Aletha Howell Barsanti was born September 27, 1920, in Corsicana, Texas, to Bert Francis Howell and Nellie Aletha Cobb. She was the youngest of three daughters and grew up in the far west Texas oil fields of Rankin, Texas. She graduated from Rankin High School and followed her older sisters to the University of Texas. While there, and working in her father's law office, she met a career officer of the United States Army and graduate of the University of Nevada. He was Olinto Mark Barsanti. They were married at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, October 22, 1942. He became a highly decorated combat veteran of World War II and Korea and was Commanding General of the vaunted 101st Airborne Division in Viet Nam. All the while, she was a superlative mother and Army wife, raising a daughter alone while her husband was in harm's way, and reveling in the opportunities that being posted in all parts of the USA, and indeed the world, offered.
Following the General's death in 1973, she lived briefly in Chicago, IL, and Vienna, VA. In the late '70s, she moved to Montgomery, AL, and was privileged to meet a charming widower, Colonel Lonnie Martin, USAF (Ret.). They were inseparable companions for the next twenty years, enjoying travel, the symphony, golf, each other, and retirement together. What a lovely couple they made.
Here she was also surrounded by a lovely group of younger women who included her in their bridge and social activities and were sure she was a part of the fabric of Montgomery goings-on. They made certain that she felt she had "always been a Montgomery native". Likewise, the retired military community embraced her and made her a part of all there was to offer.
She was a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Magna Carta Dames, and loved tracing her genealogical roots. She was an avid gardener, loved animals, and was an avid advocate of those less fortunate.
She is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Major General Olinto Mark Barsanti, an infant son, Joseph, her two sisters, Fleda Pedigo and Frances Brink, and the irrepressible companion, Colonel Lonnie Martin.
She is survived by her daughter, Bette Barsanti Sherman and son-in-law Bob, of Denton, Texas; granddaughter Jennifer Wilson, husband Brad, great-grandsons Tyler and Brady of Detroit, MI; grandson Dr. Jason Sherman, wife Dr. Laura Villamil, great-grandson Julian of Milwaukee, WI; extended family Jud and Pat Sherman of Denton, Texas, Ray and Rev. Elizabeth Jordan of Carlinville, IL; brother, William Paul Barsanti and niece Vivian, of Rome, Italy; sister-in-law Adele Barsanti, niece Linda Barsanti, nephews John Barsanti and wife Romy and Robert Barsanti, all of Reno, Nevada; niece Dr. Jeanne Greene and husband Craig of Athens, Georgia; nephew John Barsanti and wife Patricia, of Syracuse, NY; niece Becky Poldrack of Austin, Texas, nephew Donald Pedigo of Buda, Texas; Charlotte and Bay Haas of Mobile, Al, daughter and son-in-law of the dear Colonel Lonnie Martin, and of course, two beloved cats, Missy and Little Man.
A very special thanks:
To the incredible team of caregivers and extraordinary management of Kind Companions who provided loving and very personal care over the last five years. They labored tirelessly and joyfully at a truly daunting task.
To our dear Carmen Gallardo, and her entire family, who gave of herself, and made the time for "Miss Aletha" more joyous.
To Dr. Filippo Masciarelli, who left his office behind and was ever available to visit and care for her in her home, when her frailty would not allow her to make visits to his office. He was always available to provide counsel and advice to family.
To Geri Sams, whose wise counsel grounded us and focused our expectations.
To Betty Alford, who was there at the beginning and at the end. Bless you for all you did.
To Ardent Hospice, whose staff and experience gave us solace and guidance as Aletha's journey neared its conclusion and was there for the final chapter.
Visitation is Friday, July 18, 2014, at DeBerry Funeral Directors, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Burial is to be at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, DC.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, any contributions in Aletha's honor be to Denton Community Health Clinic, 525 South Locust, Denton, 76201; Denton Animal Shelter Foundation, PO Box 486, Denton, 76202; or a charity of your choice.