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Virginia Prieber

 
November 30, 2021

Spokesman Review photo by Jesse Tinsley
Virginia Prieber, 84, passed away peacefully on October 21, 2021, at the Boundary County Extended Care Facility. Born July 13, 1936, in Baltimore, Maryland, she gained national acclaim for keeping a long stretch of Boundary County roadway free of litter. No services are planned at this time.

At an early age, Virginia helped care for her brothers and sisters as her mother, Blanche Willet, and father, Carl O. Belloff, worked. She enjoyed helping her grandmother, Amelia, with the garden, an interest she carried all her life.

She attended local schools, graduating from Western High School in February 1954. Later that year, she married Henry Prieber, whom she had known for many years. They had no children.

Virginia worked in area hospitals for 24 years as a medical technician in pathology, starting at the John Hopkins Hospital and the Wilber Eye Clinic and continuing with surgical work at various city hospitals.

After her divorce, Virginia wanted a challenge in life, so in 1979, she packed everything she owned into a 14’ U-Haul and drove to North Idaho to stay with John Tesar.

Virginia loved the natural world, its animals, birds, the forest, the ocean and Round Prairie. She enjoyed sewing and spent countless hours hand stitching quilts for every cat and every related family group and she also quilted old tops. She made rugs and wall hangings, dying the wool herself. She continued gardening, supplying vegetables for most of the year.

And she became a familiar sight on Highway 95 at the north end of Boundary County.

In a piece from April 1992 that describes the humble origins of the adopt-a-highway program, a grassroots effort to keep roads clean, Edward Ziegler wrote in Reader's Digest, "Meanwhile, up along Bussard Ridge, near Bonners Ferry, Idaho, Virginia Prieber patrols 16 miles of Highway 95. Wearing a flowered floppy hat, logging gloves, and boots, Prieber, 55, a retired medi­cal technician, collected five truckloads of bottles and cans in 1991—2300 pounds in all. That’s in addition to the regular trash she picked up and hauled to a dump­ster in the settlement of Good Grief, Idaho. On one memorable occasion she found a sack of rubbish with its owner’s name on receipts inside. She wrapped up the trash and mailed it back to him, first­-class."

In a July 26, 1996, article, Spokesman Review reporter Richard Roesler wrote, "Prieber, 60, singlehandedly scours litter from 30 miles of U.S. Highway 95 near the Canadian border. She cleans both sides of the road. It takes two months."

She will be missed by John and her precious cats.

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