Viola Elizabeth Milburn, née Manigault of Severn, Maryland passed peacefully on Saturday, April 10, 2021 at home with her family by her side. She was 81. Viola and her husband, Fabian Milburn, Sr. had been married for 61 years and are citizens of the world, having traveled to several continents in connection with his duties on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Dept. of Defense. In 1980, they purchased a home in Anne Arundel County and quickly became a part of the local community.
Whether it was Greece, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, or Severn, Viola (or “Vi” as friends and family called her), was known for being the consummate hostess and always made everyone around her feel welcome. Everyone knew that when Vi threw a holiday party, a bar-b-q, or any soirée, it was going to be memorable and everyone was assured of having a great time. To commemorate their 50th wedding anniversary and world travels, Viola and Fabian hosted a black-tie gala themed “A Passport to Love” and following the weekend of festivities, they added another stamp to their passport by flying to Montego Bay, Jamaica and spending a week at Round Hill. To commemorate their 60th wedding anniversary, Viola and Fabian hosted another gala themed “Faith, Hope & Love” and celebrated this milestone by reaffirming their wedding vows.
Viola was born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Beulah Manigault, née Grayson of Carlisle, Pennsylvania and Joseph Manigault of Swansea, South Carolina. Viola is a graduate of William Penn High School (class of 1958), where she excelled academically, was a member of the Academic Scholars Club, and continued her college studies while traveling abroad with her husband. Viola’s father owned one of Harrisburg’s largest general hauling companies (“Manigault & Sons”), servicing the steel mills in the area. Her mother was active in local politics, worked at the state capitol building in Harrisburg and like her daughter, was known and loved by so many in the community
Upon Viola and Fabian’s return to the U.S. (and with her family settled into the local Maryland community), Viola embarked on a career initially working in Human Resources for Ingram Books and then in the Finance & Accounting division of International Paper. Stories have often been recounted about Viola’s amazing skill at organizing the office lottery syndicate when there was a large jackpot. She also had an amazing winning streak at bingo, one of her favorite weekly activities with her friends. Viola’s skill at navigating several bingo cards at once is legendary, as was her luck at the Maryland Live! slot machines.
Part of Viola’s charm was her ability to galvanize her friends and colleagues to support charitable initiatives. Each year, Viola was part of a group of local women who came together to ensure that families in need received a proper Thanksgiving dinner and additionally, that local children received toys for Christmas. Viola also co-founded a social group called “We3” which sponsored trips to New York City and Atlantic City to attend events including the Radio City Rockettes spectacular, holiday shopping, dinners at Mastoris in Bordentown, New Jersey, and of course, a stop at the casinos. Trips to see Alvin Ailey, Cece Winans’ Christmas Concert at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival were always on Vi’s social calendar.
“I remember calling mom’s cell phone to catch-up and asked how she and dad were doing. Mom said ‘we’ll need to call you back because we’re in Florida seeing Gladys Knight & the Pips.’ I recall thinking I wish I had their life because they really know how to live,” said her son Fabian Milburn, Jr. “When I think of mom and dad, I think of one of the most active, giving, and charitable couples.”
As a Charter member (1980) Viola served Amulet Chapter No. 85, Order of the Eastern Star-PHA, with distinction and grace. Viola became very knowledgeable of the rules and regulations of the Order. She served the Chapter in several positions and Committees. She obtained and served as Worthy Matron (the highest position in the Chapter) 1983-1984. Viola was always willing to share her expertise with the new members. To gain more experience and knowledge, Vi began to travel with Myra Grand Chapter, OES-PHA. During the years, she served the Grand Chapter as District Deputy Grand Matron for District 2, Grand Lecturer, and Grand Chairperson for the Hospitality Committee. Because of her works and her dedication to the order, in 2011, Viola was given Past Grand Worthy Matron honors, under the leadership of Past Grand Worthy Matron Juanita Clarke.
Viola became a member of Jerusalem Court No. 1, Daughters of the Imperial Court on June 29, 1981. She served on various committees. She was elected to the position of Illustrious Commandress in December 1990. After serving as the Illustrious Commandress in 1991, she served as the Imperial Deputy for the Oasis of Baltimore from 1994-1998 and she served as the Imperial Deputy for the Desert of Maryland from 1998-2001. Past Commandress Milburn loved the Fraternal Order and in 2002 she was bestowed the title of Honorary Past Imperial Commandress. She was very faithful in instilling the importance of being a finer woman and always doing things with grace and elegance. Honorary Past Imperial Commandress Milburn was a proud Daughter of the Imperial Court and she was glad to be a member of Jerusalem Court, No. 1. She worked hard and she loved and supported Jerusalem Court until her health no longer allowed her to. She became a life member in 2017. All who knew her truly loved her. Viola has never met a stranger.
Viola is survived by her husband, Fabian Milburn, Sr.; her daughter and son-in-law, Rhonda and David Brown; and her son Fabian Milburn, Jr., all of Severn, Maryland; sisters Beulah Bass and Ora Manigault, and brother Joseph Manigault, all of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; sister-in-law Anna Mae Manigault, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; sister-in-law Theresa Milburn, of Brooklyn, New York; sister-in-law Audrey Patrick, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and brother George Manigault, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is also survived by so many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, friends and an expansive global village that she met during her travels. Viola is preceded in death by her parents Beulah and Joseph Manigault, her sister Geraldine Manigault, and brother Leonard Manigault.
In honor of Viola’s spirit for life and as a tribute to the light she brought to everyone she met, there will be a “Celebration of Life” service to laugh, smile and rejoice at the time we were so fortunate to have her with us.
The service will be held at Donaldson Funeral Home, 1411 Annapolis Road, Odenton, Maryland 21113 on Monday, April 19th. Viewing hours will be from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, a “Celebration of Life Service” will follow from 12:00 – 1:00 PM, and thereafter, a procession to Crownsville Veterans Cemetery, 1122 Sunrise Beach Road, Crownsville, Maryland 21032, for Viola’s final resting stop on this journey.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Viola’s name to Partners-In-Care, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting older adults with living and thriving independently. Donations can be sent to 8151-C Ritchie Highway, Pasadena, Maryland 21122.
To view a livestream of the service on the date of the service, please click HERE.
Partners In Care
8151-C Ritchie Highway, Pasadena MD 21122