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Wife of Jack DeLaye Alford, AAFA #0543







Beaumont, Jefferson Co., TX—Sunday, 29 July 2007


            Julia Kathryn Plake Alford, 84, of Beaumont, died Friday, July 27, 2007. Julia Kathryn Plake Alford, daughter of Sidney Richard and Julia Ann Francis Plake, was born on May 24, 1923 in Bon Ami, Louisiana. Kathryn graduated from Beaumont High School in 1940. In the following year she married Jack Alford on Christmas Day.

            Kathryn retired from J.C. Penny in 1983 after eighteen years of dedicated service. She was a very loving wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She will be greatly missed by all of her family, many nieces, nephews and other loving and caring friends.

            Her brothers, Frank Richard Plake, Sidney Richard Plake, Jr.; and sisters, Roxie Morrison, Mary Gladys Kirby, Inez Jones, Mildred Ruth Cooper and Dorothy Richards preceded her in death.

            Survivors include her husband of sixty-five years, seven months and two days, Jack Alford ; her two children, Mary Ellen Martin [AAFA #1052] and her husband Gerald of San Antonio and Alan Alford and his wife Carol of Baytown; five grandchildren, Sheila Ryan and her husband Paul of Sherman, Texas, Kimberly Crook and her husband Bill of Tampa, Florida, Kevin, Stephanie and Danielle Alford all of Baytown; and eight great grandchildren ( Kathryn was known to all as “GG”).

            Many thanks to Christine Carey with Linda’s Angels and all the great people who cared for her in the last days. Also to Odyssey Health Care that served her with much love and compassion to the end. The combined efforts have made her passing easier as she entered her heavenly home.

            A graveside service will be 10:00 a.m. Monday, July 30, 2007 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park with Reverend Paul Ryan officiating, under the direction of Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin, Beaumont. A gathering of family and friends will be from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Sunday, July 29, 2007 at the Mortuary. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 5144, Beaumont, Texas 77726 or to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, P.O. Box 199300, Dallas, Texas 75219. Complete and updated information may be viewed at


AAFA NOTES: SSDI records confirm the birth and death dates of Kathryn Alford (SS # issued in TX).

            Her husband’s lineage: Jack DeLaye 1922 TX1, Jasper Newell 1883 TN12, Nelson Ellis 1854 TN3, John William 1825 TN4, George Washington 1794 VA5, John 1760 VA6, William 1738 VA7, John 1696 ??8.


            Kathryn’s grandson-in-law, Paul Ryan (husband of Sheila Martin, daughter of Mary Alford Martin, AAFA #1052), gave this is the eulogy at the service, posted to his blog, [2009: no longer available], along with this photo:



I’ve been out for the last week due to the death of my wife’s grandmother. After several years of struggle, she died last week. Before this, she had asked that I lead the funeral service when she was gone. So I was honored to comply with her wishes. Funeral services are never easy for me, but this one was especially difficult. Below is the eulogy I wrote to honor her life:


            Julia Kathryn Plake Alford ... grew up in a large family. She must have been a curious and thoughtful child, inheriting the Plake tenacity and always wanting “to find out for herself.” She was certainly loved by her father, who made Jack promise “to take care of his baby,” whatever may come.

            Kathryn graduated from Beaumont High School in 1940. Kathryn was a stunningly beautiful young woman, who could easily have had her choice of suitors, but the following year she married the love of her life, Jack DeLaye Alford on Christmas Day, 1942.

            God blessed their marriage. Though they married as the war began, and she spent several years alone, she remained faithfully committed to Jack when many others did not. Kathryn anxiously awaited his return from Europe, and in time was rewarded. God also blessed their marriage with children. Mary Ellen was born October 11th, 1946 and a few years later, Jack Alan on October 27th, 1956. Always the loving mother, she raised them and eventually cared for their children and grandchildren.

            In 1965 Kathryn returned to work. She gave 18 years of dedicated service to J.C. Penny, retiring in 1983.

            Her life was always centered around family. When Mary was diagnosed with MS, she cared for Sheila and Kim as if they were her own. When a sitter was needed, Kevin, Stephanie and Danny were semi-permanent residents on Florida Ave. Anytime was a good time for everyone to come over to visit, and eat, and stay as long as we wanted.

Even her curiosity was driven by family interests. She spent years researching, compiling and putting together notebooks on family genealogy, and historical data.

            She was the queen of hospitality. Those of us who married into the family, Gerald, Carol, myself and Bill were welcomed as if we’d been born in it. The first time I met her, at a wedding shower shortly before Sheila and I married, we went through the usual 20 questions. Not knowing what to call her, I addressed her as “Mrs. Alford.” She immediately corrected me, and insisted that I call her “grandma.” I did, and from that moment on, she was.

            She was always ready with a glass of tea, a full table, a waiting bed and a smiling (sometimes slobbery) kiss for us when it was time to leave. I will miss those kisses.

Most of all I will remember for her love of her husband Jack. Now if you know Jack, that might be a feat in and of itself. But it went much deeper than a commitment to their marriage. Through the ups and downs and decades of raising children, military service, shift-work, strikes, endless Masonic meetings she never lost the twinkle in her eye for Jack.

            I remember a year or two after Sheila and I married, after discovering that Grandma had become an avid Rush Limbaugh listener, I asked her what she thought about some comment he had made. She looked at me and said that she had stopped listening, because “Jack didn’t like it.” Now some would look at Jack and say, “what a horrible person for not allowing Kathryn to listen to what she wanted.” But Grandma didn’t look at it that way at all. She simply knew that her love for Jack far outweighed being entertained by Limbaugh’s radio show. She knew that love is not love when it is only expressed to the one who is easy to love, but real love is shown when you love in spite of the difficulties....