Editor’s note: Today we begin a new series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them.


She may have been old, but she was sharper than many half her age, and if you picked an argument, you’d likely be on the losing side.

Alma Ladd DeWalt of Charlotte died Nov. 29, 2010, at Liberty Home Care, where she once worked as a private-duty aide. She was 103 and loved caring for others, whether family or not.

She was born in Pickens County, S.C., one of four children, and she outlived all of her siblings. She lived in Buffalo, N.Y., from 1936 to 1964 and was a licensed beautician. She and her husband, Vassar, retired to Charlotte, where Alma became a nurses’ assistant.

Alma was loyal to her church, Parkwood Institutional CME Church, and the congregation named her Woman of the Year in 1992. She joined in ’64 when it was still Williams Tabernacle CME Church.

An avid worker

“She was an avid worker and was proud to be a stewardess,” said nephew Robert Ladd.

Alma and Vassar had no children, but Alma was a favorite aunt, foster mother and godmother to many. Her doors were always open and the table was always set.

“She was an excellent cook and expected us to visit every Sunday,” Robert recalled. “When she got older and not able to cook like in better days, we’d go out to eat or she’d have Chinese brought in. She always wanted to feed us, and she did that with everybody. She was a very outgoing, loving person.”

Robert’s wife, Thelma, had known Alma for 50 years.

“She dressed to impress,” Thelma said. “She wore high heels, painted her nails and dyed her hair. You’d look at her two or three times.”

Nephew Howard Johnson described her as “a very classy dresser.”

“You wouldn’t think someone that old would be so proud of how she presented herself outside,” he said.

Pan-fried steak

When Howard first moved to Charlotte, he lived with Aunt Alma and appreciated her meals.

“She could really cook steaks,” he recalled. “She put them in a frying pan.”

Thelma’s friend, Lydia Johnikin, loved hearing about Alma. Lydia had a grandmother who was 103, and the friends traded stories of their venerable relatives.

“They were real spunky ladies who admired life and lived it to the fullest,” she said.

Robert recalled his aunt as an independent woman who’d take off for the mall in high heels.

“Her mind was just as good the day before she died as it was at 50,” he said. “She never had senility or dementia, but she had her ways. She was independent to the point of being stubborn, but she was a good woman.”

Nephew Andrew Ladd said Alma always had a smile and wanted to do things for others.

“People gravitated to her,” he said. “They fell in love with her and she with them.”

Heaven’s got to be an even better place now that Aunt Alma’s there.


Gerry Hostetler is a Charlotte writer who specializes in personal tributes. Email her at gerryhostetler@carolina.rr.com, or visit her website at http://www.gerryhostetler.com. Qcitymetro.com publishes free obituaries and death notices as a service to our readers. Email obits@qcitymetro.com.

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