A memorial service is scheduled for Feb. 1 at 11:30 a.m. at the Evangelical Free Church in Prince George for Viola Merritt, who passed away on Jan. 10 at the age of 99.
Merritt and her husband Lloyd moved to Prince George in 1953 and opened Lloyd's Drive-In Café, which was located at the end of 20th Avenue. They operated the business for 16 years and then sold it. The building is still there.
"There were about 8,000 people living in Prince George at that time and we got to know everyone,” Merritt recalled to Kathy Nadalin in a 2017 Seniors Scene feature in the Citizen. “Over the years the young people came and gathered all the time. Our café was much like Arnold's in the TV show Happy Days. I was the peace keeper. If Lloyd went out they wanted to fight so it was my job to keep the peace.”
That was no small feat, considering Merritt stood at just four-feet-eleven and weighed about 110 pounds.
"Our special was a great hamburger and fries called the Lloyd's Special and believe it or not the price of it was only 60 cents. In fact I still have a copy of our menu. We were both so much younger back then and we worked every single day at the Café for the first five years until we finally decided to take some time off. If anyone had told me that I would one day own and manage a café I would have told them that they were nuts."
Merritt was born in Norgate, Manitoba, in 1923 as the fourth of five children. As an adult, she moved to Vancouver to train as a psychiatric nurse. She met Lloyd Gordon Merritt through a friend at a Christmas dinner and they got married in 1946 in Chilliwack.