Life began for Viola Louise Carruthers on November 7, 1925, with parents Mary Johnson and Wardell Love Sr. in Colts, Arkansas, and was raised in Memphis Tennessee. As a member of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, Viola accepted Christ at an early age and her life, and her unwavering Trust in God reflected it.
As an only child, raised by a single mother Viola was often left alone to fend for herself. She spoke of how she often felt afraid, lonely, hungry and prayerful. At a very young age, Viola made the choice to rise above her circumstances. She became an avid reader and a straight “A” student. She graduated with honors in1943 from Manassas High School, Memphis, Tennessee.
Determined to have a career despite access to a formal college, Viola entered Cosmetology Beauty College at age 17. She earned her degree and beautician license, then moved to Toledo, Ohio to start her new life at age 19. While in Toledo, Viola was an active member of Calvary Baptist Church and the Toledo “Negro” Community.
A stunningly beautiful woman who always took pride in her appearance. Viola drew many suitors, but she chose to marry William “Willie” Hubbard in 1945. They had two children, William Jr. and Pammyla. Viola divorced Willie, but not before she executed a plan that would enable her to support herself and her children.
At the age of 27, Viola worked extremely hard and smart for many months prior to her divorce. This hard work allowed her to buy a large house in a tree lined working-class neighborhood, where she rented rooms to boarders. She opened her own beauty shop, and rented booths to other beauticians. She sent for her mom to provide care for her children. And worked 10 to 12 hours a day/ 5 days per week; to provide a stable home and carefree childhood for her children.
Viola worked hard, but she also loved to play hard. As a member of The Negro Bowling League for many years, she became an excellent bowler and had a mantelpiece full of trophies to prove it. Viola loved to host and attend card and table game parties (especially Pokeno, Bid Whist and Chinese Checkers). And we all know she loved to play BINGO!
In 1962, Viola reconnected with and married her high school sweetheart Troy Carruthers. After selling her house and business, they packed up the kids, the dog, and drove cross country in their red and white winged Ford station wagon to Seattle, Washington. She divorced Troy in 1964. But once again armed with her strong faith, work ethic and strident perseverance; Viola single-handedly maintained her home and built a loyal clientele. Which lead to the establishment of her own beauty shop and stability for herself and her children.
In 1966, Viola lost a part of her heart and spirit when her 19-year-old son William suddenly died from a congenital heart condition. In her grief, there was a noticeable shift in her spirit and countenance. Her love took the form of overprotection for her remaining child Pammyla, and she protected herself by placing a guard over her heart. But that guard melted with the birth of her granddaughter Lloryn.
Viola and her granddaughter became fast friends and constant companions. Lloryn often shares tales of life growing up in a beauty shop and having her devoted “Grams” as a wise mentor, occasional bingo buddy, after school caregiver and chauffeur. Many of Lloryn’s classmates and parents are also grateful to “Miss Viola” for providing after school rides and snacks. On occasion Viola would volunteer at Lloryn’s schools. The most notable being invited to Holy Names Academy to share stories of her childhood and growing up in the segregated South for many years as a part of a course called “Readings on the American Experience”. Instructors still speak off Viola’s sage wisdom and her stories about life as African American in the Jim Crow South.
A pioneer in her field, Viola was well known for hair growth conditioning and weather resistant silky soft hair pressing. She was an expert of sew in weaves, and hair replacements methods. She attended hair shows and trainings in order to stay current with trends. And often trained upcoming beauticians on her traditional hot comb techniques.
Viola prided herself on being a listener and not a gossiper. That earned her the trust of loyal clients and many lifelong friends for over 40 years. Several of her younger clients found being in Miss Viola’s Chair therapeutic and confirming. Causing many to adopt her as a trusted mentor and mother figure. By the time she retired in 1996, Miss Viola had been a beloved beautician for 52 years. Because she was never comfortable in large unfamiliar groups or settings, if you didn’t know her, you might have mistaken her demeanor to be aloof and reserve. But nothing could be further from the truth. With family, friends and those she loved, Viola was extremely fun loving, and gregarious. She had a loud and wonderful belly laugh that was contiguous.
On Sunday, September 29th 2019 at 6:30pm, surrounded by her daughter and granddaughter, God welcomed Miss Viola home. Her family finds great peace and assurance in that she is now resting eternally in her heavenly home.
Viola is preceded in death by her son William Bernard Hubbard Jr., Mother, Mary Johnson Allen and Brothers, Odell Love and Wardell Love (Kansas City, MO). She is survived by Daughter Pammyla Annette Hubbard (Renton, WA) and Granddaughter Lloryn Louise Hubbard (Oakland, CA) who will forever cherish her memory. Her Children in Love, Vincent Thompson, Ardena Davenport, Esther Ross, Barbara Earl Thomas, Jean Moore, Dee Dee Hall, and Stephanie Scott Hatley. And a host of family and friends living in, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia and Washington.
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