Virginia Knapp was born Dec. 3, 1920, in Adams, Neb., to parents Ray B. Knapp and Leah Wuanita Mestre Knapp. Virginia had an older brother, Ray M. Knapp, and a younger sister, Phyllis, who died of rheumatic fever at the age of nine. The family moved to Summerfield, Kan., to run a pharmacy during the depression until Virginia was 17. The family moved to Beatrice, Neb., where she graduated high school. Virginia attended William Woods College after high school and then graduated from Northwest Missouri Teacher College in Maryville, Mo., in 1944. She taught one year in Shelbina, Mo., before moving to Tarkio, Mo., where she taught high school English. Virginia married Glen William Rankin Sheets on June 6, 1945. Together, they had four children, Kelvin, Lora Lee, Roger and Diana.
Over the years, Virginia taught English in both Tarkio and Rockport Mo., at different times before retirement. She also was a librarian at Tarkio College for four years from 1968 to 1971. Virginia was a dedicated housewife and teacher for four children and a loving husband.
Virginia first came to Pagosa Springs as a young girl with her parents and fell in love with the area. She and Rankin bought a lot in Pines II in 1971. Virginia and Rankin started a house in 1976 before Rankin’s death. Virginia completed the house and moved to Pagosa full time in 1979. She came with an International V8 Scout, a motorcycle, cross-country skis, tennis racket and golf clubs. Virginia was also noted for her excellent wines made in her basement. Her wines won county and state awards for best dessert wines in the early eighties.
Virginia enjoyed geology and was an avid rock hound. Our family comes from a long line of rock hounds. She enjoyed reading English history and played a serious bridge game (more bridge, less talking) and pinochle. After retirement came cross-country skiing, hiking, golf and tennis. Virginia traveled around the world five times. Her favorite countries were Yugoslavia, Spain and England. She collected many wooden masks from the countries and regions around the world. Virginia collected old weather vanes. A lifelong passion for beauty of trees and birding was evident in the books and pictures in her home. Virginia’s home was one of the first houses to be built above the golf course. The house was designed by a famous architect featured on one of the popular magazines of 1960s. The house is an elongated hexagon with only two 90-degree corners inside.
Virginia is survived by her son, Roger M. Sheets, and wife Carol, daughter Diana Taylor and husband David, her grandchildren: Sarah Jennings and husband Elliott, Leah Hendricks and husband Jeffery, Julia Taylor; and great-grandchildren Rachel Jennings and Daniel Jennings. Virginia is preceded in death by her husband, Rankin Sheets, in 1977 and two children, Kelvin and Lora Lee Sheets, in 1969. Virginia was the last of the Knapp family. Virginia had several companions, Mel Baum, hiker and co-wine maker, Edison Stern and Carl Bolt here in Pagosa, all of whom preceded her in death.
A memorial will be held in the spring of 2016 in the mountains near Wolf Creek Pass and in Tarkio, Mo. Final interment of her ashes will be at the Tarkio Cemetery in the spring of 2016. Check for notices in the paper in the spring 2016 after snow leaves the high mountains.
The words that best describe my mother are love life, don’t regret the past, be a teacher, love nature and friends, but don’t get on her bad side (her friends know what I mean).
Written by Roger M. Sheets, loving son, retired to Pagosa Springs just like my Mom.