BETHANY, W.Va. – Aleece Gresham, former first lady of Bethany College, passed away on May 1, 2006 at Pleasant View Retirement Community in Manheim, Pa. She was born Alice Mary Fickling in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Oct. 27, 1904.
Perry Epler Gresham, her husband of 41 years and long-time President of Bethany College, predeceased her in 1994. At that time they were living at Bermuda Village in Advance, N.C. She is survived by Nancy Wertz Sandercox, her daughter from her marriage with the late Carl Luther Wertz; a son-in-law, Robert A. Sandercox of Jacksonville, Fla.; three grandchildren, Alison Grace Sandercox of Lititz, Pa., Megan Louise Boyer of Union City, Calif., and, R. Philip Sandercox of Newtown, Conn. Also surviving her are eight great-grandchildren. A stepson, Dr. Glen E. Gresham and wife Phyllis, of Sanibel Island, Fla., and four Gresham grandchildren and five great-grandchildren also survive her. Her second husband, the late Clyde E. Cowan of Greensburg, Pa. died in 1950.
Her parents were Richard Thomas Fickling and Jesse Susan Nunn, both emigrants from England. Aleece was the youngest in a family of eight children. Her sister Clara, and brothers, Harold, Frank, Harry, Robert, Arthur and Ralph, all predeceased her.
Mrs. Gresham was a talented musician having organized an all-women’s orchestra in her early days in Pittsburgh. For many years she served as choir director at the Bethany Memorial Church in Bethany, where she also sponsored a bell choir. In Wheeling, as well as Advance, N.C., she organized and participated in “eight-hand” piano ensembles. Her entertaining frequently centered on her musical interests such as the annual Christmas Musicals that were her hallmark while first lady at Bethany College, and the annual Gresham anniversary parties that focused on a variety of musical presentations.
During her years in Bethany she was well known as a lecturer on a variety of subjects. Most Bethany College alumni remember her as one of the College’s special benefactors. In 1998 she gave the fountain and formal garden that bear her name that enhances the entry to Old Main, a National Historic Landmark. Some years before she had presented a Schulmerich Carillon to Bethany in honor of her husband’s presidency. Her gifts to the College included an elevator in Oglebay Hall and an information kiosk that was built in front of Cochran Hall. In keeping with her interest in music, she presented the College with a new Steinway concert grand piano upon the opening of the Steinman Hall of Fine Arts. More recently she gave a full-set of English hand bells to the music department.
She was a member of the Bethany Memorial Church. A memorial service followed by interment of the cremains will be scheduled at the convenience of the family. Memorial gifts may be sent to Bethany College, Bethany, West Virginia 26032, where a fund in her name is established.
Arrangements are being handled by:
Charles F Snyder Jr Funeral Home & Chapel Inc.
3110 Lititz Pike
Lancaster, PA 17601