Virginia Crespo, a prominent El Dorado County activist who was a leader in political and civic groups, died April 26 of a heart attack caused by heart disease, her husband said. She was 62.
A Sacramento native, Mrs. Crespo had a strong interest in public affairs since she served as a legislative intern at the state Capitol in 1968. She was widely consulted by local officials in El Dorado County as an informed resident in many areas of community life, including housing, transportation, culture, education and voting.
She was founding president of the Placerville Area League of Women Voters and president of the El Dorado West Republican Women Federated club. As chairwoman of a citizens advisory group, she played a key role in funding and construction of the Bass Lake truck lane on Highway 50. She kept an eye on government spending as the first woman president of the Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County.
Besides influencing public policy, Mrs. Crespo was active in efforts to improve quality of life in the community. Shortly after settling in El Dorado County in 1986, she joined a group of residents who worked successfully to build a new public library in Cameron Park. She served as secretary of the Affordable Housing Coalition of El Dorado County and helped organize United Outreach, a faith-based group assisting homeless families to obtain housing, food and social services.
She was a substitute teacher in El Dorado County schools and mentored young people in a literacy program. As a member of a master food preservers program, she was a board member and judge at county fairs throughout Northern California. She was a longtime member of the Placerville Shakespeare Club and belonged to the El Dorado County chapter of American Association of University Women.
“Virginia was always very engaged and put 100 percent of herself in everything,” said her husband, Dave. “She had this insatiable curiosity about everything, and she had to get involved.”
Born July 25, 1951, the former Virginia Weeks graduated from Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento in 1969. She married her childhood sweetheart Dave Crespo in 1976 and lived in the El Dorado County community of Rescue.
After bookkeeping and accounting jobs, she worked as a quality-assurance auditor for engineering giant Bechtel Corp. on the construction of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1995 and an elementary teaching credential in 2000 from Chapman College.
Mrs. Crespo, who acted in theater productions in high school and college, was a trained coloratura soprano with “incredible range and power,” her husband said. As a teenager, she attended the Pacific Music Camp at University of the Pacific and studied under conductor Carmen Dragon and baritone Robert McFerrin Sr. of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Although she sang with choirs and choral groups in Northern California in the late 1980s, she declined a professional career in music.
“She loved her family roots in California, and she knew that she’d have to live on the road in hotels” as a performer, he said. “She didn’t want that life. She wanted to be engaged in the community she lived in.”
In addition to her husband of 38 years, Mrs. Crespo is survived by her mother Emma Glines Weeks and her brother Lance Weeks.
Donations may be made to the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association or any El Dorado County charity.