Virginia "Ginny" Heinlein, born Virginia Doris Gerstenfeld, was a chemist, biochemist, engineer, and the third wife of Robert A. Heinlein, a prominent and successful author once known as one of the "Big Three" of science fiction.
Born to George and Jeanne Gerstenfeld, Virginia was raised in Brooklyn and had one brother, Leon. She was red-haired, an organic chemist and biochemist, and served as an inspiration for many of the active and talented red-haired women in Heinlein's stories. She met Robert when they both worked at the Naval Air Experimental Station in Philadelphia when she was a lieutenant in the WAVES in the U.S. Navy in World War II. She moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to take an advanced degree, where Heinlein had already relocated after the war. They married on October 21, 1948 in Raton, New Mexico. Shortly thereafter they moved to Colorado, but in 1965 her health was chronically affected by the altitude, so the couple moved to Bonny Doon, California.
Prior to a trip to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Virginia learned to speak Russian, which proved invaluable in talking with local citizens. Virginia Heinlein was highly esteemed among her husband's fans for her exceptional willingness to correspond with them and/or to otherwise acknowledge them. This continued until her last days, with activity in a Usenet newsgroup devoted to Heinlein fans. She was very touched when other users sent her Mother's Day greetings, an homage to her bestowing the title of "Heinlein's Children" on Robert's fans worldwide.