Virginia Exton Obituary (1949-2021) – Driggs, ID

Virginia “Vini” Norris Exton died at home of cholangiocarcinoma on September 29, 2021. She died as she lived, surrounded by loved ones, gracious and hilarious to the end.

Vini was born on May 10, 1949 in Hartford, Connecticut, to Barbara Coffin and Howard Everett “Squirrel” Norris. The eldest of 3 daughters, she attended Chaffee School in Windsor, CT, which she graduated in 1967, and Skidmore College in 1971 with her BA in English. In 1972 she received her MA in English from Stanford University.

Vini taught in Palo Alto, California, from 1972-74, then settled in Lander, Wyoming as a student at the National Outdoor Leadership School. From 1975 to 1983 she was a NOLS instructor, then from 1977 to 1979 a NOLS curriculum vitae.

Working for NOLS took her to Driggs, Idaho, the Tetons and Love. In 1978 she married Bill Scott and spent 10 adventurous years together. Vini founded the Main Street Case Company, where she designed and constructed hand-sewn musical instrument cases and other bespoke cases. In 1983, Vini worked for the Teton School District as the Director of Migrant Education and ESL Teacher. In 1989 she taught at Teton High School as an English teacher and drama coach. In 1990, Vini was named Person of the Year by Teton Valley News.

As an athlete, Vini had an impressive list of successes in the world of road bike racing, finishing 10th in the first national women’s stage race in the ID in 1984. As a member of the Snake River Cycling Club, she was a force to be reckoned with in time trial races and criteria in Idaho and Jackson, WY. Her impressive cycling times were instrumental in ensuring that her Women’s Racing Team won the Jackson Pole Pedal Paddle race four years in a row, a record that has never been broken to this day.

In 1993, Vini and Brad Exton married, which brought her the joy of parenting as a bonus mother to Brad’s children, Josh and Bailey. In 1996 they moved to Vernal, Utah. Vini has taught at Uintah High School and Utah State University. In 2002, she was named Researcher of the Year by the State of Utah. In 2005 she was named Utah State University Continuing Education Teacher of the Year. After 6 years of dedicated work, she achieved the status of Dr. Exton, Ed.D in English. In 2009, Vini received another Innovative Practices Award from Utah State University.

Vini retired in 2017 and discovered the Cool Creek Cooperative Neighborhood in the village of Mesa, Colorado while visiting friends in 2019. She took the chance to settle down in a common community and build her home on the Grand Mesa.

After her diagnosis in November 2020, she was gardening, hiking, skiing and paddling and was determined to see all 4 seasons in her new home. Ten weeks before her death, she went on a two-week Grand Canyon raft trip. She often said that nature, friends and family supported her through the difficult times of her illness. In addition to hospice care, she was lovingly cared for by her “wolf pack”, a small group of devoted friends who stayed with her until the end.

She leaves a rainbow of friends, family, students and colleagues who will forever be inspired by her legacy of lifelong learning and enjoyment.

Vini preceded her parents Barbara Coffin Norris and Howard Everett Norris and her younger sister Emily Norris in death.

She leaves behind her youngest sister Dorothy “Dedo” (Jim) Norris, son Josh (Marie) Merrill-Exton, daughter Bailey (AJ) Exton, and their grandchildren, Sage and Willow Merrill-Exton and Taygen and Dalton Reitz.

Celebrations of Vini’s life in Mesa, Colorado and the Teton Valley are planned for spring 2022.

Commemorative donations can be made to:

NOLS Scholarship Foundation

Via link:

Loomis Chaffee – Norris Teaching Environment Fund

Via link –

Published by Teton Valley News October 20-16, 2021.

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