Victoria was the only child born to Victor and Dorothy Ligda. She was born five and a half months after her father’s death.
When she was seven, her mother sold her home at 401 Taurus Avenue in Oakland and bought a home at 31 Boulevard Court in Walnut Creek. Tori was raised in that home and attended schools in Walnut Creek.
Tori graduated from Del Valle High School in 1973 and entered the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Fall of that year. In addition to her college classes, she worked in a cooperative education program as a teachers aide to speech therapists. As an avid dancer, she was active in the Folkdance Club. Club activities provided the opportunity of meeting her husband-to-be, Earl Fredrick Witt. Earl and Tori became engaged during her senior year.
Tori graduated with honors in 1977, completing a double major in Linguistics and Psychology. She took her first job as the Head Teacher of a day care center in Concord, California. She was working there when she and Earl married on July 2, 1978. The ceremony was in the garden of her mother’s home in Walnut Creek. The Witt’s first home was at 1773 Oakland Boulevard, #8 in Walnut Creek. They later moved to 1595 Third Avenue in the same city.
In 1979, Tori was accepted into the Bay Area Writer’s Project, a graduate program at the University of California, Berkeley, designed to teach teachers how to teach writing. In 1980, she earned teaching credentials in English, Mathematics, and Social Sciences. For the next four years, she taught 7th, 8th, and 9th Grade English at Vallejo Junior High School.
The Witt’s first son, Alan Nicholas Witt, was born December 11, 1983. In 1984, Earl earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, and took a temporary postdoctoral position at the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. The family moved to 24 Spencer Road, Apt. 24N, Boxboro, Massachusetts. Tori obtained a temporary position teaching 6th Grade English at Concord Middle School in Concord, Massachusetts, but when she was unable to obtain a position the next year, she remained home with Alan and started a fantasy novel.
The Witts had a hard time adjusting to New England. Both missed family and friends on the West Coast When Earl’s temporary position ended, the family returned to California where Earl concentrated his search for a permanent position. He joined Mission Research in Santa Barbara. The family moved to 4061-C Foothill Road, Santa Barbara. They were living there when their second son, Perryn Alexander Witt, was born on April 6, 1987.
In June, 1987, the Witts bought their first home, a 1,100 square foot three bedroom condominium at 1270-5 Franciscan Court in Carpinteria, 10 miles south of Santa Barbara. In addition to raising her sons, Tori continued her writing. She completed one novel. While attempting to sell it, she worked on two others. She made time to sew and quilt, tie-dye and batik. On June 24, 1991, the Witts had a daughter, Kylie Alexis.
In 1989, Perryn, was diagnosed with leukemia. He was hospitalized twice that year, first for two weeks in Los Angeles, later in Santa Barbara. His outpatient treatment required weekly trips to Los Angeles, days Tori described as: “ . . . brutally long; some days I’ve left here at 7 a.m. and not gotten home until 8 p.m.” Tori gave up her writing to concentrate on what she had to do for Perryn’s care. By the end of the year, his cancer was in remission, but he relapsed at the end of 1992. To compound the family’s problems, Earl lost his job with cutbacks in the defense sector. With the exception of two temporary jobs, he was unemployed for three years. The family used his retirement savings on living expenses and Perryn’s medical insurance. Despite the care provided, Perryn’s cancer could not be contained. He died on June 11, 1995 – just eight years old. The months that followed were overwhelming. Tori reported:
“The first day of school was hard, Halloween was sad, Thanksgiving was especially difficult, and Christmas was celebrated on eggshells. Nevertheless, we got through it, only to face more changes. Right after Christmas, Earl was interviewed for a real job in New Hampshire. He was offered the position, and after an intense week of soul-searching, we decided that accepting it was the only viable option we had.”
In February, Earl moved to an apartment in Nashua, New Hampshire to begin his new job. Tori and the children followed. After their condominium sold, they began a house-hunt concentrating around Hollis, an area Tori described as:
“. . . rural with lots of apple and peach orchards. They grow strawberries, corn, pumpkins, flowers, and things I can’t recognize. I see sheep, cattle, and lots and lots of horses. There are trees everywhere, mixed pines and hardwoods. It’s very pretty.”
The Witts were delighted to find 97 Richardson Road, a 2,300 square foot home on two acres. Tori said: “I was greedy; I’ve lived in very small houses or apartments my entire life and I wanted space!” They bought the home in July, occupied it in August, and set about converting it to their tastes. By the end of the year, Tori indicated:
“I think we are going to enjoy New Hampshire . . . we all love living in a house . . . we enjoyed the change of the seasons. Spring was beautiful and green. Summer was miserable with insects, but the heat wasn’t bad. Fall was fun; lovely weather, and gorgeous leaves . . . We still miss Perryn terribly, but the new environment does not remind us of him so constantly . . .”.
Tori filled her leisure hours with hobbies. She wrote extensively beginning a series of books that would continue to occupy her for many years. She made jewelry. In 1990, she declared her latest hobby as gardening their two acres. “The only problem is that they have bugs here. I really miss the comparative lack of insects in California.”
On June 24, 1991, Tori gave birth to a daughter, Kylie.
In 1999, the Witts came to California for the Ligda Family Reunion in Vallejo gining their children their initial opportunity of meeting many of their relatives for the first time.
Alan graduated from Hollis-Brookline High School in 2002 after some notable accomplishments that included parts in school plays, receipt of the USMC “Semper Fidelis” Award for musical excellance, and becoming a National Merit finalist. In the Fall, he began his college career at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Tori reported feeling sad at his leaving although looking forward, “to less laundry.”
In 2004, she reported selling almost $300 worth of her jewelry, but wouldn’t say: “. . . how much I spent on supplies.” She had completed three novels that she continued revising while she undertook her fourth under the encouragement of a writers group at the local library. Later that year she joined her mother, half-sister, Leslie and her husband, Don, on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera where she enjoyed, “ . . . seeing the cliff divers at night, swimming with the dolphins in Ixtapa, and getting to release a one day old endangered sea turtle in Manzanillo.”
In 2005, she quit many of the local groups she attended as well as the craft fair circuit. “ . . .after selling all her scarves and lots of my jewelery,” to concentrate her time finishing, “ . . . the last revision of the first book in my series (as well as finishing the first draft of the fifth and hopefully last book.” She looked for support from others in her writers group in making revisions, but admitted difficulty in finding an agent or potential publisher.
Kylie graduated from Hollis-Brookline High School in 2009 and began her college career at Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts. Tori proclaimed she and Earl had, “ . . . achieved EMPTY NEST.” Alan, having graduated from college, returning home, and working at Pelham High School and the Hollis Library, moved to enter graduate school at the University of Rhode Island. Tori visited her cousin, Carol, in Michigan where she had her entire book critiqued and left planning further revisions. She posted her journal at http://toriw7.livejournal.com., but in 2010 reported she was, “ . . . in a writing slump and have done very little. I went back to the book I wrote second . . . and have been attempting to turn what was written as a history into something that works as a novel. I am finding it tough going . . .”
In 2010, Earl got a new job that involved hanging a new sign on the door. He and two others from the former company resigned after making arrangements with a new company that kept the same office space as well as the same work on the same contract. He and Tori found time to visit China on a trip sponsored by a local Chamber of Commerce. She reported, “We have walked on the Great Wall and seen the Forbidden Palace with our own eyes.”
In 2011, Earl found new work and began a project that he enjoyed. Tori opened a shop at Second Life where, “I get paid real money, but the amount is miniscule – far less than I spend on the shop’s rent. However, I get a great deal of pleasure from seeing others wearing my creations . . .” Both continued their work into the next year with Earl’s company adding an intern and another employee and sending him away on business trips that Tori described as, “ . . . the only downside,” to the job.