Virginia Andrew, 86, dies

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— Virginia Andrew, a columnist for the Steamboat Pilot for more than 50 years, died Wednesday at the Doak Walker Care Center here.

Andrew's son Chris said his mother died of complications form a broken hip suffered in a fall. She was 86.

Virginia Andrew began writing for the Steamboat Pilot 52 years ago, authoring the weekly column "Sidney News."

The rural crossroads of Sidney, in the valley south of Steamboat, no longer exist.

However, Andrew continued banging out the Sidney News on her old Remington portable for several years after the small community disappeared, concentrating on news from Pleasant Valley and other rural areas. Before long, her column transformed into "Whistle Stops," which chronicled the comings and goings and daily events that defined peoples' lives. She also wrote a column for many years called "Farm Folks." Farm Folks dealt with national issues of interest to agricultural producers. Andrew's political bent was toward the left, and she didn't hesitate to reflect those leanings in her column.

"She was feisty. She was in your face when it came to the issues," Chris Andrew said. "It didn't matter who you were. She wrote about everything from weeds to liberal politics. Her columns were filled with a lot about farm policy."

Andrew was a familiar sight in Steamboat recognizable to many as the petite woman guiding a large blue Oldsmobile sedan through Old Town.

Virginia Andrew had many more facets to her personality than newspaper writing. She and her former husband, Otis, ranched together for 35 years. They also took nine different foster children into their home, helping infants through the first year of their lives until they found permanent adoptive homes.

"She didn't believe in women's liberation, but she was a liberated woman," Chris Andrew said.

Andrew ran a Farmers Union insurance office from her home for 20 years beginning in 1945 and later opened an office in the Squire Building at the corner of Ninth and Lincoln in downtown Steamboat.

In 1971, she and Ruth Carver founded the Unique Shop, a cooperative that created a way for elderly people to sell secondhand items, antiques and crafts on consignment. They started the enterprise, also in the Squire Building, to foster a community spirit and sense of purpose for elderly people as much as to generate consignment income, Chris Andrew said.

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