Pictured above Mrs. Viola Hill on her 100th birthday. photo by Princess Photograhy
Her secret to longevity? “The Good Lord! I tried to be helpful and never abused myself (i.e. smoking, drinking). I was busy all the time! I had to work hard and I got a lot of exercise,” she told The Challenger during an interview on her 100th birthday in 2018
Born in Rock Hill South Carolina on April 26, 1918, she came to Buffalo in 1922 as a little girl.
-A Full Life-
Viola Hill spent her adult life as a community volunteer for the benefit of others. Beginning in 1945 she participated in the March of Dimes for the eradication of the dreaded disease Polio, and the Red Leather Community Church, which later became the United Way Organization. When World
War II broke out she worked briefly at Curtis Wright where she worked on the C-46 air craft. Her career was cut short by an illness she contracted there.
“I moved into the Willert Park six months after they put them up on January 4, 1940…and I was the last person to move out,” she recalled.
Mrs. Hill has volunteered in many other community endeavors including the WELL Baby Clinic of the Willet Park Community Center, Youth Board Member at the Michigan Avenue YMCA, School 47 PTA, the Buffalo Urban League, and the Hi-Y Youth at the Michigan Avenue YMCA.
She was a dedicated volunteer for many years for Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve as well as for The Challenger, which he co-founded. In the political arena she campaigned door to door as well as served as an election inspector. At one point she was the sole person who was contacted for constituent problems as well as state prison problems in Eve’s office.
She worked with the popular lawmaker on the Buffalo Challenger from its inception, assisting him since 1963 with the delivery of papers to its readers every week well into her forties. Her Willert Park apartment was a virtual Challenger archive!
She said she stayed with Eve and the paper all those years because “he cared about the people…and I was a community person from the beginning – even as a teenager– I was always concerned about things in Buffalo.”
When the CAO Program was initiated here, it was mandated to operate by neighborhood organizations.
A field worker approached Mrs. Hill to start a tenant council in the Willert Park Housing community. Mrs. Hill was instrumental in getting that established.
Her volunteer work included numerous associations too many to mention. Mrs. Hill, a widow, is the mother of four children. She was denied her high school education during the Depression era of the 1930’s but later resumed her education completing high school in her late 40’s and earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from State University of New York at Buffalo in her early 50’s. She is a member of the Buffalo Association of Black Social Workers. Mrs. Hill attributes her character and responsibility towards others to the Christian home and church and her community that molded her .
Viola Hill has enjoyed a zestful life because she kept an open mind has remained receptive to all of life around her. Her Motto : “Keep learning, keep moving, and keep doing.”
At 103 years young she still lives by those words!
Happy Birthday, Happy Mother’s Day and much love to the amazing Viola Hill – a remarkable woman!