Virginia Slankard Ground passed away peacefully in her sleep and entered everlasting glory on September 4, 2022, three days after her 90th birthday. The family will welcome visitors from 5 ~ 7:00 p.m., Thursday, September 8, 2022 at Meyers Northland Chapel in Parkville, MO. The Funeral Service will commence at 2:00 p.m., Friday, September 9, 2022 at the chapel with the Committal Service immediately following at Walnut Grove Cemetery, Parkville, MO. Flowers are welcomed.
Virginia was fifth-generation Southwest Missourian. She grew up hearing the family stories of strong women, and Virginia lived a life true to her genetics.
Born to John Marshall and Ida Lee (Wooldridge) Slankard in the midst of the Great Depression, Virginia knew security on the family farm with her brother, Jack, thirteen years her senior, and their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins nearby. Hard times led to the loss of the farm. John started a business of cutting and selling watercress. Ida, in days long before the Internet, contacted restaurants and grocers in Kansas City and Tulsa and entered agreements to supply the watercress, cleaning and tying it in neat bundles packed on ice and shipped by train or bus to the destinations. Seeing little Virginia in her new coat and hat, neighbors asked “Where does your daddy go everyday?” She knew to keep the business a secret and answered, “He goes to Grandma’s,” which was true, since he ended each work day with a visit to his mother.
Virginia was an eager student and, at age seven, a successful teacher, using her Aunt Daisy’s teaching primer to help a four-year-old neighbor learn to read. She attended school in Southwest Missouri, with a brief detour in Wichita, while John did wartime work at the Boeing plant. The family returned to its roots, and Virginia graduated as Salutatorian of her Pierce City High School senior class and served as president of the Future Business Leaders of America chapter. She joined the Rebekah Lodge. She graduated from Monett Junior College and began teaching elementary school in Ritchey, Missouri. Her 90th birthday brought cards from her former students who proclaimed her the “best and prettiest teacher” they had all through school.
On June 26, 1955, Virginia married Curtis C. Ground, Jr., and they set up housekeeping in North Kansas City. A little over a year later, they welcomed Curtis III to the family, and on Hallowe’en 1956, they moved to the Parkville home that remains the family residence. Brother Jack was a frequent visitor, and Virginia hoped they would grow old together with Jack living in the apartment attached to the home. But Jack moved to California, and not long after the family welcomed Deborah Lee into the fold, Jack died in an automobile accident. It was a hard loss for Virginia, but with two small children, she carried on.
As Deborah started kindergarten, Virginia decided the children needed a set of the World Book Encyclopedia. She applied for a position as a typist at Park College, hoping to work long enough to pay for the books. This began a career of thirty-two years, working as secretary to the Director of Admissions, then in the Financial Aid Office and, in the later years, as Coordinator of Student Employment for the college work-study program. Students have remembered her with cards and letters through the years. In the 1970s, she completed her four-year degree in elementary education at Park, was a charter member of the Parkville Business and Professional Women’s club, served on the Platte County Human Resources Commission and wrote a novel, It Could Have Been a Kumquat! In the 1980s, Virginia cared for her mother and welcomed grandchildren Grayson and Sam. The 1990s brought grandchildren Simon and Jordan. Virginia and Curtis enjoyed driving vacations through the South, visiting plantations and making several stops at Graceland. Virginia retired from Park in 1996 to care for Curtis in the final stages of prostate cancer. They were early members of Hope Fellowship Baptist Church, first meeting at the Park Alumni Hall, and were sorry illness prevented them helping in the construction of the new church building.
Heartened by Curtis telling her “You’ve got what it takes to do this,” Virginia managed the Parkville rental properties the two had purchased. She often was spotted driving her maintenance man, who did not drive, to one of the properties, the car loaded with painting and carpentry supplies.
In 2004, Virginia married George Kaneaster. They enjoyed trips to Branson and porch-sitting until George’s health failed and he passed away in 2016. Son Curtis fell into poor health. Virginia went every afternoon to keep him company and sat beside him in the hospital as he passed away in 2017.
Virginia developed health issues in 2020. She was spared COVID; when she had her vaccination, the aide said, “You didn’t even flinch You’re a tough old bird.” She wore that title proudly and demonstrated its appropriateness time and time again. She recovered successfully from surgery at age 88 after a fall and broken hip. The family thanks the staff at Riverside Nursing and Rehab Center, especially Patricia Stevenson, CNA. In the past year, the loving and caring staff at Riverside came to admire Virginia and, at times, were surprised to learn just how tough an “old bird” she could be. Even Death came on tiptoes, taking her in her sleep, no doubt afraid to face her in a fair fight.
Virginia was preceded in death by her parents, John and Ida Slankard, her brother Jack, her husband Curtis, husband George and son Curtis. She is survived by her daughter Deborah (Chip) Buckner, grandsons Sam (Jessica) Ground and Simon Buckner, granddaughters Grayson Price and Jordan Buckner, and great-grandchildren Karson Lenger and Lucy and Steven Shrawder.