‘Aunt Alice’ celebrates 100th birthday

Tonya Harcum Smith of Colonial Heights, formerly of Lancaster, designed this creative cake with Alice Rich’s image. Smith is the great-great-greatniece of Mrs. Rich.

Family and friends of Alice Rich gathered recently at the White Stone Church of the Nazarene to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Mrs. Rich, affectionally known to most as “Aunt Alice,” is the daughter of the late John and Julia Smith. She was born January 14, 1917, in Merry Point and attended Merry Point Elementary School, reported Arlene Spencer.

Aunt Alice’s mother died when she was just 10. Along with her dad, “Papa,” she took on the role of mother to her siblings, Lonnie, Evelyn, Riley, Harry, Mahalia, Isaac and George. Little did she know at that time, this would be a calling from God in this life.

Her mother had taught her very well. She knew how to cook, clean and all other duties of a mother. She was mainly a mother to her younger siblings, as the older ones could take care of themselves. She made sure that they went to school and did not let anyone bother them.

She tells the story of how George was being picked on at school. She called up William Howard, her neighbor, and they went through the woods to the school and beat up whomever was picking on her brother. She was their protector.

Aunt Alice made taking care of her siblings a priority. Her dad worked and provided financially for the family along with her older brother, Lonnie.

When Alice was 15, she met Paul Rich. They were married on September 15, 1936, by Rev. J.J. Nickens. They did not have any children but she became a mother to many of her nieces and nephews. Alice and Paul moved to Baltimore in 1941. She would remain there until 1992, when she moved back to Merry Point after Paul’s passing in 1990.

Aunt Alice enjoys Bible studies, singing and baking. She is known for her delicious chocolate cake.

She spends most days reminiscing with her only surviving sibling, Mahila Henderson, and her nieces Nancy and Mary Frances, who help take care of her. She has a goddaughter Crystal, and her mother, Arlene (Vell), who is just like a daughter.


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