OBITUARY: Betty Lillias Round Viehmann

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Betty Lillias Round Viehmann was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England on St. Patrick’s Day. As a little girl, she always thought the parades were for her. She died peacefully in her sleep on August 17, 2023, happy to rejoin her husband, the late Fred Viehmann, with whom she enjoyed a wonderful marriage for 65 years.

She was predeceased by her sister Peggy Round Bell of Cheltenham, England; her brother John Richard Round and his wife Dorothy of Grantham, England; and brother William Anthony Round and his wife Alice of Newark, England.

She is survived by her children Ursula Tutera, Sandra Lipman (Larry) and Peter Viehmann (Debbie); grandchildren Ashley Tutera of Boston, Dr. Dominic Tutera (Allison) of Ashville, NC, Sutton Costanza (Pete) and Alexa Lipman; and great-grandchildren Henry Tutera, Josie Tutera, Peter Costanza and Colt Costanza; and sister Carolyn Round Blake and her husband Paul of Quorn, England. She will be missed by all these loved ones as well as by nieces and nephews living around the globe in Australia, New Zealand, Wales, Dubai and England.

Lillias was the daughter of Doris Susan Barnes Round and William Henry Round, born in India, whose father was a Colonel serving in the British Army in India. She was the granddaughter of Susan Doughty Barnes Round and John William Round. Her great-grandparents were Susannah Doughty Barnes and John William Barnes. Her great, great-grandparents were Harriet Thorold Doughty and John Richard Doughty of Humbley Hall, and her great, great-uncle was Sir Richard Doughty. Her great, great, great grandparents were Lord John and Lady Sarah Thorold of Syston Hall.

The family was quite notable as Lillias’s father’s cousin Dorothy Round was a Wimbledon and Australian Open tennis champion in the 1930s. Dorothy’s wax statue is included in Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London, and she is also featured in the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. Her sister Peg was married to Wing Commander Brooks-Bell, Commanding Officer in the Royal Air Force in Saudi Arabia, who was decorated by Queen Elizabeth in the Royal Birthday Honours ceremony.

Lillias was educated in England and France and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She was presented at the Lord Mayor’s Ball in England and was a close personal friend of Margaret Roberts, who became Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of England. Margaret and her sister Muriel spent holidays with Lillias’s family at their summer home in Chapel St. Leonard’s.

Over her long life, she was a citizen of three different countries: England, where daughter Ursula was born; Germany, where Sandra was born; and the United States, where Peter was born.

Lillias was a true lady and a wonderful storyteller, importing English traditions of holiday, diplomacy and gentility to the U.S. Her stories, like her memory, never faded, remaining fresh with detail, and she could fall into a role at the drop of a hat. She maintained a lifelong loyalty to the royal family and continued to have tea every afternoon of her life. An avid reader, she loved English history and thought of the royal family as her own. Professionally trained as a performer, she loved music, art and dance, and earned membership in the Imperial Society of Tap Dancers, traveling to Nottingham, England to take the entrance exams. A keen mimic and gifted story-teller, she kept friends and family enthralled with tales from the stage, behind the scenes and from real life. She loved beauty in all its forms and continued to be creative all her life. In all aspects, Lillias was a true English lady.

She married the love of her life, Fred Viehmann, in England in 1947. They met as World War II was ending, when English families were encouraged to invite soldiers to stay for the holidays, and Lillias’s family hosted Fred. They lived in Germany before coming to the United States in 1955. She became a U.S. citizen on February 8, 1989. She was given a key to the city in a private ceremony. They traveled the world together, from Africa to Asia and all across Europe. Both of them spoke several languages and made friends all over the world.

In Nashville, Lillias immersed herself in the arena she loved most, theater, performing at the Barn Dinner Theater, Children’s Theatre and Theater Nashville and winning three best actress awards at Circle Theater for The Birthday Party, the Children’s Hour and Royal Gambit. She was a life member of the Symphony Guild and an annual volunteer at the Italian Street Fair, as well as at Cheekwood and Children’s Hospital.

Lillias was a member of St. George’s Episcopal Church. Honorary pallbearers include Beth Alexander, Janet Ayers, Jean Bottorff, Charlotte Cone, Beth Franklin, Kay George, George Gourieux, Barbara Grimes, Marty Ligon, Ron Mills, Mark O’Bryan, Nan Parrish, Carole Rochford and Anne Russell. The family wishes to thank special caregivers Gwen Beech, Pam Hardison, Sherron Heyward and Patricia Reese.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to St. George’s Episcopal Church, Cheekwood, the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Ballet, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Alive Hospice or the charity of your choice.

A celebration of Lillias’s life will be held at St. George’s Episcopal Church on Tuesday, August 29, at 1:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. Afternoon tea will follow the service. Funeral arrangements by Marshall Donnelly Combs.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.marshalldonnellycombs.com for the Viehmann family.

 

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