Born July 14, 1907 in Bellevue, Kentucky, Virginia Weiffenbach was the only child of architect Norman Weiffenbach and his wife Clara. Virginia moved to Dayton with her parents when she was a small child, where she first met Eugene Kettering at the experimental Moraine Park School on Southern Boulevard. As their friendship grew, Virginia became like a member of the Kettering family household. She shared Eugene’s love of aviation and they were married on April 5, 1930. During the 40s and 50s, the family lived in Hinsdale, Illinois, with their three children, Charles, Susan and Jane.
Health care was a major focus of the Kettering family’s philanthropy. Charles Kettering and Alfred Sloan established the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute in New York. The elder Kettering also supported efforts to develop a research institute in Dayton that would be dedicated to the study of heart disease and space medicine. The death of Charles Kettering in 1958 brought Eugene and Virginia back to Dayton to manage the family’s affairs. They began their mission to improve the quality of life for Daytonians. In honor of the elder Kettering, ground was broken for the Charles F. Kettering Memorial Hospital on July 7, 1961.
In the late 1960s, the two were heavily involved in building a permanent structure to house the United States Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Eugene Kettering was adamant in his view that Dayton should be the home of the United States Air Force Museum and he was the first chairman of the board of the Air Force Museum Foundation. Eugene Kettering died in 1969, never seeing the completion of the Air Force Museum. Virginia Kettering’s determination, logic and meticulous attention kept the projects on track. “Mrs. K” as she was affectionately called, had a clear vision of what was needed in Dayton and she worked tirelessly to “light fire” under other members of the community.
Mrs. Kettering also generated a movement that would save the historic Victoria Theatre in downtown Dayton and she has had a major impact behind-the-scenes on other arts-related projects, as well as supporting the local universities.
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