Viola L. Bullock, 85, educator in city, devout church member

August 24, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Viola L. Bullock had a strict philosophy when it came to church: If you can get up and go to work all week, then you can go to church all day on Sunday.

So each Sunday, she would arrive at Gillis Memorial Christian Community Church at 8: 30 a.m. to attend the two morning services and leave about dusk -- a handful of meetings later.

"That was just how she lived her life and something she believed in very much," said her daughter, Beverly McFarland of Randallstown. "Probably the only thing more important to her than church was her family."

Mrs. Bullock, 85, who died Wednesday of heart and kidney failure at the Northwest Medical Center in Randallstown, had been a member of Gillis Memorial in Northwest Baltimore for nearly 50 years.

And until recent months, when her health began to deteriorate, she did not miss services.

"She got a real attitude when it came to church," said Ms. McFarland, who lived with her mother in recent years. "She'd come down on Sunday morning and say, 'Excuse me, but who's going to take me to church?' "

A native of Norfolk, Va., and a graduate of Virginia State College, the former Viola Boyd moved to Baltimore in 1947. She married Cornell J. Bullock the next year, and the couple lived on Druid Hill Avenue. Mr. Bullock died in 1956.

Mrs. Bullock worked as a cafeteria manager and home economics teacher at Edmondson High School and Pimlico Junior High during a 30-year career with the city school system. She retired in the late 1970s.

At Gillis Memorial, she was a deacon, trustee, church mother and president of the pastor's aid association. But she never joined the choir.

"She never sang too well," said Kimberly McFarland of Randallstown, a granddaughter.

But that didn't stop her singing the gospel. She sang in the car, at home, at friends' homes.

"We were riding down the street once and she was singing, 'What You've Done For Me,' loud as she could," the granddaughter said. "Her hands were out the window, and she was screaming and shouting the song."

The Rev. Theodore C. Jackson Jr., pastor at Gillis Memorial, said Mrs. Bullock always was willing to help the church in any way. "I wish I had 1,000 more members like her," Mr. Jackson said.

Mrs. Bullock did not live long enough to achieve her wish of taking part in the opening of a church addition, scheduled for the second weekend in September.

But a few weeks ago, she spoke to the congregation from the pulpit. Although she was ill, she seemed to gain strength while in front of the members.

She last attended church about three weeks ago but, because she was feeling ill, stayed for only one service -- much to her dismay.

Services will be at 6: 30 p.m. tomorrow at Gillis Memorial, 4016 Park Heights Ave.

In addition to her daughter and granddaughter, she is survived ++ by two other grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Pub Date: 8/24/96

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