Ginger Scarpino was born in Salinas, California. Her family included her parents and three sisters. She led a quiet, she might even have said “boring” life through the age of 18 when she graduated high school. Then she met Kevin Cuffney (as he was known then) at the gas station where he worked.
She had met him before, in 6th grade. He was obnoxious and she would have never given him a second look back then. But, despite that memory, she agreed to a date. And just 3 months later, on November 20, 1970, they were married. No one thought they would make it.
In August of the next year, they welcomed their only child, Heather. Kevin became a corrections officer and Ginger sold Avon, which was kind of ironic considering that she was never a girly-girl. The family moved to Grants Pass, OR in 1978, and never looked back. Ginger thrived as a teacher’s assistant, ice cream maker, and deli employee. But P.K. (as Kevin was then known) was looking for a career change, and the family threw themselves into making wooden toys and traveling for craft fairs nearly every weekend. Ginger embraced the adventure of this unusual lifestyle. She got to travel to places like Reno, Portland, Seattle, and small coastal towns throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Later, Ginger started branching out making birdhouses on her own. She made many friends in the craft community and became a fixture at the Grants Pass Grower’s Market.
Fast forward and Ginger and Paul (yes, he changed his moniker again!) began managing the RV park next door. They had their 30-year anniversary there recently.
Ginger loved leading the Ratrod-o-Rama car show for several years. She was able to combine her passions for hot rods and helping animals, and this was a source of pride for her.
About four and a half years ago, Ginger had a serious medical scare. At the time she went to the hospital, doctors were ready to call in hospice, saying there was nothing they could do. But Ginger wouldn’t have it. She dug deep, lost an extraordinary amount of weight, and did everything the doctors said just for a sliver of a chance and a surgery which would give her a new heart valve. She died on the table more than once and Heather and her husband watched in horror as she received CPR once returned to her room. She went back to surgery for a pacemaker and then did not wake up for 5 days. Her family mourned for her then, but she was stubborn and determined to come back to us. We got 4 and a half more years with her that we didn’t think we would have. And she got to remind Paul that she died 5 times, which she reminded him of often. He could deny her nothing when she played that card.
Some of her favorite experiences include road trips with the family and seeing some great live music including ZZ Top, Tenacious D, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Beach Boys, The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, and Huey Lewis and the News (Heather’s favorite). She was the matron of honor at her daughter’s wedding and that was very special to her. And Ginger was supportive of Paul’s racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats, a lifelong dream he achieved at the age of 60. Ginger was the happiest when she could help others soar. It often seemed as though she was living vicariously through others, but she was the strength pushing us all forward, being our cheerleader.
Ginger will be remembered as many things. As wife to Paul (aka Kevin, aka P.K.), they celebrated 50 years of marriage last November. It was a milestone that unfortunately could not be properly celebrated due to Covid. As a mom and mother-in-law to Nate she was beloved for her cooking, her humor, and her heart. To her grand-dogs she was Nana, always ready with treats and belly rubs. They still look for her every time. And she was a great friend. Ginger had rekindled friendships from high school thanks to Facebook. And she remained friends with her former neighbor and childhood friend she had known for more than 60 years. She also had numerous friends who referred to her as their sister or second mom.
Ginger knew she was slowing down and seemed to know the end was near in the days before her passing. She left Paul with enough food for two lifetimes so she could be sure he would have something to eat and ensuring she would be taking care of him even when she was not here. She said often in those last few days how much she loved him and the life they had built. In her way, she was saying goodbye.
She will be missed by many at the RV park, by her friends old and new, by her family, and by people that barely knew her. She made that kind of an impact. Her regular cashier at Ray’s would become a lifelong friend, she would know the teller’s kid’s names when she went to the bank, and she would be there with a treat for all the dogs in Beavercreek RV, greeting each one by name. We were all so fortunate to have the time we did with her. At 68, it would be easy to be sad and angry that she should have had more time, and we should have had more time with her, but we choose to be grateful to have had any time at all.
Like a shadow in the moonlight
Like the whisper of the seas
Like the echoes of a melody
Just beyond our reach
In the shadow of our sorrow
Past the whisper of goodbye
Love shines through eternity
A heartbeat from our eye
“Love Shines Through” - unknown