Viola Pitts died on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, with her daughter, Stacey Pitts Williams, by her side. She was 81.
She was born in July 1938, in Birmingham, Alabama, the only child of Lula Beatrice Pitts, the youngest daughter of 12 children born to sharecroppers, Lucinda and Oliver Pitts. Viola spent her primary years in Alabama before migrating to the north with her mother to New York City in the late 1940s, settling in the Harlem community of Manhattan.
Viola attended Julia Richmond High School, where she joined the track team. She excelled in track and was a competitive runner. After high school she found employment in the nursing care field and was a personal care aide in nursing homes in the Long Island area.
Viola gave birth to her first-born, Stacy Genenne, in 1961, and her youngest, Keith Gerard, in 1968. As a single parent, Viola raised her children with the help of her mother, Lula, in the Harlem community. Together with her mother, Viola bought their first home in 1973 and relocated to the Bronx where she continued raising her children until their adulthood.Viola changed career paths and went into the banking field as a teller for Chemical Bank in the early '70s and worked both at banks in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and on Water Street in Manhattan before retiring at 55 years. It was during this time at Chemical Bank that Viola’s colleague and friend, Marsha Christian, invited her to the Bethel Gospel Assembly church in Manhattan. Shortly after Viola attended Bethel in 1982, she accepted Jesus Christ and committed to living a Christian life. This pivotal decision changed the lives of her children, as both decided to follow Christ as well.
Viola, not one to stop learning, pursued another career path in the construction field, working on the streets of Manhattan and the Bronx as a construction sign holder. Viola was, perhaps, one of the more mature employees working in this and was often perceived as the “mother” figure her younger co-workers lovingly protected on the highly trafficked streets of the city.
After her five-year tenure at Excavators, Viola purchased her second home and relocated to the Reading, Pa., area where she retired, but worked part-time at a Goodwill store, as well as spent leisure time with her dear friend, Pat, in the Reading community.
In December 2007, Viola suffered a stroke and moved back to New York, where she moved in with her daughter and family in the Chester/Monroe area. For the last 12 years, Viola has lived highs and lows, struggled with her health and has received aid in the assisted living and nursing care venues in the Goshen and Newburgh communities. Viola succumbed to complications from a stroke she suffered in July.
Survivors include her daughter, Stacey Pitts Williams, and her son, Keith Pitts; her son-in-law, Wayne Williams Sr. and daughter-in-law, Monae Eastman Pitts; grandchildren, Chloe, Wayne, Jr., Keith, Jr., and Tionna; Cousins Joyce, Warren, Wayne, and Ronny Pitts, as well as Sydney, Aquansa and Jonathan Garth; dear friends, Patricia and Rose; and surrogate daughters, Tina Black and Tracia Warner; as well as a host of loving friends, extended family and caretakers.
Memorial visitation was held at Flynn Funeral & Cremation Memorial Centers in Monroe on Sept. 6.