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Viola Elder

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VIOLA ELDER July 2, 1924 - June 13, 2006 Viola Elder was born on July 2, 1924. Her parents were Pascal and Suebirta Conley. Viola had one sister, Juanita, and five brothers, Oscar, Roosevelt, Henderson, Thurman, and Houston. She was raised on the family far m in Tony, Alabama, right outside of Huntsville. After graduating from high school, Viola went to Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. Viola worked in Washington, DC during World War II as a clerk typist for the Department of War. She also briefly worked as a typist for a Washington DC newspaper. She married Randolph Elder in 1947 at the age of 21. Randy and Viola moved to California in 1949 at which time her eldest son, Kirk, was born. Larry was born three years later. Her youngest child, Dennis, was born almost two years after that. Viola joined Western Knoll Congregational Church where she also taught Sunday School. She was a den mother for her sons' cub scout troop and also co-sponsored the cubs' related little league baseball team on which her sons played. The family started a cafe, Elder's Snack Bar, in the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles, in the early 1960s. After helping her husband get the restaurant up and going, Viola began working for the phone company as a clerk. Soon, she was p romoted to supervisor where she remained until she retired. Active in church and charitable organizations, Viola-an excellent seamstress-volunteered as a sewing instructor for a local public junior high school. In 1984, she served as a seamstress coordinator for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Los Angeles Olympics. She continued her church and community work for the rest of her life. Many people knew her as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because she appeared weekly on her son Larry's nationally syndicated radio show. For almost ten years, she brought charm, humor, and-most of all-commonsense to her hour-long Friday radio show appearance. Her radio work led to offers to appear in national television commercials. She appeared in a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial and another for Kellogg's cereal. Viola also accepted speaking engagements and appeared on television talk shows. The Friday before she passed, a caller to Larry's radio show referred to Viola as "America's Mom." You c ould almost see her smile through the radio. When a close family friend learned of her death, he said, "She crackled with energy and I saw that every time I saw her. She was so observant and so thoughtful that I wish I could have been like that. I will miss her terribly." Viola leaves behind a large extended family, which includes beloved husband Randy, her sons, her daughter-in-law, her brothers, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, as well as several cousins and other relatives.
Published in Los Angeles Daily News on June 16, 2006
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