Virnetta was born Virnetta Nelson in Monticello, Arkansas in 1920. Her schooling was in Arkansas and California. Virnetta was a woman of action – known for committing time and providing leadership to get things done.
Virnetta came to Calgary in 1952. “V” was unique as a woman of colour. She became President of the Calgary Presbyterial, United Church Women; was a member of the executive of the Alberta United Church Women; and a Lay Commissioner to the United Church of Canada’s General Council (1968 to 1970).
Virnetta also was a member of the Mount Royal College Ladies Auxiliary; served as the President of Meals on Wheels (1971 to 1974); served on the Board of the City Core Senior Citizen Centre and Calgary Welcome and Recreation Centre; sat on the Board of the United Way (1974 to 1978); the boards of Trinity Lodge, Aunts at Large, Calgary Metropolitan Foundation, Calgary Tourist and Convention Association, and the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts (1975 to 1980). She has been both a board member and Chairman of the Calgary Committee for the Civic Centre, Chairman of the Calgary Family Services Bureau, and a member of Mayor Klein’s Advisory Committee.
Virnetta was elected to City Council in October 1974 and served until October of 1977. She was the first black member of Calgary City Council.
After civic politics, Virnetta undertook a career in real estate. She served as President of the Calgary Seniors Showcase Society and she also continued an active association with the United Way of Calgary. Virnetta was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Calgary Rotary Club in 1988.
In 1992 she was a nominee for the YWCA Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award, and received the Canada 125 Commemorative Medal. Virnetta was formerly married to Calgary football great Ezzrett “Sugarfoot” Anderson who passed away in 2017. She had three sons, one who passed away in 2015 and two who still live in Calgary.
In October, 2017, Virnetta posthumously received another tribute to the lasting effect she had on her community. The YWCA, in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday, honoured 150 women – including Virnetta – who have significantly impacted Calgary over the last 150+ years with the “She Who Dares” initiative. Her legacy lives on.