CENTRALIA — Viola Alba Crim Walker was the eighth, and lasting surviving child, of nine children born to Reverend Alonzo A. Crim and Florence Sumner Crim. She was born on February 17, 1914 in Unionville, in Massac County, Illinois.
She attended Attucks Grade School in Carbondale, Illinois where her father taught grades 6th through 8th and was her teacher. Viola was one of 11 seniors in the Attucks High School graduating Class of 1931. In her late teens she played piano for her church, Olivet Free Will Baptist Church, where her father was Pastor, and where she later served as Sunday School Superintendent.
Both of her parents had encouraged her to go to college, so she walked the 4 mile trip between the college and her parent’s home each day, and in 1935 she graduated from Illinois Teacher’s College (now Southern Illinois University).While attending SIU, Viola served as Secretary of the Dunbar (Literary) Society, was a member of the Roland Hays Club, and also served as Treasurer and Sponsor as a member of the Psi Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.She was a Life Member of the SIU Alumni Association. She also took classes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during summer sessions. Viola was a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).She later taught music and history at Crispus Attucks High School, and while teaching there in 1942, she served as the director of the Crispus Attucks Glee Club. Viola was also employed as a caseworker and supervisor for the Illinois Department of Public Aid.
In 1943, in Mt. Clements, Mich., she married he late husband William Harold Walker, a Tuskegee Airman, and former Principal of Lincoln School. They settled in Centralia in 1948, where they built a home and farmed land, producing corn, beans, and strawberries. They united with Second Baptist Church, where Viola was a faithful member for nearly 67 years, serving as pianist and choir director, and a member of the Independent Club, Missionary Association, Mother’s Board, and Pastor’s Aide ministries. She was also a local and district officer of the Junior Child Welfare Club, taught Sunday School (Class 13) and Wednesday Bible Study, and until her most recent illness, still attended services every Sunday. Viola was also President of Church Women United, a city-wide organization of women from various denominations.
Viola’s love of family was evidenced by the fact that she always tried to attend every family reunion. She had been a devoted caregiver to her mother Florence until she passed away at age 88, a loving mother to her son William “Billy” Walker, and prior to her beloved husband’s passing in 1999, she and her husband Harold had celebrated 55 wonderful years of marriage. Viola resided in their same home for almost 67 years, until her passing there, peacefully, in her sleep, in the early morning hours of April 28, 2015.
Viola is survived by her loving son, Billy of Jackson, MO; nieces Betty (George) Franklin of Olympia Fields, IL; Constance Rounds of Fairburn, GA; Mae Brooks of Calumet Park, IL; Lola (Herman) Hendricks of Los Angeles, CA; nephew Walter Wilson (Wanda) Crim of Los Angeles, CA; a host of cousins, and great, and great-great nieces and nephews; a loyal friend and dutiful “play son” John Young, committed caregivers, other family, church members, and friends.
Viola left her mark on this earth in so many ways, but would most want to be remembered for her unwavering faith in the Heavenly Father who both kept her and blessed her to be here with us for 101 years. Whenever asked how she was doing, her reply was always, I’m blessed”. Her favorite scripture was Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding”. Viola would want us all to know, that what He did for her, how He kept her, how He blessed her – He will do the same for us, if we just trust Him.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 9, 2015 at Second Missionary Baptist Church in Centralia, with Rev. Isaac D. Parker, Pastor- Officiating and Rev. John Young, Eulogist. A visitation will be from 9 a.m. – 10 am at the Church.
Burial will follow in Hillcrest Memorial Park in Centralia.
Jackson Funeral Home of Carbondale is in charge of arrangements.