Viola A. Severs
1885 - 1986
Viola Severs taught piano at Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, from 1917 to 1925. A naturally gifted pianist, she was praised from her earliest years for her playing and musicianship.
The eldest of two daughters born to Alonzo and Rosella Severs, she spent most of her life living in and teaching piano in New Jersey. Following graduation from high school, she attended New York College of Music for a year and then attended Melrose Sanitarium for a year before teaching music there the following year.
The next year she attended Union College and then taught as a student in its conservatory of music for two years. She returned home to teach music privately for four years and in 1916 enrolled at Washington Missionary College, where she completed a two-year music diploma in 1917, at age thirty-one.
While a student, she accompanied the college choir and following graduation taught piano for eight years at the college, until 1925. During that time she also frequently accompanied and served as a pianist in chapel.
One of her duties in fulfilling the latter responsibility was described in the February 1925 issue of the school paper, The Sligonian: "At the close of the chapel exercises, Miss Severs strikes a chord on the piano, and the students rise and march out in four rows to march music. In this way the room is evacuated in one minute."
She later traveled to Mountain View, California, where it appears she taught music privately. She was residing in New Jersey when she died at age 100.
Sources: 1910, 20, 30 U.S. census records; 1932 voting registration record in Mountain View, California; Washington Missionary College newspaper, The Sligonian, 1917 to 1925 newspaper and yearbook issues; the Columbia Union Visitor, 20 April 1933, 8, and 5 March 1953, 7; Social Security Records; Faculty listing from Hail Columbia, an unpublished history of Washington Missionary College prepared by Theofield G. Weis, 1944-46.