La Jolla Centenarians: For Virginia Andrews, sons and swimming are loves of her life
Editor’s Note: As part of La Jolla Light’s 100th publishing anniversary this year, we are featuring interviews with fellow centenarians throughout 2013. If you know a La Jollan who is 100 years old, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (858) 875-5950.
By Ashley Mackin
When describing her history as a swimming instructor, soon- to-be centenarian Virginia Andrews of La Jolla, points to the two great loves of her life — water and children.
“I always loved to swim, water is my best friend, and I always loved children. I always loved helping them learn to swim. It was one of my most fun things,” she said.
While her love of water and swimming didn’t bring her to La Jolla, it finalized her decision to retire here. The first time she lived in La Jolla was when her husband John (who also lived to be 100!) was transferred here through his job at the New York Life insurance company.
He was then transferred to Austin, Texas, but the couple decided to head back La Jolla for good in 1959, along with their four sons — Simon, Ruben, Richard and Thomas. Virginia said it has been a dream of hers since she was a little girl to live by the ocean. She jokes that having been born in Spokane, Wash., she wanted to live by the ocean before she had even seen it. It was in La Jolla that she founded the Neptune Swim Club, where children were taught to swim at no cost. She said she wanted to make sure all of her students could rescue themselves and one other person, should the need arise.
Her son, Simon, said people tell him all the time, “I wouldn’t be surfing today if your mom hadn’t taught me how to swim.”
While she loves all children, Virginia’s own are the most precious in her life — and it shows. “(My boys are) all wonderful boys,” she said. “I was always so thankful and grateful that I was given these wonderful boys.”
When asked which decade out of her 100-year life was her favorite, she answered, “I think it was about the time that my children were blossoming into adulthood … four boys growing to be men. I enjoyed them at each passing decade and I’m glad to be among them.”
Her attitude toward motherhood — which she said is “my everything” — is both loving and realistic. “I’m enjoying the privilege of helping the four boys learn everything that I can, and be around to back them up,” she said, adding that the lessons she wanted to teach them were to be hon- est and never to blame. “I got my hand on their shoul- ders and if they need any- thing that I can do, I hope they let me do it,” she said.
Joking with Simon, she said, “I think they would have made it without me, but it was a lot of fun anyway.” To which Simon replied, “Doubtful. If we made it all, it would have been a much different story.”
Virginia said she tries to get her extensive family — which includes eight grandchildren and one great-grandson — all together as often as possible. “I’m glad they go work and do their own thing, but I am so happy when we get together … but they have living to do.”
The Andrews sons all still live in La Jolla, which proved to be a nurturing environment for the family. The boys graduated from La Jolla High School, and Virginia and John were chosen as Senior Marshals in the 2009 La Jolla Christmas Parade, the year before John’s death.
As to how La Jolla has changed over the years, Virginia simply shrugged. “Since I have changed so much, and we all have changed so much, that’s where it all is. It isn’t that the town has changed, but when you talk about change … you better like it, because you are at the wheel,” she said.
Over time, Virginia was able to evolve not only as a mother, but as a woman. She said women are more courageous now than they may have been in the past, but as a result, they’ve had to give up some of their femininity. “They had to sacrifice being totally feminine and nothing else,” she said, and as a result, “We had to be strong and use our strength, and know what we are and know that if there is something that needs to be done we can do it — and we did it.”
It is Virginia’s “We Can Do It” attitude that she attributes to her longevity. “I don’t want to quit,” she said. “I just feel very fortunate. I got put in a good place and I’m thankful.”
• Up Next: Meet 101-year-old Leona Adler in the March 21, 2013 issue.
- La Jolla Centenarians: Heart in England, Home in La Jolla. Bird Rock resident awaits his 100th birthday
- La Jolla Traffic and Transportation Board approves short-term parking additions
- Sunday’s La Jolla Christmas Parade is ready to roll
- Mural No. 8 Arrives: La Jolla Community Foundation installs another public art piece
- La Jolla’s Town Council, Planning Association discuss pending issues
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