GASTONIA - Anne McCown Whitesides Alexander, a godly woman of high moral character whose life was a testimony of sacrifice, service, love and grace, died Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, at Covenant Village in Gastonia.
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Born on March 20, 1921, she was the oldest child of Lillian McCown and Major Vance Whitesides. A lifelong resident of Gastonia, except while serving in the Red Cross at Camp Lejeune during WWII, Anne graduated from Gastonia High School in 1938. For two years she attended Erskine Col-lege and graduated Cum Laude from Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio, in 1942. John McAuley Alexander Jr., who predeceased her in 2007, and Anne were married on Dec. 17, 1943. They were married for more than 63 years.
Anne was a willing and faithful servant to her family, church, denomination, colleges, and community. For six years she was the Director of Chris-tian Education at her church, First ARP Church of Gastonia. For over 50 years, she taught Sunday School and Circle, and sang in the choir past her 90th birthday. She directed children's choirs and founded and directed the youth and adult hand bell choirs. She was instrumental in founding the Bonclarken Music Conference, including children's choirs as part of the conference. While serving on numerous boards and committees within the denomination, Anne was President of First Presbyterial and President of the Women's Synodical Union. In her 80s she led a quest to bring Interfaith Hospitality Network, a church sponsored ministry to the homeless, to Gastonia.
Anne was dedicated to the health and prosperity of Erskine College and Theological Seminary through the gift of her time, resources and talents. Significantly, Anne was past president of the Erskine College Alumni Association, past member of the Erskine Seminary Board of Counselors, and past member and secretary of the Erskine College Board of Trustees.
Many community activities received her commitment and love. She was a lifetime member of Piedmont Girl Scout Council and a Junior Scout Leader who led the first racially integrated troop in Gastonia. Anne was a charter member of the Gastonia Community Concert Association, the Sharps and Flats Music Club, the Gastonia Opera Guild, and the Gaston Choral Society. She was appointed to a study commission that subsequently recommended the construction of the present Gaston Memorial Hospital and served on the Board of Trustees. Other community involvement in-cludes the Downtown Faith Network and Study Club.
Many various organizations recognized her for her service and leadership. She received the Juliet Lowe Award from the Pioneer Girl Scout Council, a certificate of appreciation for 50 years of service from the Community Concert Association, a certificate of appreciation from Erskine College and Seminary Board of Trustees in 1981, the Distinguished Alumni Award by the Erskine Alumni Association in 1987, the Chairman's Award by the Er-skine Board of Counselors in 1993, the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award by Erskine College in 1993 and an honorary Doctor of Humanities by Erskine College in 1997. Erskine Theological Seminary awarded her the Julia Hardeman Rhodes Award for her dedication to women's work. The Gastonia Civitan Club named her "Woman of the Year" in 1987.
The family of Mrs. Alexander would like to thank the nurses and staff of Covenant Village Arbor Wing, Courtyard Wing, and Gaston Hospice for their care and support.
Survivors of Mrs. Alexander include her three children, John Whitesides Alexander and wife Sandy of Gastonia; Dr. Robert McAuley Alexander and wife Jeanie of Rock Hill, S.C.; Mary Elizabeth "Beth" Alexander Rickenbaugh and husband Jim of Charlotte; seven grandchildren, Vance Whitesides Alexander and wife Nicole of Charleston, S.C.; Walter Revell Alexander and wife Kim of Knoxville, Tenn.; Julia Anne Alexander of Lansing, Mich.; Robert McAuley Alexander Jr. and wife Kara of Atlanta, Ga.; Christina Marie Alexander of Gastonia; Anne Catherine Rickenbaugh of Nashville, Tenn.; and Alexander Kemp Rickenbaugh of Charlotte; three great-grandchildren, Walter Revell Alexander Jr. of Knoxville; Blythe McNeill Alexander and Lillian Redgrave Alexander, both of Charleston; brother, Dr. Edward Steele Whitesides of Clover, S.C.; sister, Mary Lou Whitesides Pearson of Gasto-nia; brother-in-law, Bevin Ray Alexander of Bremo Bluff, Va. She was also greatly loved and admired by her nieces and nephews.
A service to celebrate Mrs. Alexander's life will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, at First ARP Church, with the Revs. Eddie Spencer and Matt Kui-kan officiating.
The family will receive friends on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, in the Assembly Room at Covenant Village and following the service on Sunday in the church fellowship hall.
A private service of committal will be held for the family at Oakwood Cemetery, Gastonia.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First ARP Church, 317 S. Chester St., Gastonia, NC 28052, Erskine College Class of 1942 Scholarship Fund, 2 County Road S-1-335, Due West, SC 29639, Bonclarken Conference Center Grounds, 500 Pine Drive, Flat Rock, NC 28731, or Muskingam University, 163 Stormont Street, New Concord, OH 43762.
Condolence messages may be sent online at www.McLeanFuneral.com.
McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the family of Mrs. Alexander.
McLean Funeral Directors
700 South New Hope Road
Gastonia, NC 28054
Published in Gaston Gazette on Jan. 18, 2013