Edna Marie Cromer, a native of Leeds and a resident of Moody, passed away on April 5, 2013.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Thomas H. Cromer, a native of Hagerstown, Ind., her parents, James Milton and Edna Gertrude West, and two brothers, all deceased, Carl E. West (Hella) of Helena and James W. West of Leeds, and one great grandson, Harrison R. Page, twin brother of Hayden Page of Eva.
She is survived by four children, Maurice Gerard Cromer (Mary) of Talladega, Janet Marie Cromer of Moody, Cynthia Anne Luna of Pell City and Karen Elaine Isbell (Glenn) of Odenville; six grandchildren, Audra Jane Cummings (Bob) of Birmingham, Jennifer Elaine Forman (JJ) of Odenville, Amanda Leigh Page (Jason) of Eva, Jacqueline Louise Klis, Anthony Luna (Liz) and Alexander Luna of Pell City; and eight great grandchildren, Josie and Tripp Forman, Chloe Cummings, Jackson and Hayden Page, T.J. and Erek Klis, and Aiden Luna, and a brother, Donald P. West (Jean) of Daphne and a number of nieces and nephews.
Graveside services will be held at the Historic Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Leeds on April 20, 2013, officiated by the Rev. James Blair and Kilgore Funeral Home of Leeds directing.
Marie was recognized as a community leader and awarded a plaque by the Leeds Martin Luther Commemorative Breakfast Committee. She was twice nominated for the Leeds Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year for her work on behalf of her hometown. She served on a number of community and civic organizations.
In 1998, Marie organized the Leeds Historical Society and served two years as its first president. She led the group of historical society volunteers and others in a number of major projects funded by grants she secured for the organization. Beginning with the research, naming and marking of the Historic Stagecoach Route through Leeds that later became an Alabama Scenic Byway followed by restoration and furnishing of the historic Rowan House. She worked with a group of volunteers in improvements at the Historic Leeds Depot and served as chairman of a landscaping committee for the grounds. She secured two state historic markers for the site, one for the depot and for the grounds in honor of the railroad steel-driving icon John Henry. The landscaping project included a replica of the town well that once occupied the center of Historic Ninth Street near the depot.
She won approval from the Leeds Park and Recreation Board and the Leeds City Council in 1999 for a perpetual land lease on her plans and drawings for the development of a historical park on the SW side of the Little Cahaba River and Leeds Memorial park. The historical park includes a curved brick wall monument in honor of three Medal of Honor recipients from Leeds.
She formed an ad-hoc committee of historical society members and other volunteers to renovate and decorate the area at the Wright Community Center used for the Leeds City Council meetings. She worked with faculty advisor Maggie Shannon at Leeds High School to reactivate the 1948 membership schools O&S chapter in the International Society of High School Journalists and worked with Shannon and the students to restart the publication of the student newspaper, The Greenwave, after an absence of almost 50 years. She served as editor-in-chief in the schools student newspaper (1948-49). She began her career in journalism by reporting school news for the Leeds News in her junior year under publisher/editor Edmund Blair.
For most of her adult life Marie was involved in newspaper work. She covered three counties as a correspondent for the Birmingham Post-Herald and later for The Birmingham News, life style editor at the St. Clair News-Aegis, education editor at the Talladega Daily Home and worked as a freelance writer for a number of state and national publications.
Following her retirement, she became a part-time staff writer for the Leeds News and a contributing writer for the Daily Herald, a local internet magazine.
While attending Jacksonville State College (University), she served as front-page editor of the college newspaper and on the staff of the college yearbook. She was employed part time while in college in the advertising-layout department of the Gadsden Times. While living in New Orleans and Gulfport, MS she was a freelance writer and contributor to the Gulfport Herald and the Times Picayune.
In 1986, she became the published author of "Modern Indians of Alabama: Remnants of the Removal" that won an award in the non-fictional book category by the National Federation of Press Women, of which she was an active member and contributing writing for a number of years for the NFPW's magazine, Press Women.
She was adopted in the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama for her supportive reports and articles on the state-recognized Indian tribes and the organization of the state's first Indian Affairs Commission. She was given the Indian name "Talking Leaves," Sequoya's descriptive words for the white man's printed pages. The adoption ceremony was the first in the state since Indian Removal on the Trail of Tears in the 1830's.
In 2008, she wrote an outdoor historical play, Listen to that Cold Steel Ring, to call attention to and honor the legendary railroad tunnels in the Dunnavant community. The play was presented as part of the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival for five consecutive years.
Marie was a member of Leeds First Baptist Church and a founding member of the Ashley Manor II weekly Bible study and devotional group and taught the class for several years.
In lieu of flowers the family is suggesting memorial gifts be made in Marie's memory for Rowan Oaks to the Leeds Historical Society, PO Box 465, Leeds, AL 35094, or to Carpenters for Christ, Leeds First Baptist Church, 7481 Parkway Drive, Leeds, AL 35094.
Visit online at www.kilgroefuneralhome.com
Kilgroe Funeral Home, Leeds directing.