Virginia L. (Sawyer) Gutzler was born December 3, 1929, in Prosser, Washington. While still an infant, she moved with her parents, Joe and Elsie Sawyer, to Oregon City, Oregon, where she lived until 1949 when she married J. Wallace "Wally" Gutzler and they moved to Salem, Oregon.
She treasured a photograph of herself at five years old, dressed in a cowgirl outfit, sitting on a live Shetland pony and holding a violin. She always claimed she thought, if she agreed to take violin lessons, she got to keep the pony. Without the pony, she took violin lessons, including Portland Junior Symphony, and played in many quartets, until she graduated from Oregon City High School in 1947.
She couldn't afford college so got a job in the Clackamas County auditor's office. In 1949, she was a princess on the Oregon City float in the Portland Rose Parade. Marrying Wally and moving to Salem meant getting a new job and she found one at Moore Business Forms while Wally started Willamette University with help from the WWII GI Bill.
Daughter Sherri was born September 10, 1950. Unfortunately, the next day Wally received his orders to return to the Marine Corps for the Korean war. Virginia and Sherri were able to join him for a brief time while he retrained in California, but with just 24 hours' notice he was flown to Korea, leaving Virginia and Sherri to get back to stay with her parents in Oregon City for the duration.
She was determined Wally would complete his education, so, after more work at the auditor's office, another move to Salem, another time at Moore Business Forms and the birth of son Mike on July 19, 1952, she began a 25-year series of school jobs from secretary to the principal of junior high to business managers to two school districts. During Wally's completion of college and law school, Virginia's hard work was noticed, and the Dean of the law school appeared with her on Portland TV where he presented her with a "PHT" degree (Pushing Hubby Through).
Wally started law practice in Woodburn, Oregon, and Virginia, in addition to her school jobs, with her two children in those schools, became very active in the Woodburn community. She sang in the Presbyterian church choir, served as President of JCettes, worked on the North Marion County Fair, cooperated with Russ Baglien to improve spectator seating in Legion Park, served as a cub scout leader, camped with Campfire Girls and spent many years helping at the annual Fourth of July Chuckwagon Breakfast. She loved to dance and for many years enjoyed monthly Terpsichorean Club dances. Later, while in Salem, she sang with Sweet Adelines.
When Wally's work centered in Salem and the children were on their own, he and Virginia moved to Salem for the third time and Virginia considered retiring. When First Presbyterian Church of Salem had an opening for business manager, she applied and was hired. Exactly thirty years later, the last day of 2009, she did retire. The plaque presented to her reads in, part: "With heartful thanks for 30 years of faithful & dedicated service and appreciation for your steady hand in helping keep the ship afloat in all kinds of weather."
Virginia and Wally moved to Country Meadows Village in Woodburn February 2, 2015.
In retirement Virginia enjoyed her cats, watching old TV shows and visiting with Wally. She died peacefully on July 11, 2019, at Heartwood Place where she had been gently and thoughtfully cared for during her final 30 days.
Virginia was predeceased by her parents; all her uncles and aunts; her brother-in-law, Chuck Gutzler, and his wife, Donna. She is survived by her husband; her children; her former daughter-in-law, Gail Gutzler; her two granddaughters, Natalie Gutzler and Eli Gutzler; her son-in- law, Jim McGonagle; her brother-in-law, Tom Gutzler and his wife, Carolyn.
A memorial service will be held in early Autumn.