A Few Memories of …

The Many-Splendored Alice Sedgwick 1912-2010

Brad Mersereau Remembers Alice:

My friend Alice Sedgwick taught me through music and deed that the best gift you can share in this life is your sacramental self!

Alice had been a family friend of many years. I knew her son Bruce. After my mother died, I went to see Alice and found her such a good listener. I was getting back into piano and so Alice and I thought it might a good idea if we played the piano together. In 1997, a year after her husband died, she decided that it would be appropriate for her to move to Terwilliger Plaza. We played two pianos together here: Bach and Mozart, and then jazz and Broadway songs. After I purchased a synthesizer for the auditorium, we had an open rehearsal there for seven years. I so enjoyed spending time with her and expressing the joy of music with her in dialogue. Doing it musically with two instruments is different from speech, and it was fun to communicate with her in that way.

Alice fractured her hip in 2007, but that didn’t stop her musical career. She went to Robison’s to recover and insisted that I find out where the piano was, and in a week, not only had I found the piano, but I was playing the piano and she was singing! I’m convinced that she sang her way back to health. She was an entertainer and loved to perform. When she came back to her apartment, I played her piano and she would sing. I also prepared her lunch 6 days a week. I wanted her to have 1,000 calories a day so I’d fix a five- or six-hundred-calorie lunch. I just always enjoyed spending time with Alice. I liked listening to her. She was very wise. In January, 2009, she fractured her right hip, sang her way out of that, and then became a part of the Metcalf in the shadow of the ginkgo tree. We had our music and sing-alongs before lunch there. Her joy was consistent from 1992, when she first listened to me talking about my mother, through the year 2010. I experienced the thread of music and the thread of joy with Alice!

Betty Ashford Remembers Alice:

She wasn’t like the rest of the residents on our floor. She was always a performer. Maybe it was the way she talked. With a low, modulated voice, drawn-out a bit for more drama. Always friendly and present.

We were in plays in the early years of the Plaza Players. She was especially good at playing overly dramatic women, or empty-headed girls who asked stupid questions. But whatever her part, Alice the actress was always very visible. There came a time when she and I tried out for a play and neither of us got a part. She was deeply disappointed and she said to me in a whisper, covering her mouth, “Well! We’re the has-beens now! They’ll be picking younger, prettier women. We’re going to be left by the wayside!”

Alice had several ways of attracting friends and an audience. She sang, played the piano, and told wonderfully romantic true war stories that really happened to her. And yes, later she did get parts in plays again, and always applause — for an unforgettable lady. Alice Sedgwick! There was no one anywhere who was anything like Alice!

Alice and Brad

Alice Sedgwick, a family friend beyond dimension.

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