Viola Mae Davidson’s friends and family paint her as a smart, fiercely loyal and kind woman whose faith led her through life.
She was the wife of Jim Davidson, a syndicated columnist of Conway, and she too had a position of prominence in certain circles.
Viola Davidson died at age 76 at her home in Conway Monday after an almost 20-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
She is credited with many likely unseen acts of kindness and the creation of the Widow’s Luncheon ministry at Harlan Park Baptist Church, which also took root in a church in Illinois.
"She had a ministry, and it was to have lunch for widows at the church. Our church has continued to do that since they have gone," family friend Virginia Roberson, said. "Sometimes the widows get forgotten. She always remembered the forgotten people."
Heather Morris, who came forward after learning of Davidson’s death to post a public note on Facebook about the woman’s kindness, said she is someone Davidson always seemed to remember.
"I was brand new, just married, and my husband and I joined the church. I was still in college," Morris said. "Viola came up to me every time I came through the door. She was looking for me it seemed like."
Morris said without family in the area, Davidson became like a mother to her.
Her fondest memory, and one that exhibits Davidson’s dedication to others, occurred about a week after Morris’ son was born.
"When my son was born, she came over with pizza and two gift bags. One was an outfit for Daniel. In the other one there were two journals. I didn’t realize at the time what they were, but later after she left I opened them," Morris said. "They were journaled prayers she had prayed over me for 15 years. They are precious to me."
Morris said as she reads the journals, she can see her own life’s progression and Davidson’s dedication to her.
"She was friendly with everyone at church. I may not be the only one she did this for. I have no idea, but it made a huge impact in my life to know someone cared about me that way that wasn’t a member of my biological family," she said.
Morris described Davidson as "the most energetic and positive person" she had ever met.
"Even when she became sick with Parkinson’s, and it was hard for her to come to church and sit, she’d come and stand up in the back of the church switching from one foot to the other. It was difficult and painful, but she was still at church praising and still encouraging," said Morris.
Morris said she didn’t know why Davidson picked her out of a crowd, but "she just poured love and encouragement into my life."
Roberson confirmed Davidson’s dedication to others in the community.
"She was very caring toward everyone, very concerned. She was a wonderful cook and hostess. She kept track of people who were in need, and she prayed for them. She was an all-around wonderful Christian woman," Roberson said.
Davidson’s husband said his wife "ministered to people all over the community."
"I think she looked for people who were lonely or didn’t have a lot of friends, and she had a special way of lifting their spirits," he said.
Viola’s passing was not a surprise to her family, and her battle and demeanor have been subject for Jim Davidson’s writing.
In an upcoming column for Friday’s Log Cabin Democrat Davidson completed just before his wife’s death, he wrote:
"At our home, I have just witnessed an amazing transformation. We have moved from a point where my wife Viola wanted to die, to a point where she now cherishes and looks forward to each new day of life."
In the column and in others, Davidson comments on his wife’s positive demeanor through a physical struggle.
"I don’t mind dying, but I’m not into pain," he has quoted her as saying.
Her husband and others who knew Viola will remember her cooking, her singing voice, her faith, her kindness, and her "spunk."
Viola Davidson’s memorial service will be held Friday at Central Baptist Church in Conway at 10 a.m.
Her obituary is included in this edition of the Log Cabin Democrat.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)