Alma Ezell Harris, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, passed away in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, on July 9, 2013. She was 96.
Alma’s well-traveled life began on October 16,1916 in Birmingham, Alabama. The oldest of five children, her formative years were spent on Lookout Mountain, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a youth, she embraced the arts and read voraciously. Inspired by her younger sister’s defiant marriage against their mother’s wishes, Alma moved away from home and soon was working for an interior designer in Chattanooga. While attending services at the local Episcopal Church, she met Robert Allen Harris, a young Army Air Corps cadet. They married in 1942. Their love endured and filled both of their lives.
Though independent and ambitious, she embraced motherhood and life as an Air Force wife. She and Bob moved frequently, always following Bob’s academic pursuits or military orders. By 1950, the family included three children. Bob was frequently away on military missions, and the family moved to Kensington, MD; Taipei, Taiwan; Albuquerque, NM; Upper Marlboro, MD, and finally to Lexington, MA. Alma was the stalwart head of household, re-decorating each new home, nurturing and supporting her children through every change of school.
From childhood, the culture of Japan was a reoccurring theme in her personal narrative. Her travels to Taiwan and Japan in the mid-1950’s were among her most memorable and fulfilling experiences. There she learned the floral arranging art of Ikebana. Her Ikebana work was displayed in the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s festival, Art in Bloom. She would continue her study and practice of Ikebana for the rest of her life.
Alma was a woman of great inner strength. She was graced with the ability to learn and adapt. She had a remarkably tenacious memory and a corresponding love for family history, lore, and story. Though not insensitive to life’s travails, she consistently sought the positive. With every move she found new communities and made new friends. In Lexington, MA, she was active in the Church of Our Redeemer Episcopal, and First Parish Unitarian churches, the DAR, and the Lexington Field & Garden Club. At 92 she moved to Hayden, Colorado. There she joined the Hayden Congregational Church, and helped to found and became Chaplain of, the Augusta Wallihan chapter of the DAR in Craig, CO. Never content to sit passively, she loved to plan and engage in all sorts of activities. Alma will be remembered as a vivacious, loquacious, optimist.
Alma is survived by her younger sister Miriam Downey, her children Gail Hunter, of Boulder, CO, Connie Saddlemire, of Steamboat Springs, CO, and Robert Harris, of Lexington, MA, 7 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.