December 2012 home page

Virginia Igonda:
March 10, 1935 - Nov. 7, 2012
Carol Mason | Serpentine Drive


Virginia sipping mate in the garden of her home in Monte Sueños, Vilcabamba, Ecuador.
Photo Sergio Lub


In her garden the morning after her mother died Virginia told me, Marguerite “had moved to another address.” I feel that my dear friend, Virginia Igonda, has done the same. She is just across the freeway perhaps, or vacationing in Spain or visiting family in Sonoma or enjoying the recent life she made for herself in Ecuador at Montesuenos, a cultural conference center in Vilcabamba. Her life force was so powerful that everyone who knew her felt affirmed or comforted or strengthened or encouraged.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s she was the cultural magnet and doyenne. Her shop, Ocean Song Gallery-Musica Del Mar drew us all for lectures, music performances, and tango and Spanish lessons. Many times we overflowed onto the sidewalk and had to be mindful of the fire regulations.

Virginia’s store was the place to hang out, meet interesting people and listen to world music, balladeers, string trios, guitarists, South American harpists. Artists, musicians, poets and writers were encouraged and helped by Virginia and her partner, Jim Meadows. Together they commissioned work, then sold it or showed it in the gallery to give artists and musicians a foothold. Locals among them were Susan Beere, Robert Mason, Peter Sprague, Sheri Ritchlin, Alfredo Ortiz, Laurel Burch and many others. Virginia’s excellent taste in international gifts and jewelry helped all shoppers find just that right item. Poetry readings and talks by writers, philosophers, scientists, scholars and psychologists resulted in yeasty discourse that became Del Mar’s brand.

Born in Mendoza, Argentina, Virginia came to New York and eventually settled in Del Mar with her children Alejandra and Gabriel Cisneros. Alejandra, an architect and designer, now lives in Bali and Gabriel, an attorney, lives in Spain. Since leaving Del Mar Virginia, a natural citizen of the world, has lived in Italy, Argentina and Ecuador. In one of her recent emails she said she “continues to transverse the globe up and down and sideways.” At Montesuenos, owned by former Del Marian Meredith Miller, Virginia was hostess, translator, and blithe spirit making everyone welcome and comfortable.

For a few years while living in Orvieto, Italy and Buenos Ares, Virginia would return to Del Mar at tax time each year. She would come to a deck near her beloved Serpentine Drive house, where she had lived for 30 years, to commune with the Torrey Pines and the ocean and visit her friends. Conversation was always searching and stimulating for her mind was philosophical and captivating. She sought answers to the world’s large questions through myth, the I Ching, and scientific knowledge and serious pondering.

When news of her passing came, the email tributes and memories and condolences fluttered across the internet in Del Mar and around the states and throughout the world for Virginia had friends everywhere. Alejandra suggested that local friends share her grief and celebrate her mother by dancing a few steps along the edge of the waves, sending a flower out to sea, listening to her favorite music, sharing a cup of tea, and a story or two. We are doing those things, and more, for when a friend dies and leaves a hole in your heart and in the hearts of many, you have known an extraordinary person.

For another remembrance of Virginia, by author Sheri Ritchlin, click here

Poem by Sheri Ritchline here


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