I was born October 23, 1922, in Gooding, Idaho, to William and Mandy Elizabeth Rice. My parents moved to Tuttle, where I attended a two-room school until I was eight. Two events stand out in my memory. Once a bull put me and my two sisters on top of a straw stack and kept us there until our dad came home. Another was when our brother contracted small pox and the whole school was promptly dismissed. In those days if someone contracted a serious illness, everyone was quarantined. I and all my siblings were sent to a neighbor’s home where we stayed until the quarantine was over. When we came home, we found our mother had given birth to our brother, Edward. I had two older brothers, Gordon and Roy. Nine years later came the three girls: Daisy, Violet and Florence. Ten years later came Edward.
When I was in 4th grade, the family moved to Bliss, where I attended school through the 11th grade. My dad was a farmer and even though we were as poor as the “proverbial church mouse” there was always plenty to eat. I loved and enjoyed school and sports and played forward on the basketball team.
When I was 12, I began my first job. I was hired by a local farmer to help his wife with housework. I was paid $2.00 per week and never worked harder for what I earned. I was given two hours off every afternoon, and the farmer’s wife gave me piano lessons during this time.
I was such a small girl that I was given a TB shot every time a nurse or doctor came to the school. While in sixth grade I had pneumonia. One summer I had pains constantly in my arms and legs, and was later told by a doctor that I’d either had polio or rheumatic fever. When I entered my sophomore year in high school, I was the only one in school who failed the sports physical test, and was told I had a bad heart and could no longer play any sports. I was very disappointed, so dancing became my sport, and Saturday night became the highlight of my week.
Just before I entered my sophomore year, my parents separated. All us children and our mother were devastated. It was a difficult time in our lives, and soon after the family moved to Gooding. However, I stayed in Bliss and worked for a family for room and board. When I completed my junior year, my mother found me a job on a farm in Gooding. The owners had a daughter who was my age, a daughter who was married and still lived at home, as well as another daughter and son who were younger. It was a good time in my life.
While living there, the Pastor of the Gooding Assembly of God Church came calling, asking the farmer’s family to come back to church. They decided to go and I went with them. I still liked to go to the dances on Saturday night, though. I would come home about 7:00 in the morning, get cleaned up and go to church with the family. Nothing at church seemed to get through to me until a minister named Gene Martin came to town for a revival. We went every night, but then the heat was on…plain old conviction. I knew I was on my way to Hell. I also knew I deserved it and yet for three weeks I held out. But on the last Friday night of the meetings, there was an altar call and I went forward to repent of my sins. I then knew everything was alright between God and me and God’s peace came over me in such a way that it never left me. That night I was called into full-time service for the Lord, and my life was so totally changed that everyone knew something had happened to me.
When school started I moved back home with my family in Gooding and began attending church. Leander Christopherson was my Sunday School teacher. His wife Dorothy had passed away recently and his wife’s grandmother was living with him, but he needed additional help in the home so they hired me to work for them. He had two children, Betty and Gary. The following year Leander asked me to marry him and after much prayer I said yes. As a very young mother with an instant family, I spent the first year of my marriage on my knees praying for this newly created family. On October 4, 1942, we were blessed with a daughter, Sandra Lee.
We moved to Twin Falls, then to Jerome, and then because of the war we moved to Gooding and bought a farm. Because of the war help was hard to find, so I had to work alongside Leander in the fields. Young Betty took care of little Sandra, and a strong bond was formed between them. In 1946 after the war was over, we moved back to Twin Falls.
Church was always a big part of our lives. When we began attending church in Twin Falls, there were 18 people in the church, five of which were Christophersons. I wore many hats during my years of service. I was a Sunday School teacher for 18 years, pianist, worked with the youth and served as church treasurer, and as District Women’s Ministry Secretary/Treasurer for 13 years.
Leander, or Lee, as he was called, was a hunter, and wanted me to hunt with him, so he taught me. I killed my first of 16 elk in the first year of our marriage. Lee was never jealous, because he was a great hunter, too. We had a very good life, traveling whenever we could. Lee always helped me to excel in whatever I did and he thought I was the greatest. “Bless him!”
In 1971, Leander came home from a Northwest Bible College board meeting not feeling well. When he went on his own to a doctor, I knew he was sick. Doctors told him he had kidney disease, and about 12 months to live. He lived 13 months and went to be with his Lord on March 2, 1972. “You think you’re ready to give them up, but you’re not, and it was hard.” Soon after I trained to prepare income taxes, which I did for a few years. This allowed me to work only a few months each year, giving me time for ministry.
Then I was asked to go to Alaska to hold children’s meetings in Haines and Klukwan. I did, but felt God had something else in mind for me, and in I questioned, “They asked me to come for a year to do youth and music, at age 50?” Again I had to get on my knees and pray through and yet I knew it was God. Later I was called to Delta Junction to help the church there. Then I went to Gustavus to fill in for eight months until they could find a pastor. I stayed for nine years and then left Alaska to return to Idaho.
After about one year in Idaho, I was asked to return to Haines until a pastor could be found. And 12 years later they found him! Sometimes the problem with small churches is they lose their congregations. I had four different congregations in the 12 years I was there. This was hard because you have to train new workers and you go through periods of low income, but God always comes through. Now I have friends all over the world who were either in a church I pastored or were visiting. Several of our church kids have gone into full-time ministry, and what a wonderful reward for our efforts. God has blessed my ministry and my working for Him. I can never thank Him enough.
Right after Christmas of 1999, I felt it was time to come home, so I returned to Idaho and bought a home in Twin Falls, which was my gift from God. Soon after returning home, I became pastor to the large Senior’s group in my church, and for many years I also organized and preached weekly at nursing home services.
Addendum: Violet passed away September 1 in Twin Falls. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents and step-father, both step-children and their mates, one nine year-old granddaughter, Nanette, and all her siblings. She is survived by her daughter Sandra (Jim) Powers, 10 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, 21 great, great grandchildren, and a host of friends whose lives were impacted by her Godly life.