Viola V. Erlandson, 97

April 16, 2011

APRIL 29, 1913-APRIL 10, 2011

Viola Vera (Van Zile) Erlandson, 97, of Hagerstown, Md., died Sunday, April 10, 2011, at her home in Hagerstown.

Born April 29, 1913, in Erie, N.D., she was the daughter of the late Milo Van Zile and Iva (Capener) Van Zile Radies. She was the wife of 63 years to Oliver Alexander Erlandson, who died in October 1999.

Viola graduated from Hylandale Academy in Wisconsin, where she met her future husband. She then attended teachers' college and taught in country schools for several years.

Alex and Viola married in 1936. During the Great Depression, they traveled down the Mississippi River, where he worked on Civilian Conservation Corps projects. Eventually, the couple moved to Baraboo, Wis., Viola's hometown. She began a new career by accident in 1945, when she filled in for a friend one day as a waitress. She liked it so much that she ended up buying the café, the Alpine Restaurant, in 1949. Although she sold the business in 1980, she continued working there until 1990, happily serving her famous pie.

She was a lifetime member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and played the organ every week for more than 40 years in the Baraboo church. She also volunteered at a nursing home in Baraboo, regularly playing the piano for the residents.  

Viola also enjoyed knitting and made more than 200 afghans for friends and family. She and her husband had several gardens as well as an apple orchard; she especially enjoyed baking her own apple pies for her restaurant.  

Viola is survived by one son, Virgil Erlandson and his wife, Cheryl, of Hagerstown; one stepsister, Ella Mae Van Zile of Baraboo; two granddaughters, Laura Zimmermann of Hagerstown, and Julie Recker of Smithsburg, Md.; and three great-grandchildren, Henry Recker, William Zimmermann and Claire Zimmermann. She will be greatly missed.

In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by one child, David Erlandson; one brother, Glenister Van Zile; and one stepsister, Evelyn McNeilus.

Locally, the funeral service will be private. There will be a memorial service scheduled at a later date in Baraboo.

The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Hope Channel, P.O. Box 5303, Thousand Oaks, CA 91359.

The Gerald N. Minnich Funeral Home, Bryan K. Kenworthy P.A., 305 N. Potomac St., Hagerstown has been entrusted with the arrangements. Online condolences are accepted at

The Herald-Mail Articles