Virginia 'Pat' Ground


Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2007

Former Juneau resident Virginia "Pat" Ground died July 19, 2007, in Anchorage. She was 90.

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She was born Virginia Gleeson on July 31, 1916, in Basin, Wyo. Her family lived in Greybull, Wyo., and Cody, Wyo., before they moved to Seattle. She graduated from Central Washington College in Ellensburg with a degree in education and major in botany.

Her teaching career spanned 33 years, primarily teaching first grade.

"She said that in order to do this, you have to love the little kids - and she truly did," her family wrote. "Pat was fondly remembered by many of her former students who returned to see her after reaching adulthood."

During World War II, she taught in Orting, Wash., and worked for Boeing Aircraft in their war bond department during the summer. She met Ed Ground, from Riverside, Wash., at a swing shift dance. They were married on Sept. 25, 1944. The following day, they boarded the S.S. Yukon bound for Alaska.

After nine months in Anchorage, where Pat worked for the Civil Aeronautics Authority and Ed worked for the Alaska Railroad, they learned of a business opportunity in Seward. Among his many skills, Ed also was a baker. The owner of the Kenai Bakery in Seward had recently lost the business in a card game. So a good deal was available and they moved to Seward.

After three years of providing pies, fresh bread and pastries to Seward and the surrounding area, they sold the bakery. Pat returned to teaching.

In 1956, they moved to Omak, Wash., where Pat often said, "I went to Alaska on my honeymoon and returned 12 years later with two kids!"

After teaching one year at North Omak Elementary School, they moved to Klamath Falls, Ore., where she taught until 1968.

The couple then moved to Juneau, where she taught first grade at Gastineau Elementary School until her retirement in 1975. According to her family, she departed from a profession that she truly loved.

After five years in Oregon, the call of Alaska beckoned again, and they moved to Cooper Landing. They spent summers entertaining friends, fishing on the Kenai and winters in Oregon until they became full-time Cooper Landing residents in 1988.

The family wrote: "We did not know that morning that God would call her name. In life, we loved her dearly, and that will never change."

She was preceded in death by her husband in 1993.

She is survived by her son, Robert Ground and his wife, Diana, of Klamath Falls; daughter, Janet Mitchell and her husband, Gary, of Cooper Landing; granddaughter, Kristin Mitchell; grandson, Kevin Mitchell and his wife, Nicole, of Anchorage; and great-granddaughter, Kaitlyn Mitchell, of Anchorage.

At her request, no funeral services were held.

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