Virginia Zachariasen

Obituary of Virginia Mae Zachariasen

Virginia Mae (Rothwell) Zachariasen passed away on July 9, 2021 at age 92 in Tucson, Arizona. Born in Milwaukee to Ralph and Mae (Steffen) Rothwell, who called her “Ginna,” her family moved out of the city during World War II. They eventually settled on a farm outside of Wisconsin Dells, and Virginia graduated from Wisconsin Dells High School in 1947. She remained connected all her life to her high school classmatesand especially her fellow “Hubba, Hubba Club” members. Always a city girl, after high school she returned to Milwaukee to attend secretarial school where she became known as “Ginni.” She met Dick Zachariasen while working at Lakeside Laboratories, and they married in 1952. After her youngest child started school, she returned to work as an assistant to the reading specialist at the local high school. Later, she became an insurance agent, and she continued with that work after she and Dick moved to Pewaukee in 1976. There, they enjoyed life on Pewaukee Lake close to their son Dan and his family and daughter Sue. After Dick retired, they came to Tucson as snowbirds, where daughter Ann and later daughter Lyn also lived, finally settling there permanently in 2002. As had been true on Pewaukee Lake, their home was a gathering place for friends and family for many years until they moved into assisted living in 2018. During COVID, Virginia moved into Starfish Care Homes, and we cannot thank the staff there enough for their loving care of her in the last year of her life.


Virginia is survived by her dearly loved children and their families: Lyn (Carver)Nixon, along with Meredith (Ken) Shafer and Emma; Dan, along with Maryn (Rick Beahm), Brennan and Everlee, and Loryn (Jacob) Sommerville, Genevieve and Jack; and Ann (George) Morrison, along with George III and Billy; the cousins and nieces who joined her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to gladden her heart during our “Zoom with Mom” calls over the past year, especially Bruce and Mary Lou Tessmer, Shelley Rothwell, Linda Rothwell, and Bonnie Rothwell; and other family members and friends. She was pre-deceased by husband Dick in 2019 after over 66 years of marriage, daughter Sue, daughter-in-law Debbie (Peterman), her brother Ralph, and her parents.


Virginia is remembered for her love of hiking and playing tennis, which she did well into her 80’s, being able to sew almost anything (she was Maryn and Loryn’s “sewing Grandma”), the enjoyment she got from gathering everyone she knew into one place, and, more than anything, her love for her family. As one of her nieces wrote on the occasion of her 80th birthday: “I just want you to know I have always looked up to you as one of the most amazing people I know. It seems you can do anything and always get the job done. You’ve taken such good care of your family with what always seemed to be unlimited energy and grace. What a great example and role model for us all.” All her family would echo that sentiment in loving gratitude for her well-lived life!


Memorial donations can be made to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum for the butterfly garden (, click on “Tribute Gifts”) or Friends of Sabino Canyon ( or the charity of your choice.


The Ship

I am standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is only a ribbon of white cloud just where the sea and sky come together with each other. Then someone at my side says, “There! She’s gone!”

Gone where? Gone from my sight—that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her. Just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There! She’s gone!”, there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up the glad shout, “There! She comes!”

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