Virginia “Pic” Walenta

A remembrance by Shawn Williams.

It’s January 23rd, 2020 and we’re all struggling with the words this morning…

It’s going to be very difficult moving on without her spirit. The grief is as difficult as her light was bright.
This earth has lost a soul whose light, love and laughter radiated to touch so many. Her hats were many! Adventurer, Trail Builder, Campfire Aficionado, Dancer, Camp Chef, Cave Explorer and Restorer, Float Tripper, Wine Connoisseur, Cheer Leader, Trip Leader, Dutch Oven Master, Gate Builder, Ridge Walker, MVOR Planner, Wander Woman, Fundraiser, Mother, and Grammie. She gave so selflessly to so many and we all loved her so much in return. Her strengths and her sorrows helped all of us. She knew how to make people feel important, useful, and appreciated. She was a deep and integral part of our world. We all had a nickname: Pean, Bean, Honey, Girly, Bunny, and Sweetie to name a few. THAT LAUGH!!!, it was contagious, and anyone who knew Pic can probably hear it right now!!! We had so many adventures planned ahead…

After the sudden death of her son Duffey (Duff) several years ago, Pic grieved deeply. She knew the best way to overcome great sadness was to find a purpose in life. She doted on her granddaughter Olivia aka Pean (short for Peanut). A little girl, who like Pic, is so full of life it’s contagious! When Pic was ready to return to the caving world, she immersed herself into the Kansas City Area Grotto. She became its President and made a goal to bring life back to KCAG. She would seek out each person and find a way to give them purpose, just like she had done for herself. She was a true leader in a most motherly, loving, nurturing way.

She considered all of us cavers her family. She’d often say “I don’t know where I would be without my grotto family and my Pean”. She loved us as if, indeed, we were family.
We all miss her dearly but realize Pic will never be gone. She left such a mark on each of us. Immortality is reached by those that leave a mark on the world that can’t be erased. No matter where they are in body, they live on forever in our souls and the relationships that we build. Each of us who knew her carry Pic in our hearts. We will carry her into the future with every cave we visit, each glass of wine or cup of morning coffee we drink, and every rainstorm that pours on us during a cave restoration.

Curse of the COVID.
Our hearts had been set on the memorial we were to have for her in April which now has no date at all, save for a small, immediate family celebration. Celebrating her life seems to be unjustly denied us, again. We could never sum up her life in a few hours over a few drinks and a campfire…the stories alone could last for weeks. Our sweet, feisty, wild, adventurous, free spirit, soul sister and speleo cousin, no words will ever honor you enough or define the depth of truly wonderful person you were and how your loss effects so many, so deeply. Our grief will remain on hold longing for the day to connect with the many others who loved Pic too: To laugh, to cry, to bring Pic back to life for just a moment with our shared stories. She deserves more. Rest easy now. Drink the wine. Sip the harder stuff. Eat the Mexican. Dance the dance. Sing along. Laugh. See the whole world. There is no more unknown for you to explore or experience. You have found it. Until we meet again.

Virginia “Pic” Walenta was born in 1956 in Iowa City, IA. She passed away on January 22, 2020 from complications of a sudden cerebral aneurysm and hemorrhagic stroke while on vacation with members of her caving family in the Dominican Republic. She was preceded in death by her parents, ex-husband Mike Welch, and two sons,
Benjamin & Duffey Welch. She is survived by her granddaughter, Olivia Welch and her siblings Patti, Theresa, Robin & Mike. A celebration of Pic’s life, postponed due to the pandemic, will be planned at a later date.

Photo of Pic Walenta
Pic Walenta, smiling as usual.