Viola Rodgers

Viola Rodgers

American journalist. Daughter of Abram Wiley Rodgers (1823-1883) and Isabella Dick Saffell (1844-1927), of Watsonville, CA, both of them natives of East Tennessee. Viola Rodgers was a well-known crime and society reporter for major U.S. newspapers in the decades prior to WWI. She was educated in San Francisco's prestigious Irving Institute for young women, where her widowed mother was employed as an instructor. She lived in San Francisco, Syracuse, St. Louis, New York City, London, and several other major cities while reporting for the Hearst newspapers and the Saturday Evening Post. Viola moved to Paris, France, around the time of WWI and served as a nurse in a local French hospital to support the war effort. She became well known in France for hosting European and American visitors and entertaining the U.S. expatriate community. In 1926 Miss Rodgers purchased a château in Lardy, Seine-et-Oise, south of Paris, where she lived for most of the rest of her life. During WWII, she was interned for some time in a prison camp in Vittel by invading Nazi forces and was only allowed to return to her home in Lardy shortly before her death. She never married. (Although Viola Rodgers claimed to have been born in San Francisco in 1878--and contended that her birth records had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire--census records and newspaper accounts from the early 1870s seem to contradict these assertions.)

Stories about Viola Rodgers

Miss Viola Rodgers, Newspaper Woman Former New Yorker, Later a Paris Hostess, Dead at 65

    Miss Viola Rodgers, who was well known as a newspaper woman in New York and Chicago during the decade before the first World War, died on January 1 at her home near the village of Lardy, a few miles south of Paris, France. Her death of a heart attack occurred on her sixty-fifth birthday. A delayed report reached the State Department yesterday.

    A first-rate reporter, who covered many of the big crime stories of the day, Miss Rodgers had also been a society editor for the Hearst newspapers before she engaged in French relief work in the last war. After the armistice, an American inheritance enabled her to buy an old French estate near Lardy, which she restored and made an attractive home for the entertainment of her many friends in the American colony in Paris.

    When the Germans approached in 1940, Miss Rodgers and her servants joined the thousands fleeing southward. Later the Germans, who had used her home as a military headquarters, allowed her to reoccupy it. Interned at Vittel when the United States entered the war, she was released last year.

    (New York Times, 21 Jun. 1944)

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