known of her.  It probably wasn’t until I moved to the Peninsula full time in the 1970s that I became really acquainted with her.  And it wasn’t until I interviewed her for my Observer series “North Beach Girls of the Teens and Twenties” that we actually ‘bonded.’  That led, of course to editing her family memoir, “Gin’s Tonic,” for The Sou’wester – a thoroughly enjoyable collaboration, at least for me.

            Like everyone in the Williams family, Ginger was full of vim and vigor –or as she might have put it, ‘piss and vinegar.’  She told the best (and funniest) stories about everything and everyone.  I was never quite sure if she was embroidering the truth or not, but it really didn’t matter.  She told it like she remembered it or said it like she saw it.  You could always count on Ginger for a forthright opinion about things.


Ginger’s Rooster

Besides that, she was well-read, well-informed, and belonged to more study groups and book clubs and service organizations than you could shake a stick at.  Plus she was a talented artist.  A few years ago, she submitted a painting of a rooster to the Heritage Museum’s six-by-six fund-raising auction.

Of course, Nyel bid on it and won.  (It hangs proudly in our kitchen and I can almost hear that rooster crow when we crack open our girls’ eggs.)  When Ginger heard that we were the ones who got the rooster, she said, “Oh, you shouldn’t have spent all that money.  I’d have painted one for you if you’d asked.”  In the next breath, though, she said, “But it was for a good cause!”

We’ll miss Ginger.  No matter how many names she had – Virginia, Ginger, Gin – there was only one like her.  We won’t forget her or her laughter or her connection to our past.


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