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Virginia B. Spalding

Iowa City

Beloved by all who knew her, Virginia B. Spalding died at age 95 on Jan. 25, 2019, in Iowa City.
Virginia Esther was born to Mary Elizabeth Beeler and Philip Rothrock Burford in Nevada, Mo. She grew up in Sedalia, Mo., before moving to Kansas City, Mo., to work at Hallmark Greeting Card Co. and enroll at Park College. Virginia later earned her B.A. degree in social work at the University of Iowa.
In 1945, Virginia married the Rev. James C. Spalding. Virginia was a true partner with James in his education, ministry, teaching, research and service. They moved to the Fort Peck (North Dakota) Indian Reservation and subsequently to New York City, where James earned his Ph.D. while Virginia worked at the William Randolph Hearst Publishing Co. They spent 1946 to 1948 in Zurich and Basel, Switzerland, and Tubingen, Germany, during James' studies.
Upon their return to the U.S., they sadly lost a son at birth. While living in Slater, Mo., then San Antonio, Paul and Helen (twins), Peter and Mary arrived. In 1956, James joined the University of Iowa religion faculty. Virginia edited and typed scores of dissertations, while volunteering fulltime and managing a growing family that eventually included Ann.
Virginia's life was dedicated to social justice and service to others. She was devoted to seeking out those less fortunate and finding the resources and interpersonal support for them to succeed. Refugees from multiple wars, including the Hungarian, Romanian and Chinese cultural revolutions, found a safe home with the Spalding family.
Virginia held numerous positions in local, national and international Presbyterian, civil rights, social justice and peace-making organizations. She and James were key to founding St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Iowa City. She was president of the Johnson County United Nations Association Chapter and active in UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity and Amnesty International. She volunteered locally with the free lunch program, hospice, the food bank and the crisis center. Her travels on behalf of peace and justice included trips to Romania, East Germany, Palestine and South Africa.
Virginia was preceded in death by her parents, six siblings, a son and husband.
Surviving are her children, Dr. Paul Spalding (Dr. Almut Spalding) of Jacksonville, Ill., Helen Spalding (Dr. Karl Johnson) of Lacey, Wash., Dr. Peter Spalding (Jody Spalding) of Santa Fe, N.M., Dr. Mary Larew (James Larew) of Iowa City and Ann Price (Kenneth Price) of Loveland, Colo.; 11 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and her best friend since fourth grade, Helen Perucca.
Thank you to all her loyal and devoted friends, and the kind care the Oaknoll staff provided for Virginia in her final years.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center and Habitat for Humanity.
A memorial worship service will be held at 7 p.m. June 7 at Congregational United Church of Christ, 30 N. Clinton, Iowa City.
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