John J. Hopkins Jan. 13, 2016, 2:30pm


With the Oscar nominations being announced today, it seems only fitting that the first column of 2016 deals with subject matter that gave rise to an award winning performance. “Still Alice” was the vehicle to provide Julianne Moore with her long overdue Oscar. It deals with the decline of a linguistics professor, fighting a losing battle with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a touching portrayal, and so appropriate to the tribute to a warrior whose shield is now down.

Many times the mind and body are in sync. Cruelly though, the mind may be sharp, but the body failing or vice versa. In some instances, the mind is ravaged by disease, losing memory and cognition, even though the body hangs tough. It is the wonder of science the depth of how much such a victim remains in touch with reality. I for one believe that good news can and does penetrate even the darkest shroud of fog.

After a long battle with dementia, Violent King passed away on the 4th of January 2016. The date is not inconsequential, as only 3 days prior – on January the 1st – a law in Illinois regarding cameras in Nursing Homes finally went into effect, an achievement she worked to accomplish for decades. Why no one can be sure, I do sincerely believe that before she went to her reward, she knew that the goal line had finally been crossed.

Like so many others in the Riverbend area, I considered Violet to be my friend – not a dear friend, but more of a respected business colleague. When I went to the funeral home in Godfrey for the wake, I spoke to the family, and in particular to her daughter Catherine. I told her that I always remembered her mother to be feisty, opinionated, and stubborn and dedicated… a true believer in every sense of the word. We hugged...and teared a bit, the bonding of former strangers brought together by the power of one exceptionally strong lady.

Her bio was most certainly a clue to her personality and toughness, having escaped in 1945 with her mother and brother from the closed Communist controlled border of Albania to Greece, joining up with her father. She went on to achieve academic and scientific recognition in the field of Cytology, authoring several publications in the field and in 1974, she was honored by the St Louis Society of Cytology for her body of work. She remained active in the field for several years thereafter.

I first met Violet in the mid ‘90s, shortly after she had founded “Nursing Home Monitors.” Driven by the bitter experiences of her own mother’s residence in a nursing home, Violet was determined to bring accountability to this part of the health care picture. In her zeal for change, she could be relentless, stubborn, and single minded of purpose. Compromise, the DNA of the political process, was difficult for her, as on so many issues, she saw the world in terms of black and white, good and evil, with herself correctly on the side of morality. She was the scourge of the less fully compliant Nursing Home, the tireless Champion of the residents so oft times neglected, so frequently forgotten. She gave a voice to those suffering in silence and helped bring about true changes to the Long Term Care industry. I was proud to say I worked with her.

In 2004, I was the Chairman of the Madison County Bar Association LIBERTY BELL award committee. It is an annual award given by the lawyers in the area to a citizen without a legal background who has work to promote the interests of Justice. I nominated Violet and she was selected. I can still vividly remember her acceptance speech at the luncheon. I only wish we had recorded it for posterity. While humbly grateful, she was her typical defiant self, blasting away at corporate greed and indifferences, ending with the politically incorrect praising of tort lawyers and the good they do in rectifying the bad, restoring dignity and bringing relief to the victimized. She ended with saying Madison County needs MORE not fewer lawsuits. It was classic.

Her heart now lies still, her time on earth over. But the effect of her work lives on, carrying forth in the increased supervision and accountability that now is the law. I wish her family Peace, secure in the knowledge that her time was not wasted nor selfish. The measure of a life well and truly lived is the impact it has on others, lives changed, times made better by the good steward. Violet King made our area safer and more just through her tireless work. It is a fine and fitting legacy. Rest in Peace, my friend.

With the Oscar nominations being announced today, it seems only fitting that the first column of 2016 deals with subject matter that gave rise to an award winning performance. “Still Alice” was the vehicle to provide Julianne Moore with her long overdue Oscar. It deals with the decline of a linguistics professor, fighting a losing battle with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a touching portrayal, and so appropriate to the tribute to a warrior whose shield is now down.

Many times the mind and body are in sync. Cruelly though, the mind may be sharp, but the body failing or vice versa. In some instances, the mind is ravaged by disease, losing memory and cognition, even though the body hangs tough. It is the wonder of science the depth of how much such a victim remains in touch with reality. I for one believe that good news can and does penetrate even the darkest shroud of fog.

After a long battle with dementia, Violent King passed away on the 4th of January 2016. The date is not inconsequential, as only 3 days prior – on January the 1st – a law in Illinois regarding cameras in Nursing Homes finally went into effect, an achievement she worked to accomplish for decades. Why no one can be sure, I do sincerely believe that before she went to her reward, she knew that the goal line had finally been crossed.

Like so many others in the Riverbend area, I considered Violet to be my friend – not a dear friend, but more of a respected business colleague. When I went to the funeral home in Godfrey for the wake, I spoke to the family, and in particular to her daughter Catherine. I told her that I always remembered her mother to be feisty, opinionated, and stubborn and dedicated… a true believer in every sense of the word. We hugged...and teared a bit, the bonding of former strangers brought together by the power of one exceptionally strong lady.

Her bio was most certainly a clue to her personality and toughness, having escaped in 1945 with her mother and brother from the closed Communist controlled border of Albania to Greece, joining up with her father. She went on to achieve academic and scientific recognition in the field of Cytology, authoring several publications in the field and in 1974, she was honored by the St Louis Society of Cytology for her body of work. She remained active in the field for several years thereafter.

I first met Violet in the mid ‘90s, shortly after she had founded “Nursing Home Monitors.” Driven by the bitter experiences of her own mother’s residence in a nursing home, Violet was determined to bring accountability to this part of the health care picture. In her zeal for change, she could be relentless, stubborn, and single minded of purpose. Compromise, the DNA of the political process, was difficult for her, as on so many issues, she saw the world in terms of black and white, good and evil, with herself correctly on the side of morality. She was the scourge of the less fully compliant Nursing Home, the tireless Champion of the residents so oft times neglected, so frequently forgotten. She gave a voice to those suffering in silence and helped bring about true changes to the Long Term Care industry. I was proud to say I worked with her.

In 2004, I was the Chairman of the Madison County Bar Association LIBERTY BELL award committee. It is an annual award given by the lawyers in the area to a citizen without a legal background who has work to promote the interests of Justice. I nominated Violet and she was selected. I can still vividly remember her acceptance speech at the luncheon. I only wish we had recorded it for posterity. While humbly grateful, she was her typical defiant self, blasting away at corporate greed and indifferences, ending with the politically incorrect praising of tort lawyers and the good they do in rectifying the bad, restoring dignity and bringing relief to the victimized. She ended with saying Madison County needs MORE not fewer lawsuits. It was classic.

Her heart now lies still, her time on earth over. But the effect of her work lives on, carrying forth in the increased supervision and accountability that now is the law. I wish her family Peace, secure in the knowledge that her time was not wasted nor selfish. The measure of a life well and truly lived is the impact it has on others, lives changed, times made better by the good steward. Violet King made our area safer and more just through her tireless work. It is a fine and fitting legacy. Rest in Peace, my friend.

More News