Pioneer pro-life advocate Virginia Evers, the creator of the Precious Feet lapel pin, died July 17 at the age of 99.
Evers designed the Precious Feet pin following the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, hoping it would be a symbol for the pro-life movement.
She had seen a photo in her local newspaper of the tiny feet of a 10-week-old baby on the one-year anniversary of Roe and was haunted by the picture. Modeled after the image, the Precious Feet would become the international pro-life symbol, with tens of millions distributed around the world.
Evers and her husband Ellis, who preceded her in death, were active in pro-life work beginning well before the Roe decision legalized abortion nationwide, with some U.S. states having legalized abortion before the national ruling.
Evers was the mother of six, grandmother of 28 and great-grandmother of 70. Throughout her life she would come to know and associate with leaders in the pro-life, political and religious arenas.
Virginia and Ellis Evers had opened a small shop in 1973 leading up to the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, featuring American-made patriotic items.
The shop, Heritage House '76, proceeds from which supported a home for unwed mothers and a local crisis pregnancy service, began distributing the Precious Feet pin. Decades later it is one-of the largest providers of pro-life material in the world, including offering innovative pregnancy center curriculum.
After Evers and her husband retired from Heritage House ’76 in the early 1990s, their daughter and son-in-law, Dinah and Mike Monahan, took over the company. Mike Monahan died in 2016. His and Dinah’s son Brandon now leads Heritage House ’76.
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Pro-life leaders noted Evers’s passing and her legacy.
“What is so striking and compelling about Virginia's legacy is how strongly her family carries it forward,” said Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International. “While she sowed a powerful symbol in the Precious Feet, she really gifted anointed, talented, and committed family members that continue to move and shape the pro-life movement today.”
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, wrote about Evers’s passing in an Instagram post, including a photo of Evers presenting him with a Precious Feet pin.
“May she rest in peace,” Pavone said.
Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, wrote about Evers for the National Catholic Register, calling Evers, “the woman whose stamp will be forever imprinted on the pro-life movement.”
Evers was a patriot and active in the conservative movement. Among the political figures with whom she corresponded was then-actor Ronald Reagan. Evers developed a friendship with him and encouraged to run for office.
Dismayed by the vitriol directed at American soldiers returning from serving in the Vietnam war, Evers and her husband created one of the first Vietnam memorials in their hometown in 1970.
Brandon Monahan remarked on the impact his grandmother had on her family.
“Virginia was friends of presidents and popes,” he said, “but she was always grandma to me and grandma-great to my children.”
“She was always a joy to be around,” said Brandon Monahan. “At least once a week she would have, "the best meal I have ever eaten." She would bring gifts of lemonade and cookies to the grand kids, with whom her husband would be sharing the joys of hard work.”
“She was sassy and ready with wonderful barbed humor that delighted her grandchildren,” he added.
Brandon Monahan continued regarding his grandmother’s persona and passion.
“She was kind and constantly positive, creative, and a woman that simply would get the job done,” he said. “From creating the first Vietnam war memorial in the country, to starting a patriotic store in California (Heritage House), she simply did what she knew was right.”
“She refused to stop working and wrote letters as she emphatically proclaimed the cause of life into her nineties,” he stated. “In short, she lived her life well, and made an impact that will be felt for generations.”
Evers’s daughter Dinah Monahan reflected on her mother’s kind spirit and love of life as well.
“Mom’s smile, warmth and generosity left an impact on everyone she met,” she said. “Her arms were always open wide, and her heart was big enough to offer love to one more grandchild, one more stranger, one more single mother, one more baby.”
“She spread the pro-life message until her last breath,” said Dinah Monahan.
Tweet This: “She spread the pro-life message until her last breath,” Dinah Monahan, on her mother Virginia Evers
“Virginia lived a full, productive and meaningful life,” she continued. “So many other lives are changed for the good because they knew her. We celebrate her passing and thank God for the many years she was with us.”
Evers had written the story of the Precious Feet, recounting testimonies of how they had affected people, encouraging them toward life, and what she considered most important about the impression the Precious Feet had made.
“The greatest reward for our labor is the fact that the Precious Feet save babies lives,” she said.
Editor's note: Dinah Monahan wrote a reflection on her mother's passing, which can be found HERE, along with Virginia Evers's written account of the story of the Precious Feet.