Carnations 1

Virginia Lillian Bierwirth

March 5, 1923 ~ January 6, 2022 (age 98)


In Loving Memory of Virginia Lillian Bierwirth

March 5, 1923 - January 6, 2022

Virginia Lillian Bierwirth of Jackson, Michigan passed away on January 6, 2022

Virginia is survived by her son, Bradley Bierwirth, daughter, Jennifer (Bryan) Mayster, 6 grandchildren: Scott (Kate) Bierwirth, Laura (Jason) Norris, Heather (Patrick) Holloman, Austin Mayster, Madison (Matthew) Engel, and Charlie Bierwirth; and 7 great grandchildren: Harper, Livia, Greyson, Aiden, Ashton, Calvin and Olivia.

Virginia was preceded in death by her husband, Herbert Bierwirth, sons Brent Bierwirth and Scott Eric Bierwirth, and her brother, Major General George Anthony Rebh.

Virginia was known to her family and friends as an educator, athlete, University of Michigan football and basketball aficionado, dog lover, devoted and fun mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and a true friend.

Virginia had many accomplishments. 

Born in Detroit and grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, Virginia was recognized as a stellar student, tap dancer and athlete. She performed tap dances for Henry Ford, including his 80th birthday party. During World War II, her mother, Miriam, helped open the door for women in the workforce by becoming a “Rosie the Riveter” at Ford’s factory. Her mother had goals for her children to be well educated so they could help build a better world, where every person is free to pursue their dreams.

Virginia’s athletic genes were inherited from her father, Anthony’s, side. Anthony was recruited by the Pittsburg Pirates to play professional baseball in the 1930’s, but declined the opportunity due to the low wages paid to the players. How times have changed! Virginia’s uncle helped start the Detroit Polar Bear Club in the early 1900’s. Her family still likes to honor the tradition on New Year’s Day.

Virginia was her high school class president. The first paragraph of her graduation address states: “Tonight the June class of 1940 leaves a shelter of pleasant school life and takes the first step forward to meet life’s perplexities.” That is what Virginia did. Virginia married during her university years to her high school beau, Herbert (who was attending U of M pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering). This was wartime and he was called to the Navy to live and pursue training at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Virginia started working at the Naval department at 680 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. She was immediately recognized for her speedy and accurate skills and was moved to become a head officer’s private secretary. During the Navy days, Virginia and Herb attended many dances and events. Virginia entered the Naval bathing suit contest and won the soldiers’ vote of first place when she shocked the crowd dancing on stage wearing an unusual outfit of a decorated lard barrel with straps. Her picture appeared, with trophy in hand, in the newspapers July 14th, 1943. After Herb’s naval duty was served, Virginia and Herb moved back to Ann Arbor to finish their education.

Virginia was one of 8 rare intellectual females majoring in Kinesiology at the University of Michigan. In 1947 she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She continued her journey as a physical education teacher in Dearborn, Michigan. She was a devoted U of M football and basketball fan throughout her lifetime. She passionately supported Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school. Virginia was an active member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) until she was 98 years old. The AAUW is a non-profit organization that advances equality for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. Virginia assisted women in finding greater opportunities to use their education, as well as promoting and assisting women's college attendance through group meetings, book sales fund raising and financial support. 

Creative, smart, talented and fun, Virginia enjoyed a wonderfully full life. She raised her children as she was raised, providing many opportunities of knowledge, athletics and the American ideals and attitudes to prepare for all life situations. Her motto was “go out and show the world what you can do.” Everyone who knew Virginia will agree she was one strong-willed, determined, smart lady. She excelled in the role of a mother, as an admired mentor and best friend to her children.

Quoting Washington Gladden’s poem, Virginia finished her graduation address stating:


"That in the darkest night of the year

when the stars have all gone out,

Courage is better than fear;

Faith is truer than doubt."


Virginia, may you rest in peace, you are the new star that shines through the darkness.

You have given your love, courage and faith to all who were honored to be a part of your life. Your ideals will be passed onto your great grandchildren and generations beyond. Your story will continue to live…

There will not be a memorial service at this time due to Covid. A family service will be held in Ann Arbor at a future date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Humane Society of the United States at would be appreciated.  To contribute by mail, please send a check in the honor of Virginia Bierwirth to:

The Humane Society of the United States

1255 23rd Street, NW, Suite 450

Washington, DC 20037

Please express your condolences to the family at




Family Service will be held in Ann Arbor at a Later Date.


Humane Society of the United States
1255 23rd Street NW, Suite 450, Washington DC 20037
Tel: 1-866-720-2676

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