Virginia Walker Riley was born in 1931, and lived her whole life in Milwaukee. Virginia worked for the Visiting Nurse Association as a visiting nurse–the only one in the city that rode the city bus to her appointments. Her children, John and Susan were both enrolled at the Cross Lutheran school next to the church. In large part because of that connection, she decided to join. The family was received for membership in 1959.
Although Virginia was one of a group of African-American members to join Cross, most were not active; Virginia has long been recognized as the first African-American to be truly active at Cross.
One of Virginia’s most notable achievements (among many) was becoming the congregation’s first African American council president.
Those who remember her also note that, when not in her church uniform, she favored wearing shades of red.
Virginia’s participation in the church is a tradition and value passed on to her son, John, who remains active today.