Violet M. Herron, a former fashion model who owned and operated an Arden Arcade optometry business for 28 years, died July 27 of a stroke, her family said. She was 87.
Until health issues forced her to slow down last year, Mrs. Herron often greeted customers at her store, Veyes Dispensing Optician, on Marconi Avenue near Town & Country Village. She helped pick out flattering frames and recorded facial measurements to ensure a perfect fit as a registered dispensing optician.
She opened her shop in 1984 after working for Sacramento optometrists for more than 30 years.
"She had a real ability to listen to people and connect with them," said her son, Paul Herron Jr.
Mrs. Herron was an expert at looking good in public. Influenced by movie stars, she dressed with style as a young woman in Los Angeles and turned heads with a striking resemblance to actress Susan Hayward. At 17, she landed a job in the Hollywood fashion community as one of the youngest buyers for May Co. department store.
After settling in Sacramento in 1948, she continued working as a model and buyer for Hale's department store. She wore elegant clothes in annual fashion shows at Memorial Auditorium, where she was chosen top model and named "The Capitol Girl" in 1951, her son said. She appeared in ads in The Bee and on a local TV morning show.
Meanwhile, her high profile was aided by her marriage to Paul Herron Sr., a noted swimmer and coach who swam across the English Channel in 1958 and 1959.
"He was a handsome guy, and she was a beautiful woman," her son said. "They were a pretty dynamic couple around town back then."
Born in 1925 in Los Angeles, Violet Mae Davidson grew up in nearby Baldwin Park. Her parents, Charlotte and Walter Davidson, owned and ran a five-and-dime store during the Great Depression. She graduated from high school at 16 and attended UCLA before going to work.
She was married in 1944 to her husband, who taught math and industrial arts at McClatchy and Hiram Johnson high schools. They divorced in 1981.
Mrs. Herron lived most recently in the Arden Park neighborhood. She raised and trained German shepherds for many years with noted animal behavior expert Heinz K. Peters.
She gave up modeling after she was invited to work in an optometrist's office in 1953. She welcomed a new career opportunity and enjoyed working directly with customers, her son said.
"She had this engaging personality that made you feel better when you left the store," he said. "It was like she was a bartender who listened to people's stories and empathized."