Message from Dave and Carrie Stocker, Rockford, IL - November, 2019

Shared by Paul Ingersoll on November 22, 2019

Hello and a heartfelt embrace to the dear family of Alma Otley Ingersoll Hix - Claudia, Lisa Julie and your families - And especially Paul, Tony, Chick and Peter whom I have known since I was in diapers. And to your families as well. Now we span children’s children’s children.

This is Dave Stocker in Illinois 62 years old and still feeling the recent joy of reunion in August with Paul and Sarah here en route to back East. Their trailer was pulled up close by our house at The Compound on Rural St. We sat, cooked out and told stories in our drive for three days as we watched the dogs circulate. Second Morning, Paul dialed Alma and there she was on FaceTime  to see us and say, “ There’s my boys!” I am so grateful to Paul for this moment. 

And I think of you all as part of many experiences and places, big snow in Cazenovia, Wayne, PA. We stayed in a tent platform before the first cabin, beach combing for arrowheads and dragging sunken rowboats back to shore at the River. The Bohemian Queen, bouncing really far across the Bay with Frank in the Boston Whaler, epic prison break games after dark & collapsing in a room with gym mats and a rope swing off the rafters!!  

Tony and me off to Europe found ourselves a few degrees above the Arctic circle and utterly sleepless in a bright orange tent and then in Venice the day Nixon resigned! A boisterous American tourist was so happy he bought us dinner!  My first try at grad school in Dallas it meant a lot to be close to Charles and Margaret- friends in what seemed a distant land. 

Peter, I remember the sound of your guitar from way back in Philly. I dreamed of becoming a cabinetmaker-guitarist. I did it man. (and later you turned up living with Paul in Aurora, IL)...seeing Claudia and Peyton  .was it up the Housatonic as I headed out of New Haven to live in the midwest thirty years ago. and here I still am. So many stories like the flow of rivers and tides of the ocean. I have these great memories through the gift of Alma’s friendship with my parents, Pat and Jim Stocker.

Alma left a deep impression on me and affected my life in a big big way. She gave me a kind of permission to be a boy, and I always felt just wonderful in her company. It would be with great joy that Carrie and I might have the chance to see and greet any of you and offer safe mooring here just west of Chicago or let’s meet by bigger water somewhere and, please let it not be too long.

Thinking of you all with gratitude, love & deep peace.

Dave & Carrie Lee Stocker

Letter to Alma's Children from Jim and Pat Stocker - November, 2019

Shared by Paul Ingersoll on November 22, 2019

Dear Tony, Charles, Paul and Peter,

We were so blessed to have known Alma for a very long time and to have shared many events together at all the various stages of our lives.

Jim and I first knew Howie Ingersoll at Cornell. He had been dating a sorority sister of mine and they had parted ways and he kept “hanging around the house” where everyone knew him. I too was “hanging around the house” because Jim had graduated and we were committed to each other. I was “on duty” at the telephone of the sorority on Friday and Saturday evenings. Howie and I did a lot of talking and spent a lot of time together, always as good friends. Later I came to regard Howie as the brother which I never had.

We reconnected at a Reunion at Cornell and discovered that he and Alma lived nearby in Wayne. We were in Media and quickly began to bring our young families together;I think the first time we stayed at Bohemia was when Dave was 1 1/2 yrs. old, 1958. I think we have pictures of Tony and Dave running around on the uneven ground. I remember your big house in Wayne with your two aunts living on the third floor. Very briefly Alma and I even did some design work, remodeling plans for people. We even entered a GE kitchen design contest!

In 1964, we moved to Menlo Park CA and that’s where we were when we learned of Howie’s sudden death. Jim was making monthly visits to Scott Paper Co. in Philadelphia at the time. Seems very strange now, but we did not fly freely, nor did we talk endlessly on the telephone in those days. In our extreme despair after Howie’s death,Alma and I wrote very long letters back and forth for a long time. (I returned the letters she wrote to me recently in Estes Park). It was the first young death in our lives and shockingly sad for us too.

Jim saw Alma each month for the next year on his visits to Philadelphia and and said I’d hardly recognize her, she was so thin. She set a date to visit us (likely May) and I saw her come down the ramp in the airport on the arm of a man whom she introduced to me. They kissed as they part and she said……… ”Well, I WAS going to wait until later tonight to tell you that you’ve just met the man I’m going to marry”………Frank Hix. They were married in late June I think!And the rest is history!

We were lucky to continue our close relationship and got to know Frank well and loved him also. Through the various moves for GE, almost to Scottsdale AZ and Syracuse NY and Westport CT (we visited there too) and our move back to Rosemont in 1967 and then to London 1971-1976 we stayed in touch. We probably met at Bohemia several times. In London Frank and Alma visited us, more than once. We shake our heads now in wonder (you two must have been 15 and 16?) but Tony joined Dave and traveled throughout Europe by Eur-Rail ending up in Monaco w/Prince Albert, for Stephanie’s 17th birthday as I recall. Wow!!Quite an adventure.

At some point Alma preceded Frank in moving to Estes Park to run the insurance business and we visited them there, I think, soon after we returned to the US in 1976. At some time we sailed in the Caribbean several years together, bareboat out of Honduras (w/the Raymonds and Kilbournes). And then we investigated the western part of US together, first adding Joanne and Ken Tunnell from Cornell, and then Lynn and Dean McEwen tour traveling group. As best as we can reconstruct these decades the travels were: Durango and the four corners area w/the railroad ride in 1997 and Chaco Canyon;we were in Mendocino, north of San Francisco in September 2001 (we continued w/our travel plans once we learned that all family members were okay) Fort Ross, Calistoga, Lake Tahoe, Sacramento;Mississippi steamboat Memphis to New Orleans where the MacEwens had lived (we had extra historical tours with Lynn) in 2003;the Columbia River for Lewis and Clark anniversary trip in 2005;Portland, Maine and St. Lawrence River to Quebec w/Taulk Tours in 2007;Southern Oregon, Ashland, Crater Lake, and the coast in 2010;Nova Scotia and Halifax in 2012. The list is not totally accurate but the trips were really wonderful!

During these years, with the Hixes in Estes Park and the Stockers in Menlo Park CA, we joined Alma and Frank on Stanley Steamer Rallies twice, out of McCall, Idaho, and out of San Luis Obispo, CA. Jim was in charge of “finding water” along the highway for these five day adventures. Frank’s cars were considered “the best”. We never had any problems at all!He was an expert and the most respected leader of the Stanley owners. We also joined them one year at Monterey CA where he had been asked to exhibit one of his steamers. As I recall they dressed in their period clothes, as we knew they did in Estes in their historical tours in the 12 passenger red steamer!!

We had many wonderful times with these dear friends. Whenever we reunited, we never missed a beat, it was old times as if we’d been together always. We loved them Alma and Frank dearly, such wonderful lifelong friends and are lucky to have so many lovely memories.

Pat and Jim Stocker

November 2019

Pre-Twitter Twitter - Alma Style

Shared by Peter Ingersoll on November 3, 2019
Simple premise: pen, paper and stamp.

Anyone who knew Alma occasionally or frequently received clippings in the U.S. mail with an O.M.G. hand-written address! Clippings from the New Yorker, NY Times, National Geo and many other sources. These clippings usually had a sticky note of explanation such as “Thought this was interesting” or “Can you imagine?” followed with a simple signature – Love, Mom.

My favorites were the cartoons from the New Yorker – that’s all I read from the magazine anyway.

All of us growing up saw her around the round kitchen table processing checks, opening mail, reading correspondence from her friends with her tools laid out before her. Letter opener, pen, paper, envelopes, stamps, sticky notes, stapler, stapler remover and her ever-present address book filled out mostly in pencil but with some spots of white out, plus her calendar. That’s it.

She always softly hummed to herself as she sorted, wrote and sealed the envelopes.

She communicated with a large network of friends, family, vendors and business associates with those blunt, pre-digital instruments. She held the family together with those simple tools and a couple of additional ingredients. Ingredients like: parties, food, libation, jokes, gatherings and especially her stories. Mom believed that in a room full of people there should never be dead air. A story must be told – the funnier the better.

Stories about growing up on Bohemia. Stories about her funny Danish relatives. Stories about the successes and escapades of her children and stories about her parents and her siblings. Stories set up jokes and jokes led into more stories. It was a never-ending carousel of images and laughter. Light particles swirling in the room; a spinning prism; little windows illuminating faces with laughter and warmth.

The Ingersoll/Otley/Hix/Hamilton clan are a loud bunch simply because that is the only way to get a word in edgewise. 

Like a jazz trumpeter, Alma was able to use circular breathing to hold a continuous note, a continuous story without ever taking a breath. Cracks between sentences were hard to anticipate and when one did pop up, we all had to be ready to pounce on the opportunity – and pounce loudly to assert ourselves into that nano-second.

Dad was a good sport about mom holding court his whole life. He was naturally taciturn and was happy to let mom be the center of entertainment. Good personality match and wise marital strategy!

I remember him clearly sitting at the end of the table with a smile of amusement on his faceshaking his head listening to all of us talk about our escapades, escapes from the arms of the law and other bone-head stories, yet still he kept his opinions to himself. If you asked dad a question, he would give you a direct answer, but faced with Otley mayhem and revelry, he wisely chose to be a member of the audience.

Mom patterned her story telling after her mother, Gammy – who was a fearless kidder of the rich, famous and self-important. She charmed everyone with her wit, candor and punchlines. Her practical jokes were legendary. No one was immune.

Mom patterned her work ethic from Pop Otley, her father. He too ran business in exactly this way. Hand written letters.

Pop and Gammy were generous to the extended family and mom and dad incorporated these family traditions into their approach to our family.

When mom cleaned out her files in Estes Park preparing to move to their Ptarmigan home, she send a hand-written letter from Pop Otley addressed - that is speaking directly to me on my 1st birthday. I had never seen this before. This letter was included in a whole box full of report cards from grade school and other memorabilia. I am so grateful mom saved this letter. The letter is on Kelly for Brickwork stationary and I can hear Pop’s fountain pen scratching the paper and hear his voice on the page.

Pop and Gammy sent every grandchild $100 on their birthday. The tradition of loving and supporting a large extended family is a legacy that was started with Pop and Gammy Otley and continued with Alma Otley Ingersoll Hix and our beloved father, C. Frank Hix. The same traditions can be seen in the vast and growing Hamilton/Bowden clan.

All of us who knew Gammy and Pop and Alma and Frank have been enriched and entertained and welcomed. Let the new stories begin and the legends remembered!

Alma and Her Astonishing Design Talent

Shared by Ricki Ingersoll on October 28, 2019
I moved to Colorado to find a husband and met Peter in October 1992. 

Peter loves to say that he was the first man I met in Colorado with a full set of teeth and that is why I picked him. Teeth or no teeth, it was love at first sight. I met Peter’s parents soon after we met. As it turned out Alma and I had a lot in common. We both majored in architecture, we loved designing and building homes, we loved nature, plants, birds and wildlife. I loved Estes Park and the Deck House they built.

During our family discussions about architecture we all decided that it would be fun to become associated with Deckhouse as designers and builders. Peter and I were already building homes in Boulder, but Peter’s dream was to be in business with his parents. We embarked on this journey and Alma and I attended a Deckhouse training session. We loved the designs of Deckhouse, the quality of materials and the post and beam structure. Over the course of 6 years we built a magnificent Deckhouse, which we sold, and designed and built 18 post and beam custom homes, renovated an office, which sold to the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute, land planned 64-affordable housing units, created 3 lots on Frank and Alma’s property that they sold. We merged the hillside lot into the car barn property to create high density for future development. Alma was a wonderful kitchen designer and she was very proud of her accomplishments and many compliments for her design. The City of Estes Park named our River Rock Condominium project as the best example of the Heritage Style of Estes Park.

Before our home was completed in Estes Park we lived with Frank and Alma for a year with Diana, Winnie our pug and Chico the cat in their cozy Deckhouse on Big Horn Drive. I have many funny and heartwarming stories from this time of Peter’s and my early married life with Frank and Alma, which I will never forget. Frank and Alma gave me the opportunity to see my dreams come true. These were some of the best days of my life.
Besides being a friend and the best mother-in-law, Alma was a haven for Peter and me. An outstanding woman of many talents, she understood the overwhelming task of taking on the responsibility for children from another marriage. When Peter and I decided to get married, I did not know that his ex-wife would give him sole custody of his children. This was a shock to me and a very difficult undertaking to handle. I loved Peter and naively felt that our love would heal all wounds. I also felt I had a sacred duty to help Peter’s daughters grow and become successful women in the best way I could. Alma was a key figure and so very helpful to Peter and me with his girls. We could not have dealt with the many challenges and adjustments that were required of us newlyweds. Diana’s ongoing occupational and reading therapy and later Jessica’s Lyme disease.
Alma had a big heart and she opened her heart to my grown children and our grandchildren. My daughter, Julie Frederick and her husband, Kevin Frederick and Peter became very close. She and my daughter Julie, both highly-educated, intellectuals, who talked for hours in Maryland during many summer vacations, which occurred with all our family members. 

It fills my heart with sadness that both Frank and Alma have left our life. I miss them both so much and picture them in heaven planning their next big event – a family gathering, of course. 

As a child, my grandmother told me a soothing myth that when a loved one passes away I should picture them as a bird flying home to God to remind me that their Soul has taken flight back home. When my mother passed, I saw a road runner near our home the very next day. My dad always called my mother “the little roadrunner.” When Frank passed and we visited Alma in Maryland a statuesque bald eagle landed and perched on a branch just below the Roost porch.

These past few weeks there has been a new light grey bird in our yard during the day singing a beautiful song. Yesterday as Peter and I walked the nature preserve near our home we both saw the bird. A professional photographer was taking its photo and told me it was a Southern California Mockingbird, which is shy during the day and usually sings at night. It was unusual to see this elusive bird in the morning singing its heart out.

That is how I will always remember Alma, as a friend, business partner, confidante and dear loved one who was always giving, pouring out her love and advice and singing from her heart to whoever in her family needed her warm heart.

Two Families Made Whole

Shared by Peter Ingersoll on October 27, 2019
The three deepest, most compelling lessons that I learned from my parents – Frank and Alma Hix – was that family is inclusive; that love can spring up anywhere; that planning is essential to create shared memories.

I used to kid my mother that her marriage to Frank worked so well because they were equally desperate. She would laugh and tell a story of one of us doing something stupid as teenagers – usually involving the police. It is hard to imagine mom and dad managing the death of a spouse AND caring for seven grieving teenage brats before they met each other. Make no mistake, we were brats . . . well, at least we boys were.

Looking back at it from my sister’s point of view, it must have felt like a neutron bomb went off in their household. In an instant, a tranquil, petite and cultured household (my sisters wore white gloves in many family photos at the time) turned into a rugby match with smelly uniforms draped over couches and shower rods. Oh, the trauma they endured inheriting four loud, farting, spitting, nose-picking brothers. They are true survivors and managed to come out the other end relatively intact except for those occasional recurring nightmares. Poor things. There was nothing that could have prepared them for our arrival.

The worst nine months of my life were being a single dad during my divorce taking care of one teenager and a pre-teen. It gave me a perspective on how frantic both Alma and Frank must have been. Fortunately for us, mom and dad were both very pragmatic and simply moved forward to get the job done with the minimum of drama, fanfare or second-guessing.

My earliest childhood memories are of a needlepoint hanging on the wall commemorating mom’s marriage to Howard. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I actually looked at the date to realize Howard and Alma were married a mere 7-months before I was born. Oh my God, it was a shotgun wedding! My mom was not quite as innocent as I had imagined all those years. I took the framed needlepoint off the wall the presented it to mom simply pointing at the date.

She laughed, shrugged her shoulders and said, “So? You never noticed or asked! Is there something you want to change?”

Mom and dad worked as a team fully aware of the “so-called” gender responsibilities of each. I witnessed an a scene at our new home on Tenby Road shortly after they were married, where dad ambled into the kitchen and complained that he was tired of being solely responsible for fixing all the things the “kids” broke – meaning the mechanical objects we boys destroyed – like cars, tractors, lawn mowers, televisions, stereos, screen doors, garage doors, bed frames, windows, hinges, handles, light fixtures and drywall – just to touch on the highlights.

He trotted out the rhetoric of the age for the late 1960’s, “This is not equality of the sexes!” he argued. Mom turned to him with her hands on her hips, apron as armor, wooden mixing spoon as sword and barked:

“You spend 10 hours fixing things, I spend 10 hours cooking, shopping and organizing. That’s equal and that's fair. Now go find something to do and tell the girls to set the table.”

“Okay”, Frank responded and shuffled dutifully out of the kitchen.

“Hmm,” I thought, “that’s pretty simple to understand.” I then made myself scarce to avoid being assigned a chore. I have applied this lesson in my marriage to Ricki and it works – mostly, at least the part about being gone when chores are needed.

It would not have been possible for me and Ricki to be married – let alone care for two unruly teenagers - without mom’s tireless help and support. About a month before the wedding, which she graciously hosted in her back yard in Estes Park, she called me to tell me she was very proud of me. This was a first! I asked why. She said, “I am proud that you are marrying an older woman and not a young chippie. Older women have so much to offer.”

I thanked her and hung up amazed, then immediately looked up the meaning of the word “chippie” - Synonyms: floozy, hussy, tramp, trollop, wench, Jezebel.

I hadn’t thought of my betrothal in those terms, but it was quite prophetic. It would have been impossible for me to have sole custody of my two daughters without the help of a woman who had already raised teenagers. Without having mom and dad as role models, I would never have had the maturity or insight to seek the help of someone wiser than me to help me raise my daughters – my beautiful wife, Ricki.

Ricki and I consciously emulated the lessons I (we) learned from Frank and Alma in trying to merge our new family just as they did. We learned that it takes constant effort, thought, coordination, money and time. It is hard to imagine how mom and dad coordinated their schedules to get to see all the graduations, ceremonies and events of kids and grandkids, yet somehow, they managed as evidenced by all the family pictures on this lovely memorial site.

My grandkids love Maryland and loved Mimi and Pop and Uncle Jess – the One-Eyed Pirate - sitting on the bluff looking out over the water. I have included some of their photos while at Maryland. Even though Alma is not in the frame she was there with us often. These images are so like all the extended family photos of time spent at the beach, on the dock and in the water at the River/Roost that they are timeless in the way that shared experiences have the power to bind a family together. The kinds of shared experiences that mom and dad worked so hard to create with a brand-new family of seven children. These images are a tribute to their love for us and for their entire extended family.

The parenting techniques me and Ricki learned and employed from mom and dad were often successful, with one major difference. As widowers, Mom and dad were lucky in the sense that they did not have to deal with jealous, scheming and meddling ex-spouses. We siblings accepted their decisions because mom and dad were a unified front. We never questioned their decisions. I don’t recall any major rebellion among my siblings. We teenagers whined, complained, made up outrageous excuses for our misbehavior, half-heartedly completed our chores and frequently blamed the dog, but we always accepted and embraced that we were a family. There was never any question.

We were the real, live Brady Bunch including a British nanny: Aunt Edith.

Siblings who don’t fight as kids don’t exist. And we were no exception, but I can honestly say – speaking for us all - that we all always felt loved, cared for and equally supported by mom and dad.

It is a feat of magic and unending love to meld together seven children and it is quite a legacy to contemplate. I miss them both terribly.
Peter Ingersoll 10/27/2019

Share a Story

Illustrate your story with a picture, music or video (optional):