Virginia Mae ‘Cris’ Webster was born on April 9, 1926 in Yakima to Iva and Ernest Stowell. She died on April 2, 2018 on Bainbridge Island.
When Virginia was 3, her parents went on contract with the U.S. government to teach in small, remote locations in the Alaska Territory and the family of four ventured forth. The 1930 Census shows her as a 4-year-old on Unmak Island. The family also lived on Shishmaref Island and finished their service in Alaska in Wainright. In some of these communities, they were the only non-native people and they lived in many ways as native.
One of her favorite stories from this time was when at age 12, the minimum age to do so, she raced a local dog team in a sled dog race. During the race, the weather became challenging so she gave the command “Home Lucky” to the lead dog Lucky and crawled under the furs. They made it back and although she came in last, the crowd was still there waiting.
The Stowell family donated a small collection of native clothing, household items, toys, and artifacts that the family used and collected when in living in Alaska to the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham.
The family returned to a farm in Ferndale and there, Virginia graduated from Ferndale High School with honors in 1943 and began attending the University of Washington studying art. This is where Virginia took on the name Cris as there were five other pledges named Virginia in her sorority. It was at the UW that she met Claude Webster, who was on assignment at the university in naval officer training. One can only assume that it was love at first date because Cris and Claude were married Sept. 29, 1944.
After the war, the young couple spent some time completing Claude’s tour on the Oregon Coast near the Tillamook Naval Air Station. They then moved to Lake City, Washington where they purchased a small home that they spent years working together to remodel and this is where they started their family.
In 1958, they purchased a small vacation cottage at Battle Point on Bainbridge Island, becoming full-time residents there and the family grew.
Cris and Claude were avid supporters of the crown jewels of the island; the public schools, the volunteer fire department, and the park district.
Cris was bookkeeper for the family business and whatever crafting projects or hobby she took on, she excelled at. Her collections of tropical fish, Koi, orchids, and succulents were well known in their day. She was an accomplished seamstress and her artistic touch with an emphasis on natural materials she found on the beach and in the woods was evident both inside and outside the house.
After Claude passed away in 1991, Cris remained socially active and donated time to the American Legion Auxiliary managing bingo and participating in other activities. She was a regular at the pinochle table at the senior center for years and often attended senior center functions and field trips. Cris lived the last years of her life as a resident of the Wyatt and Madrona House properties and became a favorite of many staff.
She was a tough, smart frontier girl her entire life and most who met her remember her for her indomitable spirit and smile that radiated when unleashed.
Cris was predeceased by her parents, Ernest and Iva Stowell; by her younger brother, Ernest Stowell; her husband, Claude Webster; and a son, Robert Webster. She is survived by her daughter, Colleen Webster (Al Falco dec.), and two sons, Kurt Webster (Cherie) and Jay Webster, and 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
In Cris’s memory, the family wishes that in lieu of flowers please make donations in her name to:
ASPCA Kitsap Humane Society, https://kitsap-humane.org/donate/
West Sound Wildlife Center on Bainbridge Island, http://westsoundwildlife.org/Donate.htm