Virginia C. Zavgren, 92, Potsdam
Sunday, December 16, 2012 - 5:55 pm

Virginia C. Zavgren, 92, after a sudden fall, passed away 14 December 2012 at the Massena Memorial Hospital, under the care of Hospice and her family.

She was born in Omaha, Nebraska on May 26 1920, the daughter of Signe (Ottosson) and Victor Alexander Petersen who were Swedish immigrants. She survived the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl years in Nebraska when she said “there were days when we had nothing to eat but apples.” She said of the recent Ken Burns documentary on the Dust Bowl: “That’s just the way it was.” She graduated from Loup City, Nebraska high school in 1938. In 1941, she moved to Washington D.C to take a job as a secretary and clerk in the Department of the Navy. She married John Zavgren on July 26 1943 in Omaha, Nebraska, and continued to work in Washington after he was deployed as an engineer in Patton’s army, landing on Day Two at Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion.

After the war, she and John moved to Los Angeles where they ran a radiator repair business. Later, along with her father, they operated the Hotel Merced near one of the entrances to Yosemite National Park, where they often camped and fished with their children Cathy, Christine and John Richard. In 1960, the family moved to Philips, Nebraska where Virginia worked with her husband as a farmer raising livestock and grain and the family’s food. 

John was a Mason. Virginia joined Eastern Star. She taught Sunday school to children, and Bible reading to adults. She sang in the church choir.  She claimed Angels saved her life three times.  After they retired in 1990, they traveled to Sweden where they could speak the language, to Israel, France, England and Alaska.  After John’s death in 1996, and her own bout with cancer, she moved to Potsdam in 1998 to live with her daughter Christine and her husband Jan Wojcik where she continued gardening, and making jewelry and painting landscapes in acrylic, and caring for BD her dog. She was a master at crossword puzzles, word jumbles, and Scrabble. She spent one winter living on her own in Ajo, Arizona and another in Clearwater, Florida near her granddaughter Laura.  

She is survived by her daughter, Cathy Sukraw in North Platte, NE and her children Ben Sukraw in Lincoln, NE, and Laura Sukraw in Palm Harbor, FL, Christine Zavgren; her husband, Jan Wojcik in Potsdam and his sons, Max Wojcik in Tucson, AZ and Vlad Wojcik in Gordonsville, VA; by John Richard Zavgren and Bridget Moony and their daughters, Sadie Rose, Maggie, Joslin and Kaitlin in Wilton NH; her nephew, James Thomas and his wife Sharon and their son Jim in Sparks, NV;  Jill Gambino in Warren, RI; and by her adopted grandson, Blaise Pascal Tine in Lynnwood, WA. Her sister Dorothy King and brother Thomas Petersen died before her.

Virginia’s remains will be interred alongside her husband’s in Philips, Nebraska in the spring. She was tiny but tough, with spirit, and outlived her generation of family and friends. 

Memories and condolences can be shared with her family at