Obituary of Virginia Mae Lease
Virginia Mae Kilde was born on June 13, 1926 at Saint Joseph Hospital in Tacoma, Washington to William and Sophie Kilde. She died on March 2, 2023 at Allenmore Hospital in Tacoma.
Ginny married Ernest L. “Ernie” Lease, Jr. on April 26, 1946 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Parkland, Washington. They celebrated 69 years together before his death in May 2015. They had two children, Gregory, born in Tacoma in 1951 and Karen, born in Port Angeles in 1954.
Ginny attended Fern Hill Elementary, Stewart Junior High, Lincoln High School (Class of 1943) and the College of Puget Sound (now University of Puget Sound) in Tacoma. She studied English and French Literature and sang in the Adelphian Choir and the CPS Campus Trio, which sang locally and also toured around Washington State, performing and publicizing the university in numerous cities and towns. Ginny loved God, her family, and every friend who came into her life. Her special interests were music and education. An accomplished soprano soloist in her younger years, she sang in schools and churches for many years, and also played in a bell choir at Skyline Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, where she and Ernie were members for many years. Ginny was truly a lifelong learner, enjoying church book clubs and learning opportunities through church and at Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community (now Eliseo) where she moved after Ernie’s death. She served as Director of Christian Education at Skyline and taught all ages in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School as well as teaching and facilitating adult learning opportunities for her fellow parishioners’ to develop and deepen their Christian faith. She always believed that the most effective way to learn anything was to teach it to others. And teach she did, after carefully researching and learning all she could about her subject, and then always presenting the information in a way to stimulate others to think and respond and discuss their ideas in order to discover their own understandings and develop their own faith paths.
Ginny was active in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) during her children’s school years, serving as a local PTA President and being awarded an Honorary Life Membership for her service. When the Seattle School District cancelled kindergarten classes because of a failed school levy the year that Karen would attend kindergarten, she and other parents organized an educational cooperative in West Seattle, rented the classroom, hired a teacher and operated the kindergarten at Gatewood Elementary as a privately funded enterprise, because their children needed that education and would not be denied by the district.
Ginny’s faith was always a very powerful part of her life. She was never pushy about her beliefs, but they were clearly an integrated part of who she was. She was a powerful example of what it means to, as Saint Francis of Assisi is said to have commanded, “Preach the good news of Jesus everywhere you go. If necessary, use words.” Her life was characterized by love and kindness expressed through everything she did. She accepted instead of criticizing others, and had an open mind along with her open heart. Always active in the congregational life of the church, she was quick to volunteer and reach out to others. She and Ernie both served as ordained Elders at Skyline Presbyterian Church, Ginny for two terms on the Session.
Ginny lived in an independent-living apartment at Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community, now known as Eliseo, for the last 7 years. She was fully integrated and active in the social and spiritual life of the community. She was the President of the Resident Association for two years and knew most, if not all, of the residents in the apartments and six-plexes there. Community life there was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for an extended period. Once things began to return to some normalcy, Ginny noticed that there were quite a few residents who rarely ventured out of their apartments. She made it her mission to reach out to those neighbors. She said, “I’d just go and knock on the door, and most of the time, they’d invite me in and we’d have a nice visit. Sometimes, they weren’t interested, but they knew someone was thinking about them anyway.” It was so typically Ginny.
Ginny was pre-deceased by her husband Ernie, all her siblings: Will Kilde, Ed Kilde, Emily Bremer and Ron Kilde, and her daughter Karen. She is survived by her son Gregory (Colette), grandchildren Corina Shipp (McAvoy), Nolan O’Brien (Laura), Graham O’Brien (Anne), Kelsey Jackson (Andrew), Aaron Lease (Diana), Raeder Smith (Debbie) and Nathan Smith. She is also survived by 18 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service to celebrate Ginny’s life will be held in July 2023 on a day to be determined. Her family gathers each July and she would have wanted everyone to be together for this celebration of her life.