Virginia Critchley Arbulich, a resident of Los Altos since 1960, died June 1 of pneumonia. Mrs. Arbulich was 88.
Family members remember the Salt Lake City native best as a devoted mother, as well as “an extended mother to all of their friends, and their friends, and their friends. ... She was endless with her quiet compassion and welcoming hospitality.”
The Arbulichs moved to Los Altos in 1960 and purchased a one-of-a-kind property at 350 University Ave. The house, built in 1917, sat on 2.5 acres, which today is much of Shoup Park. Family members recalled that Mrs. Arbulich adored her property and could be seen driving a tractor at midnight around the yard.
She founded the Tom Thumb Nursery School, working as school administrator, director and teacher. Mrs. Arbulich grew the school to 14 different facilities.
“Even as busy as she was, her children and their activities were foremost, so she’d run back and forth during the day between several of her schools and 350 University to see what was up,” recalled her son Scott.
Reading and collecting porcelain plates numbered among her many hobbies.
As a single, working mom back in the 1950s and 1960s, Scott said Mrs. Arbulich “made things happen on her own.”
“Mrs. A was so innovative, creative and frugal,” Scott said. “Back then, Mrs. A had in mind several improvements to her property, but hiring a contractor was too expensive. So when it came to adding a desired sprinkler system, she went to the library and read up on all it would take to complete – then installed her own version, and it worked!”
She also had a living unit built under the house for her mother.
“The digging, the framing, the electrical, etc., came to fruition,” Scott said, “and it all turned out successfully, without permits.”
Mrs. Arbulich was well known around the neighborhood in those early days.
“Whether you strolled, biked, drove, sneaked out or rode your horse over, you knew you’d never be turned away,” Scott said. “In fact, many friends would stop by even when (other family members) were not at home.”
Said Scott: “She factors into so many of our lives, some of the most important and, yes, daring times of our growing-up years. But who would we all be without her?”
Mrs. Arbulich is survived by sons Scott and Mark Arbulich. There are no services planned.