Christian woman who was Virginia’s oldest person dies months before 111th birthday

David Weiss, Viola Brown
David Weiss, chair of The Clarke County Board of Supervisors, presents Viola Brown with a plaque containing the “Viola Roberts Lampkin Brown Day” proclamation on Oct. 4. 2021 |

Viola Roberts Lampkin Brown, one of the oldest people in the world and the oldest person in the state of Virginia, died last Saturday after enjoying two cups of ice cream. She was just five months shy of her 111th birthday.

“She went quietly in her sleep around 1 a.m. on Saturday,” her great-nephew, Andrew Roberts, told The Christian Post in an interview. As stated in her obituary, she died “in the Berryville, Va., home where she had lived since 1936.”  

Brown, who was born on Oct. 4, 1911, was a strong Christian woman who told CP shortly after her birthday last year that her faith has helped her survive both World War I and World War II, pandemics and segregation.

Roberts, along with Brown’s 79-year-old daughter, Vonceil Hill, told CP that her faith had kept her in such perfect peace while she was alive. And she never needed prescription drugs until she was 101.

“She never took any prescribed medication until she was 101,” Hill told CP. “They put her on a low dose [medication] for high blood pressure.”

Before that, Brown had lived on a steady diet of Scripture and food, including green beans, potatoes and tomatoes that she grew in a garden she tended until she was about 100.

The day before she died, Brown wasn’t craving garden variety foods. Instead, she reveled in dessert before going to bed. She didn’t wake up.

“You know when people get a last spurt before they pass? She had one of those,” Roberts said.

Viola Brown
A family picture with Viola Brown: L-R seated Nyjah Davis (great granddaughter), Viola Roberts Lampkin Brown, standing Vonceil Hill (daughter), Andrew Roberts great nephew & Charceil Kellam (granddaughter) |

Before the spurt, he explained, Brown had been transitioning for a few days. Her extended family was called in on May 19 and they were getting ready for her final moments when the burst of energy came last Friday.

“She kinda came around and they were trying to feed her stuff and she was going in and out. When they gave her ice cream, she ate two cups,” Roberts said with a chuckle.

He said that was the last thing she ate before she went to bed.

In addition to Hill, Brown is survived by her daughter-in-law and seven grandchildren. Her son and grandson predeceased her in death.

Brown was married to John Strange Lampkin, a church deacon, until his death in 1982. She remarried to the Rev. Paul Brown, the pastor of Zion Baptist Church, in 1988. Brown taught Sunday School at the church for many years.

Roberts previously told CP that his great-aunt pursued an infectiously inspiring lifestyle, and said he was convinced that her faith in God helped to fuel her longevity.

“My personal experience has been nothing but love and joy whenever I’m in her presence. There’s never one minute that Jesus doesn’t drip off her lips. It’s as if she embodies Him,” he said of her last October. “Everything she talks about and does, she gives honor and praise to God. I mean everything. She’s a literal [believer].”

A funeral service for Brown will be held at Enders and Shirley Funeral Home in Berryville at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 4. The family will begin receiving friends at 11:30 a.m. Following the burial at Milton Valley Cemetery in Berryville, there will be a gathering at Clarke County Ruritan Fairgrounds.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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