Viola Lennon was one of seven remarkable women who “challenged society, changed the culture, and taught the world that babies were born to be breastfed.” In Chicago, IL in 1956, a worldwide phenomenon was born as seven women gathered together to found a mother-to-mother support organization that would become La Leche League International. Begun in one suburban living room, LLLI has grown to have a presence in over 65 countries around the world.
Viola (Vi) graduated from Mundelein College with a degree in Economics. In college, she became involved with an organization called Young Christian Workers that sparked her interest in “doing things naturally.” Vi married her husband Bill in 1951 and they welcomed ten children into their lives (all unmedicated births and all breastfed!). Later, Vi delighted in having 18 grandchildren. Vi became interested in attending the first ever LLL meeting in 1956 because it was described to her as being about “mothering”—this caught Vi’s interest because it was a new concept at the time.
After the organization extended beyond local mother-to-mother support, Vi served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and later as LLLI Funding Development Director and still later with her role in the Alumnae Association and on the Founders’ Advisory Council. Vi spoke to the power of breastfeeding and mothering when she said, “"Breastfeeding… led me to self-discovery and to a greater appreciation of the full humanity of the babies who were entrusted to me. Each woman needs to trust her own instincts, her own feelings, and her own sense of what will work for her with each baby."
Viola Lennon was born in 1923 and passed away in January of this year. She is remembered as a woman who had a profound influence on the entire world and she left an incredible legacy.
-- Molly CfM Blogger
*This memorial was originally written for the CAPPA blog. *Primary Source: The Revolutionaries Wore Pearls by Kaye Lowman, 2007.