Virginia I. (McDowell) Moriarty, 105, died peacefully at the home of her daughter, Kathy, in Torrington, Wyo. on July 25, 2019.
She was born on May 5, 1914, in Casper, Wyo. to J. West McDowell and Cecile Irene Peake. She grew up in Casper, where her father was a business man who ran a hauling business, and later, a construction company. Many of the original sidewalks in the central part of Casper were constructed by his company.
Virginia graduated from Natrona County High School in 1933. After high school, she worked as a secretary.
On June 1, 1936, she married Mark Moriarty. Upon her marriage, she converted to Catholicism. She was a lifelong, faithful member of the church of St. Anthony, and for many years sang in the church choir. After her marriage, she dedicated her life to keeping a nurturing home for her husband and three children.
Virginia grew up in very difficult circumstances, losing her mother at the age of eight, and her father when she was 15. She put herself through high school by working in other people’s homes, caring for their children and doing housework. Her extremely difficult childhood formed the narrative of her life.
In spite of the enormous early personal loss of her parents, she was buoyed throughout her entire life by the knowledge that her parents, and especially her father, had truly loved her. These early experiences shaped her into the highly resilient and independent women she became.
The accomplishment of which she was most proud in her life, was having successfully raised three children. Her greatest loss was the premature death of her son, Mike, who died in a skin diving accident on Mother’s Day, two weeks before his high school graduation.
An accomplished artist of great talent, she began her art studies in her 50’s. Her oil and watercolor paintings received various awards, one of which was the Governor’s Arts Award. That painting was on loan for a year, and displayed in the offices of Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C.
She was a member of the Casper Artist Guild and the Scotch and Watercolor Society for many years and frequently volunteered at the West Wind Gallery, now known as Art 301. Many of her pictures can be found in Casper homes, as well as, in the homes of her children.
She was a wonderful homemaker, skilled seamstress, and exceptional cook, and loved reading, gardening, and bridge. Whatever endeavor she attempted, whether tiling her bathroom or creating a piece of art, was carried out to the highest standard.
Some years after the death of her husband, she met Wilbur (“Shep”) Shepherd, and enjoyed a delightful, long-term relationship with him and his extended family, until his death 16 years later. Shep introduced her to fishing, at which she became very proficient. Their relationship very much enriched her life.
Virginia traveled abroad extensively, often as a companion to her daughter, until the age of 102, but she always protested that she “didn’t much care for travel.” Indeed, her favorite spot on earth was her home, which she loved to the very core of her being.
She was a remarkable woman who enjoyed wonderful physical and mental health, all of her life, living independently in her own home until the age of 98. In 2012, she moved to Torrington to live with her daughter, but would return every other month for short visits to her home in Casper.
Her sweet and loving nature made her beloved by many, but especially by her family. We will miss so much her wisdom, her wonderful sense of humor, her zest for living, and her strong core values. For those of us who knew her and loved her, she graced our lives.
Virginia is survived by her daughter, Dr. Kathy Moriarty of Torrington, Wyo.; son, Mark Daniel Moriarty (Genoveva) of Monona, Wisconsin; grandsons, Sean Moriarty of Guatemala, Michael Moriarty (Pilar) of San Rafael, Cali., Daniel Moriarty (Catriona) of Washington, D.C.; great grandchildren, Gabi and Luca Gongora-Moriarty of San Rafael, Cali.; and several cousins, nieces, and a nephew in Minnesota.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Mark; her son, Michael; and her parents, one brother and sister and several nephews and nieces.
A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church at 2 p.m. A reception will follow at O’Reilly Hall. Private inurnment will follow at Highland Park Cemetery, where she will join her husband, Mark.
Colyer’s Funeral Home in Torrington has been entrusted with arrangements. Memorial donations may be made in Virginia’s name to either Regional West Hospice or Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.