A Monumental Life
To know Alma Crone is to sense the essence of a peaceful mind and an optimistic future. Alma’s smile and friendly disposition are transparent of a life that has been full and rewarding. Alma says, “My life has been simple but very different. It was always full of laughter and good times”. Another analysis might be that Alma’s life could be described as “monumental” because her life includes: birth into a “healthy” family, a happy childhood, a college education, marriage into an iconic Memphis family, having healthy and productive children, world travel, community service and now, living a contented and busy life at Kirby Pines.
A native Memphian, Alma was welcomed into the Barnes family on June 12, 1938. A sister and a brother would come later. Her father was General Manager of the Brittling Cafeterias and her mother, a homemaker, was “the best cook in the world!” According to Alma, “I had a typical ‘50’s life’ with slumber parties, etc. Friends were always welcomed and everything took place at my house, even through college. Homecoming floats were always made in our front yard”.
Alma attended Peabody Elementary School and graduated from Messick High School in 1956. She completed studies at Memphis State University in 1960. Alma laughingly admits, “I was very much involved in fun and ‘studying for my MRS degree’ while in college”. She pledged Sigma Kappa and met her future husband, George Crone at a Pi KA Rush Party in the fall of 1956. “He was the handsomest guy at MSU”, declares Alma. They married in August, 1958 and have three children, Kelley, Luanne and George “Tad”, III. There are four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Alma’s life revolved around her children, her husband’s business and church life at Buntyn Presbyterian Church. George was an Elder and Alma was an officer of the Women of the Church for the many years they worshiped there. The family went to Destin, Florida every year.
Alma’s story would be incomplete without including the business and social aspects of her life with husband, George. George Crone became a fifth generational Memphian when born into the Crone family which had owned Crone Monument Company since the early 1920’s. The Company made cemetery memorials, bronze historical monuments and statutes, not only for Memphians, but all over the mid-South. Those in Memphis include the statue at St. Francis Hospital, bronze plaques at University of Memphis, University of Tennessee and the Orpheum Theater. George’s work as a sculptor and memorialist assured him membership in the prestigious organization, The American Institute of Commemorative Arts, which allows only one member from each state. George served as a Director and as President for two terms. His membership resulted in long lasting friendships with artisans all over the world. George and Alma traveled the world, including being passengers on the QE 2 on the last sailing from the American shores. Perhaps the most “awesome” trip was visiting Italy and visiting the quarry where the white marble used for Michelangelo’s David was mined. “We also visited quarries all over the U.S. If you like ROCKS, ask me about them”, offers Alma.
George was also known for his involvement in local activities. He was President of the Memphis State University Alumni Association for two years and he and Alma were able to travel to all the University’s sporting events. George would later be named “Alumni of the Year” by the University. Also, for several years, George was President of the Elmwood Association.
When the children were no longer at home, Alma became involved in other projects. However, to achieve that “empty nest”, Alma was faced with planning the weddings of both daughters and sending her son to college, all in one year. Alma became a member of the LeBonheur Club and Subsidium which worked primarily with Memphis Oral School for the Deaf. However, for twenty years, her Thursdays were reserved for Bible study fellowship, then later a community Bible study.
In addition to her travels with George, Alma made several trips to England and the British Isles. Two trips to England were with her sister, Martha. Both Alma and Martha had attended seminars in Williamsburg, Charleston and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem to learn the appraising of antiques. The trips with Martha resulted in “wonderful buys” for members of their family who owned antique stores. “It’s a family joke”, says Alma, “that the collection gene was inherited by all the girls in the family”. Martha remains a respected appraiser in this field.
George became increasingly ill with Parkinson’s, which had been diagnosed in his late sixty’s. In 2013, the decision was made to move to Kirby Pines. Alma realized she could not bring all her antique collections with her, but, she did bring the most interesting ones. “Ask me about them” volunteers Alma. After two years in their apartment it became necessary to move George to the Manor. “He had the wonderful care of the staff there”, states Alma. George passed away in 2016. “When the family gets together now, our thoughts always go to George and they bring laughter, remembering the joy he brought into our lives”, adds Alma.
Alma remains active at Kirby Pines. She says, “The chapter I’m in now is different but as happy. I have my family to enjoy. My new friends and I have such good times together with lots of laughs. There is peace here knowing that we are taken such good care of—and guess what? THE BEST IS YET TO COME!”
Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines