Alice Mae (McCann) Alexander, 79, of Hermiston died December 15, 2016, in Hermiston.
Alice Mae McCann was born on March 6th, 1937, in New Rockford, N.D., to Parley and Agnes McCann. Her father worked for the railroad and mother as a teacher and childcare provider. Alice was the middle child, with older brothers Jim and Gerald, a younger sister Martha, and a younger brother John. Their home was modest, but full of love, good food, a full bookcase and many discussions of ideas — and even a pet rabbit.
Alice attended a couple of terms of college before taking her first teaching job at 19. It was a challenging but enjoyable one, teaching grades 1-6 in a one-room schoolhouse in a township a few miles from home. She later returned to college, graduating from Mayville State College in June of 1960 with a Bachelor of Science in education, and a minor in library science. She also participated in drama and speech clubs.
Alice’s next adventure was teaching in the “Iron Range” of Minnesota. She spoke wistfully of those years, living in an old brick apartment with adjoining rooms with some other young teachers who became her friends.
She later moved to Casper, Wyoming, where she met Dick Alexander through mutual friends. They married and moved to Cheyenne, Wyo., where they had three daughters, Alexis, Angie and Allison. Dick then transferred to Villisca, Iowa, where they both worked for the Good Samaritan Nursing Home, with Dick as the administrator and Alice as a social worker. A few years later, Dick accepted a position as the administrator at Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Hermiston, Oregon, where they made their final home.
Alice obtained her master’s degree in education through Eastern Oregon University, and returned to her passion, teaching. She worked as a substitute teacher for several years before accepting the position as teacher for the alternative school with the ESD, where she met her good friend Terry Palmer, who she remained close with throughout the years. Alice later transferred to the alternative school in Umatilla before retiring in 2001. She felt well-suited to the unconventional structure of the alternative program, expressing that the smaller class sizes enabled her to make more of a difference in her students’ lives. Alice was always delighted to run into her former students around town.
When her daughters were little she chaperoned various school field trips, and assisted with numerous school science projects and plays. Over the years she was active at the United Methodist Church and generously donated her time and resources to causes such as Agape House, Habitat for Humanity, Open Table, Hospice and the Humane Society.
She loved the great outdoors, folk music, tending to her garden, and valued quiet moments of contemplation. She appreciated the “dry desert air” of Eastern Oregon, and was drawn to architecture — old churches and castles in particular. She was also a storyteller. When her daughters were little, the Alexanders held annual Halloween parties that were well-known among all of the kids on the street, where Alice would tell the ghost story of “Lavender” while the kids gathered around. She also loved Christmas carols and was known for her delicious homemade bread she would make for communion and gifts. She always had a soft spot for animals, living with an assortment of cats and dogs throughout most of her life. She often joked that people sooner or later began to look like their pets, and vice-versa. She will be dearly missed by many.
Alice is survived by daughters Angie Shepard and Allison Alexander; brothers Jim and John McCann; grandchildren Reese, Stephen, Matthew and Maressa Shepard; several great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews Cindy Tag Nygord, Tim McCann, Dan McCann, Steve McCann, Mike McCann, Joan McCann Bechtold, Denise McCann Hays David McCann.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Dick Alexander, and daughter Alexis.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, March 11th at 11 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Hermiston.
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston is in care of arrangements.