Spotlight COlorado  

Have You Met?

Even though I hadn’t yet met her, it was 2001 when I first heard someone recommend Virginia Bray as “the best massage therapist in town!”  Serendipitously, I met Virginia in 2006 when we both were members of the Kempe Children’s Alliance, and I remembered the glowing endorsement she was given five years before.

Always looking fresh-faced, Virginia has a strong, confident character with a lot of backbone, determination and staying power.  She’s a lady who’s not afraid to stand up for her values and principles. As well as being an excellent massage therapist, Virginia loves gourmet cooking and along with her husband, Lou, they often fix healthy culinary extravaganzas.

Virginia cherishes her relationship with her mom.  Virginia and her mom Alma are the best of friends and enjoy spending time together often whether it’s running errands to scheduled appointments or doing something fun.  Virginia just recently lost her only brother; Gerry (Otto) Otterpohl.  She was a good sister to him throughout the numerous ups and downs of his challenging life. 

With her sparkling, polished look, Virginia Bray is vibrant, high-spirited and an active member of the community.  Virginia loves to have lunch/dinner with her legions of friends and also enjoys spoiling young friends by taking them to tea, to the theatre or by supporting them by going to their recitals. As matter of fact, a good friend of Virginia’s, who just happened to come by as we were doing this interview at Whole Foods, wanted to be sure we mentioned in the “Have You Met” how highly he thought of Ms. Bray and what a nice, kind and genuine lady she is.  He went on to say: “Virginia has been a bright spot in the lives of many.”  

After a recent birthday, Virginia keeps getting better and better, and she says she is gleaning information for - as she calls it: “The renaissance of her life in her soon to be 50’s.”  Virginia receptively says: “Any ideas or suggestions for entrepreneurial ventures are welcome!”

When did you decide that becoming a massage therapist was the career you wanted?  I’m not a 9 to 5er, so I was looking for more flexibility in my schedule and being self-employed.

As a respected massage therapist, what are the biggest benefits of getting a massage on a regular basis?  There are many: It’s great for circulation, helps you sleep better, is healing, relaxes you and is good for your all around well-being.  It just makes you a better person.

Why should people pick you as their massage therapist over anyone else?  One of decadent offerings that makes me unique is I combine my skills and offer a 2 hour massage and facial, which is a very drool producing experience.  Clients love it!  I have 20 years of experience, and truly believe that makes a huge difference. I’m in my element as an experienced caregiver, and feel confident about my skills. Many of my clients have become friends - I’ve cried with them as well as sharing their joys.

Can you mention some of the non-profits you have been involved with?  The Kempe Foundation Alliance, Dominican Sisters Home Health Agency, Daughters of the British Empire,  Adoption Exchange, Assistance League.

How and why did you choose these organizations?  I’ve been involved with the Dominican Sisters Home Health Agency (DSHHA) since I was 12 years old.   The agency has been in existence for 85 plus years and gives free in home nursing and personal care to the sick, poor and elderly. Sr. Regis Nuva is the director and one of my most favorite people on the planet!!  The agency relies on the generosity of the community - individuals, churches, foundations and businesses - as the charity receives no government funding and no insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. 

 Daughters of the British Empire (DBE) is a social non-profit group with a cause. Our  members comprise those from the UK and Commonwealth as well as through ancestry.    It’s a wonderful group of ladies whom I enjoy very much.  I particularly enjoy the stories from our older members who are in their late 80’s/early 90’s of how they came to the US after WWII, and I really, really enjoy the friendships I’ve made with gals of all ages.     Did I mention that we love our tea and sherry….?  DBE’s annual fundraiser is the Victorian Tea held in October.  The money raised supports DBE retirement homes and various local causes. I’m a member because my grandfather on my dad’s side was from England.  It’s a nice way for me to honor my dad.

I chose The Kempe Foundation Alliance (treatment of child abuse and neglect) because of the late Georgia Imhoff.  Elizabeth Blake (Joe Blake’s deceased wife), a most favorite and dear friend and one who is sorely missed, introduced me to Georgia.  Georgia said “I need young girls like you,” and I was ready to be involved.  In the first year, I became chair of the Kempe summer fundraiser – “Salt on the Rim.”  The Assistance League is a group I belonged to several years ago and still support by going to their fundraisers.

You have been a member of the choir at Most Precious Blood Church for quite a while.  How did you become involved? I feel very lucky to be one of 75 members in the Most Precious Blood choir.   Our choir and parish is so different than any other.   Fr. Patrick Dolan is refreshingly wonderful, and the choir is filled with incredibly talented singers.  I’m glad to be a blender amongst the greats. I’ve also taught Religious Education at the Church of the Risen Christ with (Have You Met) Jill DiPasquale for 12 years to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. 

Who is the most interesting person you have ever met, and why?  Two People: My husband because he is the nicest, happiest and easiest person to be around.  He’s my Cary Grant – a classy man, has a martini every day, plays 3.5 tennis, enjoys his work, and has many wonderful friends.  I feel I’m married to a “National Treasure.”   

Mom too, because she is strong, has a great sense of humor and a dry wit - and with everything she’s been through, she is still full of faith, which is very important to her.

Do you have a favorite quote?  “Even more important than the warmth and affection we receive, is the warmth and affection we give. It is by giving warmth and affection, by having a genuine sense of concern for others, in other words through compassion, that we gain the conditions for genuine happiness. More important than being loved, therefore, is to love.”  From the Dalai Lama 

So far, what do you see as your greatest accomplishment?  My family and having so many friends.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?  Continuing to stimulate my brain through education, being a well respected and sought after health practitioner.  Hopefully, aging gracefully.

What is something you still want to learn how to do, i.e., a new language, sky-diving, etc.?   Learn to play golf, upgrade my bike and take more piano lessons.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Have just enough stress to keep the brain stimulated, beautiful views, and being with family and favorite friends.

Many of us consider you an expert on nutrition and good health.  When you look at someone that might not be in good health, what do you see as the first indicator of illness?   The face can be a telling indicator, especially if someone’s eyes are puffy; and the color and condition of their skin is also a way to determine health.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?  Holiday dinners/Special dinners/Sunday dinners with mom, dad, my brother, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Playing Mass with my cousins – wearing dish towels on our heads and using Necco wafers or potato chips as a communion.

What qualities do you look for in a friend?  Laughter, enjoyment, support, loyalty and honesty.

You are quite the culinary expert – always cooking up something good and healthy!  What is your favorite dish to make?  We enjoy having our meal as an event.  I love entertaining – connecting/blending friends who knew each other before or perhaps meeting for the first time then having brain stimulating conversation/discussions.    My husband is actually the one that makes the main dishes best such as crab cakes or chicken picatta.  My specialties are salads, veggies, pizza and rum cake – yum!

What are your favorite places to dine in Denver?  Strings, Cherry Creek Grill, Whole Foods (where we are now), English Tea Cup, House of Windsor, Highland’s Garden Café, Locanda del Borgo, Tables, Bruno’s, Andre’s, Gateaux Bakery,  The Perfect Landing, 240 Union, Max Gill and Grill, Palettes, and The Cheese Company.

How would you like to be remembered?  As a person who could talk to and make friends with everyone.  Someone who looked at and took into consideration the whole person and appreciated people for their strengths – and their weaknesses – for being human.