A Burbank resident of 57 years, Virginia Pinnow, will celebrate her 100th birthday on Sunday, Sept. 19.
Virginia Pinnow was born Virginia Pokorney in 1921 in Racine, Wisconsin, where she attended Catholic primary school and secondary school during her upbringing. Following moving to Southern California, she met the late Ray Pinnow in Santa Monica while he and a friend were serving in the Navy, and the two later married in 1948.
Prior to their union, Pinnow contributed to the war effort through her work with aerospace company Lockheed Corporation in the early 1940s. She, along with her coworkers and other women across the United States, became known as Rosie the Riveters and remain iconic symbols of WWII efforts through their arduous labor at factories and shipyards. In addition, Pinnow was for a time employed at the Lockheed Library in Burbank, which was later moved to a Palmdale location.
“I loved it over there,” Pinnow said of working for Lockheed Corporation. “I worked swing shift[s] and worked with a lot of nice people. Everybody treated each other real nice and took the bus to work and the bus back home, and we just had a good time.”
After marrying Ray, the couple began a family in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where they had their five children. When Ray secured a job as a butcher at a private meat company, the family subsequently relocated to Burbank in 1965.
One of Pinnow’s favorite pastimes throughout her residency in Southern California has been square dancing. She danced for many years at numerous locations throughout the San Fernando Valley, and continued this pastime up until her early 80s.
“I liked dancing all the time,” Pinnow said. “I did a lot of modern dancing, and so I decided to take some square dance lessons and I loved it.”
St. Francis Xavier Church is the kindergarten through eighth grade program that all of Pinnow’s children attended while growing up in Burbank. She is still a parishioner of the church and is actively involved in their ladies society. Through the church, she has also knitted counteless blankets and given them away to those in need.
Pinnow’s youngest son, Chuck, co-owned The Hot Dog restaurant in Burbank with her for over a decade. The local eatery was located at Hollywood Way and Verdugo Ave. Pinnow, her son and employees of The Hot Dog together served delicious meals while creating positive memories with the Burbank community.
“You meet a lot of nice people in a place like that and I helped my son out also,” Pinnow said of her time at The Hot Dog Restaurant. “So we had a good time.”
Pinnow’s five children are Rudy Pinnow, John Pinnow, Tom Pinnow, Patti Pinnow-Rowe, and Chuck Pinnow, whose ages range from 61 to 71. She also has four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Pinnow-Rowe lives at home with Pinnow in the same home the family has occupied since moving to Burbank from Minnesota. She says that her mother’s milestone celebration is a first for the family, and means even more due to the quality time Pinnow is still able to spend with loved ones.
“It’s really awesome. No one in our family so far…has ever turned 100,” Pinnow-Rowe said. “[Pinnow is] 100 without dementia and she’s not in a convalescent home. So that’s a good thing….she’s really lucky. Not just to be this [age], but to have somebody taking care of her at her own home where she’s comfortable and she feels safe.”
As she approaches her 100th Birthday, Pinnow stays active through climbing exercises, using leg weights to build muscular strength, and occasionally going on walks up and down her driveway. Along with preserving her physical health, she prioritizes maintaining an optimistic mental outlook that focuses on seeing the good in others.
“All people are nice,” Pinnow said. “If you treat them decently, they treat you nicely. And I just like living at home with my daughter.”