Ed Viola of Southampton died at his home on Thursday, January 8, surrounded by his family. Best known for his store, Wholly Cow Leather on Jobs Lane in Southampton, he was 59.
Originally from Maplewood, New Jersey, he always enjoyed working with his hands. As a young boy he used to fix baseball gloves and belts and fashion simple items from leather.
After moving to Southampton in the 1970s, he opened the shop, which was most well known at its final location on Jobs Lane. Having worked out of storefronts in many locations, he became familiar to area residents as a local craftsman, making sandals, belts, business card cases and more by hand.
In an article about the shop’s closing that appeared in The Southampton Press in October 1999, a shopper was quoted as saying “It’s a store like this that makes this feel like a village. The town will become homogenized now.” Also an active member of the community, Mr. Viola served on both the Southampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force and the Southampton Town Disability Advisory Committee.
With a bachelor’s degree in science from Southampton College and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Adelphi University, and after working as an intern as a counselor at East Hampton Human Resources, he decided to pursue a career in counseling. He ran a support group for victims and families of victims with head injuries and continued counseling, even after suffering a stroke.
“His true heart was in helping and counseling people,” his wife Jo Viola said this week. “He was an inspiration to all who encountered him,” she added.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by twin sons, Brian Viola of Southampton and Ian Viola of Georgia; a daughter, Corinna and her husband Keats Parker of Florida; two brothers, Bob Viola of Hampton Bays and Michael Viola of New Jersey; a sister, Karen Adams of New Windsor; a grandson, Kayden Parker; a granddaughter, Kya Parker; five nieces and two nephews.
A memorial service will be held on January 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Southampton Hospital’s Parrish Hall on Herrick Road in Southampton.
In lieu of flowers, donations to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978 or Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County, 643 Middle Country Road, Middle Island, NY 11953-2509 would be appreciated by the family.