On Sundays, the Journal Star publishes information on central Illinois residents celebrating their 100th birthday. Happy birthday to Virginia Risch Snowden.
Virginia Risch Snowden of 2724 W. Reservoir Blvd., Peoria, celebrated her 100th birthday with three days of recognition/celebration at Proctor Place, including distributing carnations to all staff and residents on May 30, giving out custom M&Ms with a message and picture of Virginia at 20 and at 100 to all staff and residents on May 31 and finally with birthday cake for all staff and residence on June 1.
Virginia was born June 1, 1921, in St. Louis. Both her parents and one sister lived into their mid-90s.
She graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1943. She met Norwood L. “Snow” Snowden, the man who would become her husband, at Mizzou. Norwood accepted a job with Caterpillar Inc. prior to going off to war. After Norwood served in the Army for three years in World War II, they were married on Feb. 23, 1946, and moved to Peoria.
They raised four daughters, Peggy (and Jack) Murphy of Peoria, the late Carol Snowden of Columbus, Ohio, Nancy Snowden of Peoria and Susan Snowden of Chicago. The four daughters earned nine advanced degrees. Virginia has two grandchildren, Philip (and Brooke) Murphy of Naperville and Cathy (and Daron) Zwink of Dunlap; and four great-grandchildren, Addison and Brooklyn Zwink and Alexandra and Owen Murphy.
As an active volunteer, Virginia, along with a few friends, founded and established the first school library at Pleasant Hill Grade School. This library was probably the first place and time many of these students had access to a life-changing set of books and knowledge.
She was also a longtime substitute teacher of math and science at Bergan, Manual and Woodruff (one of her students being Dan Fogelberg).
Once her youngest child was in school, Virginia went to Bradley University, where she obtained her master’s degree in guidance and counseling, focusing on students who faced challenging life circumstances. She was a trailblazer in many ways. Over the course of her career, she taught suspended students, teen mothers and wards of the court. Youth Farm, where she taught for many years, was particularly dear to her heart.
She taught and gave attention and care to many boys who were wards of the court and likely had not experienced much nurturing. She expanded their knowledge and helped to increase their self-worth.
When Virginia retired from Youth Farm, Snow started a successful small mail-order business creating and selling plans for at-home wood and metal shop projects. Virginia provided support to this endeavor. They moved together into Proctor Home/Place in 2003 when she was 82. She poured great effort, energy and love into the Proctor Place library, which she oversaw from 2003 until 2018, and book club.
Virginia also was a longtime member of and volunteer at West Bluff Christian Church and volunteered at Methodist Women’s League.
She leads, and has led, her life by contributing, giving, teaching and making the world better for others. At 100 years old, she continues to inspire others with her determination and attitude.
To be part of the 100th birthdays feature, please contact the Journal Star to receive a birthday form to fill out. Forms are available online at pjstar.com, or one will be mailed to you by calling 686-3118. Forms are due 10 days before Sunday publication date.