Whether she was hosting friends for a home-cooked meal or planning an office birthday party, Virginia Walters cherished the close-knit relationships she built over the years.

Walters, a longtime Capital City Press employee, died Wednesday at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center of complications from falling and hitting her head.

She was 95.

Walters was known for her prowess in the kitchen, where she whipped up seafood gumbo, Italian stuffed artichokes and the “best cornbread dressing in the world,” said Cathy Manship, a former coworker and close friend of 45 years.

“She was a strong, independent person, who loved people,” said Manship, the ex-wife of David Manship, former publisher of The Advocate.

Walters began work at Capital City Press in March 1947, rising to an accounting and circulation supervisor, until her retirement in February 1985.

She had a large circle of work friends with whom she remained close after retirement, Manship said. The group called themselves the “Oldies and Goodies,” she said.

“She called us her girls. We were still her girls,” Manship said.

Last month, during Walters’ 95th birthday, the group threw their former colleague a surprise party at her home, complete with horns, candles and king cake.

“She was so happy, just completely in her element,” Manship said.

Walters was born Jan. 26, 1920, in Baton Rouge, the daughter of Abe Neesom, a Standard Oil Co. employee, and Etta Neesom, a homemaker.

An Episcopalian who cooked seafood gumbo at St. James Episcopal Church every year during Lent, Walters was known for her strong Christian faith, Manship said.

“She loved her family and church very much. That’s what she said kept her in Baton Rouge her whole life,” Manship said.

Walters is survived by nine nieces and nephews and their children. She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Kenneth Walters, and her eight brothers and sisters.

Walters was buried beside her family Friday at Roselawn Memorial Park in Baton Rouge.

Editor’s note: This article was changed on Saturday, Feb. 21, to note that Cathy Manship was the ex-wife of David Manship, former publisher of The Advocate.