Virginia (Bishop) Bitner April 16, 1937 – November 20, 2021
Virginia Lee Bishop was born in Springfield on April 16, 1937. She immediately started stealing hearts by flashing those big brown eyes and that mischievous smile, which continued throughout her life.
She was the first-born daughter of Lucy Findley Bishop and Orla ‘Bunt’ Bishop. The family grew to include 4 sisters and a brother. She attended school in Springfield until the family moved to Brush. They returned to Baca County where her dad farmed with his brothers. Virginia learned the value of hard work while working with her siblings on the family farm.
During that time, she met Leslie ‘Kip’ Bitner, her future husband. She graduated from Walsh High School in 1955.
After high school, she graduated from business school in Amarillo, TX. She was hired by the Air Force as a payroll clerk where she was the first female civilian to work on the base.
During her courtship with Kip, he was drafted into the army in 1956 and was stationed in Ft Carson. Bitner got a 3 day pass so they could go to Clayton, NM to get married before he was shipped off to Germany. Virginia joined him there a few months later. They traveled all over the country, touring many historic castles and the tulip fields in Holland.
They returned to the States in 1957 and soon afterwards started their family. In 1958, Kelly was born, followed by Jenean in 1960 and Diane in 1961. They moved into their new home in 1964. It was the only house on the block at that time. They remained there until the kids left then built their current home north of Walsh.
Family and friends were important to her. One of her great joys was her 3 daughters and 3 grandsons, Jason, JD, and Van (and her new granddaughter in-law Kit). She grew up surrounded by a large family of siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, and in-laws. Then along came Kip’s 6 siblings and their families. There was always a big gathering during holidays and birthdays. For a number of years, she rented the community building for Thanksgiving and invited all the relatives and anyone in the community who wanted to share a meal.
Virginia brought a passion to everything she did. Whether it was trying out a new recipe with all natural ingredients, making a quilt of valor, helping a neighbor, caring for the farm animals, teaching classes about essentials oils, or nurturing her family. She recommitted to serving God in 1994 and lived her life following the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Virginia has been described as a doer. Making a difference in someone’s life came natural to her. If she saw something that she thought needed to be done, she took action. If you asked her how she’s doing, she’d smile and give you a thumbs up and say “Just Right”.
You may know her from one of her many businesses, hobbies and interests.
-she was a photographer and writer for the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper in the early 1970’s.
-she was an avid softball player for many years and enjoyed playing with her sisters, daughters, and nieces. She was always the pitcher and sometimes the bus driver to get the team to games and tournaments.
-she enjoyed league bowling with her mom and dad until they could no longer bowl. She continued participating in many state and national tournaments with her sisters Janice and Donna.
-one of her favorite jobs was a school bus driver for many years. She remembered all the kids who rode on her bus and she would often make the remark when seeing them as adults “they rode on my bus”.
-She enjoyed being a 4-H leader for the Busy Bees for many years
-over the years, she was a school board member, a Scout leader, a substitute lunch room cook, and a substitute mail carrier.
-she also managed the family’s rental properties in Walsh and Trinidad.
– and she always made time for the annual camping and fishing trips with family and friends.
-She and Kip were active in the American Ag movement and Virginia managed the office for the Walsh chapter.
-She followed in her mother’s footsteps as an entrepreneur and took over the locally famous Get & Go Café (some of you knew it as the Hawg Trough). She ran the café until she and Kip converted it into a convenience store. They closed the store after many years of serving the community to move on to other interests.
-Her love for cooking kept her busy catering many local events, including the Dinner Theatre and Alumni Banquets.
-After she ran out of things to do, she started Bear Creek Kitchens making jam and jelly and traveling to different farmers markets in the area. She expanded her products to include canning fresh garden product, like salsa, beets and okra. You could find her every Saturday at the Walsh Farmer’s Market.
-After attending several crafts shows, she decided Walsh needed their own. So, for several years, she had organized 2 successful craft shows a year benefitting the Walsh Fire Dept and EMTs.
-She loved being a Natural health and wellness advocate and brand partner/leader with Young Living Essential Oils. She felt that God has provided the plants for medicine so why not use them instead of something created in a lab.
There were 3 things she was passion about until the end:
-She supported the Young Living Foundation because she believed in the work they do around the world.
-She was determined to get streets signs for the town of Walsh. She sold donated products each week at the Farmer’s Market to raise the money for the new signs.
-Once she got involved with the Quilts of Valor organization, she put her heart and soul into making patriotic quilts for many of the local veterans. She enjoyed many hours sewing and socializing with other Quilt of Valor club members. She was instrumental in organizing the Veteran’s Day programs in Walsh, along with the high school students, to present the veterans with their quilts.
However, her greatest passion was her relationship with God and serving others in her faith. She loved and was loved by her family, extended family and a host of others who called her a friend. Her big heart, warm smile, and encouraging words will always be remembered.
Virginia leaves behind her husband of sixty-five years, Leslie ‘Kip’ Bitner, daughters Kelly Bitner, Jenean Gordon, and Diane Irwin, grandsons Jason Irwin, JD (Kit) Gordon, and Van Keith. Sisters Jean Kline, Janice (Adin) Hebberd, Shirley Anderson, Donna (Devon) Caldwell, and brother Donald Bishop. Also a number of cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws.
Virginia had made prior arrangements to have her body donated for medical research and then cremated. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the research has slowed down and donations were not needed at this time. She was cremated and her remains will be buried in the Walsh Cemetery in a private ceremony.Memorial donations can be made to the YoungLivingFoundation.org or Quilts of Valor Local Chapter (checks payable to Justa Stitchin’), PO Box 606, Vilas, CO 81087 or Town of Walsh, Street Sign Fund, Box 280,
Walsh, CO 81090