‘Nanny’ addedcheer to valleyfor seven decades
Maxine Alcorn spent her final birthday last February in style.”She went bowling in her fur coat,” said her daughter Joann Houg. “She loved birthdays.”Maxine, Joann’s 89-year-old mother, died at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs on Friday.Maxine not only spent her own birthdays in style, but she also helped family and friends celebrate theirs.”She never forgot a birthday,” said Shirley Brown, Maxine’s eldest daughter. “Every birthday she did something special.” Monday, it was a girl get-together as Maxine’s daughters Joann and Shirley, granddaughter Tammie Sherman and granddaughter-in-law Janyce Brown talked about Maxine, aka “Nanny.” Besides her two daughters, Maxine leaves behind a brother, two sisters, two nephews, five grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.”She was really happy about being a fifth-generation grandma,” Shirley said.Shorty and MaxineA nearly 70-year resident of the Roaring Fork Valley, Maxine moved to Black Forest from Indiana with her father and two sisters when she was about 11, and graduated from the Black Forest Country School in Colorado Springs. Since Maxine loved to dance, her two daughters think Maxine probably met their father, W.J. “Shorty” Alcorn, in a bar.”Mom didn’t drink and or smoke,” Shirley said. “She was pretty naive, but she loved to dance, so she’d go out and dance with everyone.”Shorty and Maxine married in 1934. Shorty worked in the Placer Mine near Alma, and worked construction in Basalt. They settled in the town of Ruedi up the Frying Pan River Valley in the mid-1940s, pre-Ruedi Reservoir. There, the Alcorns ran a dude ranch, before the family moved to Glenwood. A hug for everyoneLiving in downtown Glenwood on Palmer Street gave Maxine access to lots of people, ideal for a woman who never knew a stranger.”We laugh because going with Mom to the market or the pool or into town would take forever,” said Joann, looking knowingly at Tammie. “She knew everybody, and if she didn’t know them, she’d meet them.” Maxine wasn’t one to use a handshake either. “Everybody got a hug,” said Shirley. “She hugged everyone.” After 53 years of marriage, Shorty had a heart attack while elk hunting in 1985, and Maxine was left to carry on. In a 1999 article in Western Slope Sunday by Judy King, Maxine said she grieved, and then, “I said ‘Enough of this.’ You’ve got to go on living.”That’s for sure. Maxine became known for her sense of style (lots of sequins and lots of red clothes). “Especially after Dad died, Mom started wearing lots of red,” said Shirley. And she was known for her affiliation with the Thistle Sisters, a vibrant group of cowgirl-inspired women organized by cowgirl extraordinaire Anita Witt, a dear friend of Maxine’s. Shirley said her mother’s church, the First Assembly of God on Pitkin Avenue, was important to her. The Alcorns even donated the land where the church sits. Spanning the globeShe also traveled extensively – everywhere from Disneyland (“She’d go from dawn to 12:30 at night!” said Tammie), to Branson, Mo., from Yellowstone to the Caribbean, from Scotland to Mexico.”On her 80th birthday, Mom went all over – to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Hawaii. She had bought a few pieces of jewelry in Fiji and I told her she didn’t need to claim them in customs. So, it’s her birthday, and they’re going over the equator on the plane, and the pilot gets on the loudspeaker and calls out her name, ‘Is there a Maxine Alcorn on the plane?’ She was certain they were going to arrest her for not claiming that jewelry in customs, and all they were doing was wishing her a happy birthday. They brought out champagne and everything, but she nearly had a heart attack!” No goodbyesThe stroke leading to Maxine’s death came suddenly, said her daughters.”Everybody was shocked,” Joann said. “We thought she would live forever. We really did. She was so full of life.” Maxine was living by herself in her own apartment, and was completely self-sufficient. “She lived near us, and did all the cooking for herself,” she said, “and for us!” “She’d rarely be at home when you’d call,” Shirley said. The week before her death, Maxine had cataract surgery, “because she wanted to be able to see to drive,” said Shirley. At that time, Joann said, her mother told her neighbor that she’d never want to be in a nursing home, or even in an assisted living facility. “It just wasn’t her way,” Joann said.Maxine died with her family around her.”She was never left alone,” Shirley said. “The night she died, we were all with her at the hospital,” Joann said. “Somebody said Nanny would think we were having a slumber party because we were laughing and giggling. It was very peaceful.””She never wanted to say goodbye,” said granddaughter Tammie. “She’d say, ‘See you later.'”Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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