By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

At the behest of her daughter, Vivian Lewis is closing a 30-year career bringing style and grace to Killeen to move to Albuquerque in the wake of a couple of bouts of heart surgery.

But she is training two other people in electrolysis before she goes next month, and she leaves an indelible mark on the local organization of the American Business Women's Association that she helped to form.

"I was working in Civil Service finance and accounting and might have stayed there," she said, "but the association taught me how to network at a time when only men did that, and I was enabled to start a business of my own."

The business she started was Vivian's Cosmo Studio, a cosmetic studio and electrolysis clinic on Florence Road, and she launched her own line of skin care products, Vivian G's. Health concerns forced her to retire and move the business to her house a couple of years ago, but she still operated it and continued her ABWA activities.

She served a term as president of the Association of Texas Electrologists and served further on the national and international levels. She helped develop the profession's first certification test, now used internationally.

She was on the national board of examiners for the National Commission for Electrologist Certification from 1983 to 1987. She was charter president-elect and has been international president of the Society of Clinical and Medical Electrologists, traveling to Japan to administer the certification exam to members of the SCME Takana Chapter in 1993.

She has been active with the National Association of Female Executives and the International Toastmistress Club and still belongs to the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, where she was Athena Woman of the Year in 1985, and the Killeen Exchange Club National. She was commissioned an Arkansas Traveler by Bill Clinton when he was governor in 1979, and Texas. Gov. Rick Perry commissioned her a Yellow Rose of Texas in 2004.

She was the charter president of ABWA's Dynamis Chapter, which celebrated its 20th anniversary April 17.

"I started it because there was no other chapter with a daytime meeting," she said. "Some women couldn't join the other chapters because they had no free evening time."

Lewis said, "This association was made to order for someone in my business because I met women in so many different lines of work. It's so diversified that it's a training tool for just about anyone."

She helped form ABWA's Central Texas Area Council and was a four-term president of the Heart of Texas chapter.

"ABWA's mentoring program and its networking system are among its most important assets," she said. "Women used to be more in competition than cooperation with each other. Correcting that was the idea behind forming the area council, to foster mutual support. We need to encourage younger women, and our college chapters are important for that, to introduce younger women to our concepts and encourage them to continue."

She said ABWA currently is not as strong as it has been partly because employers support participation in business and professional groups specific to women's jobs and pay membership dues. "But organizations with wide-based membership are still important, and I hope they'll be seen that way in the future."

She said she loves Albuquerque and plans to continue her avocational activities there. She also said her doctors here have made her promise to return for treatment if she doesn't find everything she needs.

Her proteges and heirs in the electrological profession here are Peggy Gabbard in Killeen and Suzanne Pringle, a former teacher who already has a business, A New Image, in Copperas Cove.

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