Cahoon, Alice Dubberly
Nov. 27, 1918-April 4, 2021
Alice Dubberly Cahoon died peacefully in her sleep on April 4 at her Atlanta home, where she had lived for the past 40 years. She lived two years past her goal of making it to 100, despite the increasing effects of the dementia that ultimately caused her death.
Alice was born in her grandparents’ home on November 27, 1918, on her family’s farm in the Rye Patch community of what is now Long County, but which at the time was still Liberty County. She was the only child of Julia Hires and William Emmett (“Emmett”) Dubberly. Just as she avoided becoming infected with the virus that has created the current global pandemic, she also escaped the Spanish flu that was raging worldwide in the year of her birth. Her father Emmett survived that virus, which he (like so many other doughboys of World War I) contracted while in training stateside to be sent “over there.” The Armistice that was reached about 2 weeks before Alice’s birth spared him from the horrors of trench warfare, and he was soon released to return home. Alice grew up on the family farm that is now timberland known as the Hires Plantation, located near Rye Patch Baptist Church, which she and her family regularly attended as she grew up. Both her parents’ house and the home in which she was born, where her beloved grandparents Jacob Godfrey and Lula Smiley Hires lived, were moved from that property many years ago and are still occupied at other locations within Long County.
Alice began her education in a one room schoolhouse located near Rye Patch Baptist and continued at the “court house” school built there later, until her grade was consolidated into Ludowici High School, from which she graduated in 1937. It is believed that Alice is the last survivor of that class, in which she had many lifelong friends. She was one of the top students in her class and looked forward to becoming the first in her family to attend college. However, Depression era concerns that the family’s debt-free farm might have to be mortgaged to pay for her tuition caused her instead to find a job for a few months to save so that she could afford to attend Massey Business School in Jacksonville, Florida. At Massey, she developed clerical, secretarial and bookkeeping skills that enabled her to find a job with Independent Life Insurance Co. in Jacksonville immediately on graduating.
While Alice always regretted not having a college education, fate was kind to her, for it was in Jacksonville, while working at Independent Life, that she met Naval Aviation Cadet Robert (“Bob”) Harold Cahoon in the fall of 1941. By Pearl Harbor Sunday, when their date was interrupted by the radio call for all service members to report immediately to their bases, she and Bob had been dating for a few months, and he was certain that he had found the love of his life. Alice, who had pending proposals from several enamored young men, took longer to make up her mind, but on April 17, 1943, the two married. During the 70 years that followed until Bob’s death, they enjoyed a wonderful life together. When World War II ended, Bob was able to complete his education at the University of Michigan, where Alice worked in the Bursar’s Office. Economic and other considerations again thwarted her college ambitions, for though she was admitted to Michigan, her required freshman course schedule could not be adjusted to allow her time both to continue work and to have any time to spend with Bob.
For most of the first third of their married life together after Bob’s graduation from Michigan, Bob and Alice made their home in Jacksonville, Florida, where Alice’s parents and her Grandmother Lula had eventually settled after they sold family farm soon after the end of World War II. There Bob and Alice’s only child, daughter Susan Alice Cahoon, who is now an attorney practicing law as a partner in the Atlanta office of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, was born and reared.
While living in Jacksonville the Cahoon family were active members of Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, where Bob was a deacon and the Training Union Director; Bob and Alice together taught a Training Union class for teenagers; and Alice, who loved to sing, was a member of the choir (joined sometimes by her mother, and when Susan was a teenager, by Susan as well).
Bob’s roots were in Washington State, so family vacations for many years involved driving from Jacksonville to Washington, where Bob’s divorced parents lived, to see his mother Melba Anderson Cahoon, in Olympia, and his father, Harold Stoddard Cahoon, in Yakima. After Bob, Alice and Susan moved to the Atlanta area, they continued to enjoy family road trips to the West, including two trips to Alaska. Through those early long distance drives and many others during her married life, Alice was truly able to see and enjoy the many wonders of the USA, as she visited all the states except Hawaii. The family also enjoyed several trips to Europe, which sometimes included significant road time in a rental car as the Cahoons explored places on their own, rather than as part of a travel group. Some of Alice’s favorite trips were those that took her to places where her ancestors or Bob’s had lived before they emigrated to the United States--England, Scotland, Norway, France and Germany.
Alice always cared deeply about family and cherished family stories and history. She remembered what her grandparents and great grandparents told about their childhoods and their memories of things earlier generations had passed down as family lore. While she had not enjoyed history in high school (she said all the teacher seemed to want was for students to memorize dates), she had the instincts of a born historian when it came to sorting through old deeds, census and other public records, and the other materials a genealogist can use to trace a family’s history without the aid of today’s DNA-based websites to help create a detailed family tree. She was singled out by the authors of The Douberly-Dubberly Paper Trail in America, 1696-1991 as a contributor of extensive research to their book, and she was a key member of the Heirs Research Committee that contributed to the 1974 book, The Hiers Genealogy (Heyer, Hyer, Hier, Hire, Hires, Hiers).
Alice worked in Jacksonville as the Placement Director for Massey after she and Bob settled there until late in her pregnancy with Susan, but never thereafter returned to the paid workforce. However, she was a worker all her life, who expanded the term “homemaker” beyond caring for family, cooking, keeping an immaculate house and other activities more typically associated with the word. She was the ultimate “DIY” person who could flawlessly perform virtually any task she ever saw anyone in the building trades perform. Doing electrical work or plumbing were about the only things required to build a house that she chose not to undertake. She did, however, design and do the scale layout for a home her parents built in Jacksonville in 1956. While sewing may fall in the traditional “homemaker” role, Alice took that skill to remarkable heights. She made many beautiful dresses and blouses, tailored wool suits with perfectly matched plaids and patterns, and elegant ballroom gowns—whatever her Grandma Hires, her mother, Susan or she needed—none of which looked “homemade.” She also made swag and jabot draperies and built and covered cornice boards, and could re-upholster even diamond tufted chair backs—all at a quality equal to that the most expensive interior designer or supplier’s work. She even found time to crochet a bedspread and to design and build a quilting frame she used for her quilting projects. However, of all her many interests, her favorite was working in her yard. She developed the landscape design for every home she and Bob lived in and did the same for the homes her parents owned in Jacksonville and in Atlanta. She also planted most of the things that filled out her design, although she did permit Bob and Susan to lend a hand in the work. All three joined in the maintenance chores to keep shrubs trimmed, yard raked and grass mowed. She was able to continue most of her many types of activities until she was almost 90, when back problems finally prevented her from continuing this extraordinarily active life.
More than anything else, however, Alice was a caring person and a caregiver. She was a wonderful listener, whose genuine empathy communicated itself to others. Even total strangers seemed comfortable sharing intimate details of their lives after only a few minutes of talking with her. She was a caregiver since childhood, when her Grandpa Hires had a stroke and she began helping him fill his pipe and do other things that he no longer was able to do for himself. She took over primary care for her Grandma Hires during the last months of her life, when she was battling cancer. When Bob’s mother could no longer live independently in Olympia, Alice and her mother drove there and brought her back to Bob and Alice’s home, where she lived until she no longer could be cared for in a home environment. She always looked after the wellbeing of her own parents, taking them as they aged to their doctor’s appointments and looking after them when they were ill. Bob gave his full love and support to all her efforts to care for Grandma Hires, Julia and Emmett, for he loved them as though they were his own blood relatives.
Alice was predeceased by maternal grandparents Jacob Godfrey and Lula Smiley Hires and paternal grandparents William Stacy and Alma Woodcock Dubberly; parents William Emmett and Julia Hires Dubberly; maternal aunt Alma Hires Davis; and all of her paternal aunts and her paternal uncle. Alice never knew her Dubberly relatives as well as her Hires relatives, for all of her father’s family had moved from Tattnall County, Georgia to the Orlando area by about 1931 and she saw them fairly infrequently as a result. However, her mother’s only sibling, Alma (always called “Sister” by Alice’s family), lived in Pierce County after her marriage to Reppard W. Davis, and the two sisters frequently visited each other’s homes. Alice thus grew up knowing Sister’s family, and Sister’s two daughters were more like younger sisters than first cousins to Alice. Both of those first cousins, Myrtice Davis Fountain and Agnes Davis Callahan, predeceased her, as did all but one of her paternal first cousins. Alice is survived by her daughter Susan, her paternal first cousin Loretta Bagley Dow, and the surviving children of her first cousins Myrtice and Agnes: Jane Callahan Youmans, James (“Jim”) Carroll Callahan, James (“Jimmy’) William Fountain and Judy Fountain Byrd (who all referred to her as “Aunt Alice”), together with their descendants.
All who loved Alice are grateful for the care she received from Professional Registry of the Northside, esp. to her core group of caregivers during the last several years of her life: Chris Nelloms, Frances Samples, Lorna Wedderburn and Lucienne Richards.
Visitation will be at H.M. Patterson & Son-Arlington Chapel, 173 Allen Rd., Sandy Springs, GA on Wednesday, April 7th, from 6:00 p.m.-8 p.m. on Wednesday. A further visitation will be held at Pearson-Dial Funeral Home, 659 E. Main St., Blackshear, Georgia on Thursday, April 8th, from 6 to 7. Funeral services will be held in Rye Patch Baptist Church at 11 am on Friday, April 9th, followed by burial in the church’s cemetery. Those who prefer a charitable contribution in lieu of flowers may contribute in Alice’s name to Emory University for the Cahoon Family Chair in American History or to a charity of your choice.
Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online register at www.pearsondial.com.
Pearson-Dial Funeral Home is in charge of local arrangements.
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