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Viola Elder, 81; Mother of Conservative Radio Talk-Show Host

From a Times Staff Writer

Viola Elder, the mother of radio and television talk-show commentator Larry Elder who became a beloved figure on her son’s syndicated radio program, died June 13 in Los Angeles. She was 81.

A Democrat, Viola Elder often engaged in spirited exchanges with her son, a registered Republican who takes a conservative, libertarian view, in her weekly appearances on his show, where she was known as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Born July 2, 1924, Viola Elder was raised on a farm in Toney, Ala. After graduating from high school, she attended Talladega College in Talladega, Ala.

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During World War II, she worked for the War Department in Washington, D.C. In 1947 she married Randolph Elder, and they moved to Los Angeles from Tennessee in 1949. Their first son, Kirk, was born in 1949, followed by Larry in 1952 and Dennis in 1954.

In Los Angeles, the family lived initially in the Pico-Union area and owned a breakfast cafe. When Larry was 7, they moved to the working-class neighborhood of South-Central Los Angeles that has been the family home ever since.

She was active in church and community organizations in Los Angeles.

In addition to her husband, Randolph, and her sons Larry and Kirk, she is survived by several brothers. Her son Dennis died in 1997.

Donations in her memory may be made to the American Diabetes Assn. or the Royal Family Kids Camp supported by Hyde Park Congregational Church in Los Angeles.


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