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franklin county times

Emma Ann Kingston

Emma Ann Kingston passed away in Denver, Colorado on March 26, 2017 due to complications from Alzheimer’s syndrome. She was 85.

Emma was an Alabamian born to William and Elizabeth Lucas in Russellville in 1931. She attended public schools and was graduated from Russellville High School as class salutatorian. At the commencement ceremony she was struck mute and rendered unable to deliver her address to the class (she could be a bit excitable). Subsequently, she attended the University of Alabama where she could often be found strumming the ukulele at the sorority house. She found time to pore over the books when the opportunity presented itself. Honorary plaques she received for her scholarship bedeck the walls of the Chemistry Hall in Tuscaloosa to this day.

After graduation, while working at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, she was introduced to her future husband, Walter, on a blind date in the French Quarter. In spite of profound religious differences, Emma was impressed with his ‘54 Chevrolet  and, after a brief courtship, accepted his proposal of marriage. Nuptials took place in Alabama in a county which classified the consumption of alcohol as a felony. However, the revellers at the hymeneal festival were not to be deterred (‘’white lightning’’ was served from the trunks of parked cars).

The union produced three issue, Walter (b.1958, in spite of a negative rabbit test), Anne (b.1960) and Lucas (b.1961). Indoctrinated by Dr. Spock, Emma pursued a laissez-faire approach to raising children. Example (circa 1984), Lucas : ‘’Old thing, I’ve resolved to head to Tokyo with my cat, Pistachio.’’ Emma: “ Oh? What fun. Don’t forget to write.’’ A similar response was elicited when Walter announced that he was abandoning his legal career in Manhattan to go backpacking in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, the Mater could exhibit a merciless and punitive side. All of the heirs were required to leave the family manse no later than the onset of middle age (no exceptions).

Emma lived within a menagerie of animals, encouraging her children to raise dogs, raccoons, a horse, flying squirrels, snakes, a South American caiman and various rodents. She was particularly fond of cats and could not abide those persons who failed to appreciate the sweeping symmetry and masculine beauty of a rotund, jowly, neutered tomcat.

Emma’s work history is a study in diversity. While residing in Louisiana with her husband and family, Emma was employed by the Tulane University National Primate Research Center where she dispatched divers and sundry laboratory mice with solution of chloroform. Her powers of mimicry were at their peak during that period and she perfected an impersonation of her Thai supervisor which provided considerable levity at the family dinner table ( ‘’Emma, look at mouse face; dat mean mouse; Emma, kill dat mouse’’).

In 1975, Emma and the family relocated to Greenwich,Connecticut. After a brief existential crisis, she became employed as a real estate agent in for Douglas Elliman Pickering. Known as the ‘’Iron Magnolia’’, she excelled at her work and became a top producer. (Remark overheard at an open house in the back country ‘’Well, I declare, looks like that little ole Southern corn pone is doing O.K. for herself’’).

During her many years at Douglas Elliman, she formed many close and lasting friendships  which she long cherished. It was a very happy time for her.

In terms of her corporeal form, Emma was beautiful ( I guess she just couldn’t help it). She remained, to all appearances as a jeune fille who had merely acquired the patina of age. She was slender and active throughout her life and carried herself as though time had failed to make a strong impression upon her. In a cynical and tumultuous era, she maintained her innate innocence. In spite of what she termed ‘’vague yearnings’’, she was at peace with the world. She did not quest for the unattainable. She was gracious and generous and could instill confidence and contentment in others. She found an amusing side to most situations. Her frequent laughter suggested that the world could be viewed as a place of civility, abundance and goodness. She possessed charm, but never employed it for personal aggrandizement or recognition. The quality truly existed to place others at ease.

So, the little pigtailed girl from Alabama who liked to sit with her old man in the beer joints has left us. She who was crowned Franklin County Maid of Cotton in 1948; she who volunteered for the Head Start Program in rural Louisiana; she with the white gloves and pillbox hat; she who danced the Charleston and the Twist; she who walked the shore with a spaniel at her side; she with the luminous smile who drove an electric blue Ford Pinto; she the clarinetist in the marching band; she of the paddle tennis court and the church choir; she the Mother; She has left us…

We who remain in this sphere, will carry her spirit and wisdom with us. Thoughts of her will calm and restore us.

Emma was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, and her younger brother, Bill. She is survived by her children, her grandchildren, Will, Gavin and Gray Kingston, and her younger sister, Ruth Grissom.

A memorial service is scheduled to be held on June 10 at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 311 North Jackson Ave., Russellville.

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