Mount Ayr Record News, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, November 02, 2011
OBITUARY ~ OLIVE "VIRLEEN" (BLACKMORE) VerPLOEGH
1915 ~ October 21, 2011
Olive Virleen VerPLOEGH passed on October 21, 2011 just a few days after celebrating her 96th birthday while under the
excellent and compassionate care of the staff at North Central Health Care, Wausau, Wisconsin. Her family was by her
As a daughter, friend, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Olive Virleen (BLACKMORE) VerPLOEGH did
her best to joyfully reach out and touch the soul of each person in her life and give to and take from them all the good
she found. As the wife of a man who regularly was able to slip the bonds of earth to touch the face of God, she was the
concrete of the runway when he returned and the foundation of her family. She was a strict mother, a patient mentor and
then the best friend that adult sons could possibly have.
Few people knew her as Olive; she was just "Virleen" to her friends and family. The tall, lanky, talkative girlfriend of
Popeye, she wasn't. But there was a quiet strength in her small body. She readily admitted to being spoiled by her
hard-working father as an only child. Pictures of her growing up reflect a smug and confident little girl and young lady.
She was remembered well by her 12 classmates, which included Russell, in her high school graduating class of 1933.
Virleen was born in tiny Tingley, Iowa and grew up there with Russell A. VerPLOEGH living just a few blocks away. They
would then elope to marry after completing their college educations at the University of Northern Iowa -- her satisfying
the requirements as a teacher. She taught until becoming an air force officer's wife as Russell enlisted in the Army Air
Corps, earned his wings, and initially became an instructor pilot. The United States was fighting World War II in Europe
and the Pacific and Russell left Virleen in Iowa expecting their first son, David, for an assignment as a B-29 pilot
flying bombing missions over Japan. Three years later, after the war, their second son, Alan, was born at Scott Air Force
Virleen and Russell's 28 years in the air force was directed and protected by God's hand. Assignments in Colorado and
Texas preceded tours in post-war Germany and England where lifelong friendships developed and the family enjoyed rich
experiences. It was there that Virleen began her formal training and experience to enhance her appreciation for growing,
arranging, displaying and judging plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables attaining certification as a master gardener.
They moved back to Texas and Mississippi before an assignment in exotic, multi-cultural Morocco. The opportunity for
Virleen, Russell and two impressionable sons to enhance their appreciation and understanding of the world was not denied.
The family studied the languages and culture of people around them and used all chances to educate themselves with
expeditions around their North African host country, southern Europe and the Middle East.
Returning to the U.S. to a Massachusetts Strategic Air Command duty post and, after seeing David and Alan into the start
of their college educations, Virleen and Russell had their last major air force assignment to a military diplomatic
advisory role in Bangkok, Thailand during the Vietnam War. There Virleen took on a more active role of studying the
culture and language of Thailand and interfacing with the Thai people from working class to the highest social,
government and military roles.
"Retirement" from the air force meant only a change in careers for Virleen and Russell. They moved to Albuquerque, New
Mexico, where Russell's three brothers had also migrated, to open a franchised Kampground of America and diligence and
hard work paid off with a successful business. Later Russell's lifelong love of flying again prevailed as he purchased
an airplane and joined Albuquerque Flight Service as senior instructor pilot. He trained dozens of new pilots, including
son Alan, before his untimely death in 1989 while Virleen continued her horticultural hobbies and work in the church.
Fifty years of Virleen and Russell's marriage were characterized by not only an affectionate relationship but a moral,
conservative philosophy of life, their love of country and their service to their church and God.
They are survived by son David; his life companion, Joan LAWLER; his children, Kirsten, Todd and Erin and their spouses,
and great-granddaughters Faith, Zoe, Laura and Tess; son Alan; his wife, Denise (STOLTE), and their children, Sophie
(MARTINKUS) and Evan, and loving friends and family throughout the world.
Since Russell's death, Virleen moved from Albuquerque joining Alan in Champaign, Illinois and then Wausau, Wisconsin
where she continued to serve her church and enjoyed her hobbies and her sons and their families -- her grandchildren
and great-grandchildren. Hers has been a long life well-spent.
Brainard Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Private memorial services will be held at a later date
in Virleen's beloved Tingley, Iowa and Albuquerque, New Mexico. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Friends
of North Central Health Care, c/o Volunteer Department, 1100 Lake View Drive, Wausau, WI 54403.
[Interment was made in Tingley Cemetery, Tingley, Iowa.]
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2012
To submit your Ringgold County obituaries, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.
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