Lifelong Connections

Cyclones Everywhere

Written by Melea Reicks Licht

Viola Wilson, Lifelong Cyclone 2022

Viola Wilson, Overland Park, Kansas

Iowa State in the 1940s was full of big band music, dances, picnics, and parties. Yet looming over all of it was WWII, and the knowledge that service awaited every man following graduation.

Such was the case for Viola Wilson, who studied home economics. She fondly remembers picnics by College Creek, her connections with fellow Pi Phis and being nominated as a mili­tary queen by her soon-to-be husband

Robert Wilson (’42 animal science) who served four years in the war fol­lowing graduation.

“I wasn’t particularly bookish,” she admits. “There was so much going on.”

While she didn’t end up finishing her degree, she has maintained a strong connection to Cyclone nation.

“I was only at Iowa State a short time, but Iowa State gave me lifelong friends.”

Wilson turned 100 earlier this year and considers her health and “lovely homelife” her greatest successes. She and Robert have five children, 13 grand­children, 23 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

I was only at Iowa State a short time, but Iowa State gave me lifelong friends.

Viola Wilson ('42 animal science)

“My longevity has been a long-time investment in happiness, true happi­ness—not just this and that that’s fun. My husband was a strong force. He was really quite a catch.”

Though she didn’t graduate, Wilson and her husband remained connected to Iowa State through the Traveling Cyclones, which was like a classroom of sorts opening the world to them in their later years.

“Traveling with Iowa State was so broadening education-wise and pleasur­able. We passed up very few trips. They were lovely, well run, and always the best of class,” she says.

A former football season ticket holder, Wilson now keeps up with the Cyclones via television and says, “hopefully they can keep their name on the map!”

“I am quite honored to be a part of Iowa State,” says Wilson, a life member of the ISU Alumni Association. “It’s been a lovely ride.”