Pioneer Potluck: The end of an era

Pioneer Potluck: The end of an era

  • By Ann "Grannie Annie" Berg
  • Tuesday, February 3, 2015 4:25pm
  • LifeFood

Alma Arlene Webb 1917-2015

Beverly, Kansas
and Sterling, Alaska


The end of an era closed a chapter of our family history book.

After 97 years on this earth Aunt Alma Webb went to “see Jesus” at 3 a.m. Sunday morning, Feb. 1, 2015. She often said she wanted to see Jesus … so now she has her wish. She was the youngest sister of our Dad, John McClure, thus the closing chapter of relatives in our family that lived from 1917 to present.

I had the privilege of getting to know Aunt Alma all over again when she moved to Alaska to be with her son, Hall, his daughter, Billie Anne and Billie Anne’s four children — Alma’s great-great-grandkids, of whom she had many. She could tell you the month, day and year they were all born and where. She lost track the last two years, but at times she would proudly tell you how many grands, great-grands, and great-great-grandkids she had. She would add and “some great, great, greats I do not know about.” She always wanted to be kept in the family “loop” and talked of times when she grew up in Kansas. How she loved high school and that John, our Dad, was her protector in school if she was being teased because of her red hair.

Growing up in the 1920s and 30s was a way of life most of us have never experienced.. It was hard work to make a living and put food on the table. The transportation in the old cars. Seeing old cars develop into the fancy cars of today. Seeing the old coal burning railroad trains chugging down the tracks and how they whizz by today. Seeing an airplane in the sky! And seeing the space shuttles! Seeing modern medicine of today. And a telephone, a television, a microwave and computers, of which she tried to master. She also was a great piano player and played Hymns on a electric piano in her 90’s, like she was playing them in Church.

We had lively discussions and some were real history lessons for me. She was born in 1917 in Kansas and lived under standards that none of us can comprehend today. She talked a lot about poverty and being very poor, after she was married. One of her statements that she repeated often was there were times when she did not have a penny for penny candy for her little sons. She was very protective and proud of her 5 sons. She also proudly helped raise and loved dearly, many of her grandkids.

She rose through all of that to get her GED after they moved to Colorado, while she was working at Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an accountant, one of her proudest moments in her life. She had her name plate displayed at all times in her little house in Sterling, Alaska.

She loved the Bible and could tell you almost any verse you wanted to hear. She had many fears and haunting ghosts of the past, but her mind was clear and precise — no one every changed her mind! You knew when she did not approve and you also knew when she loved you, whether it was your hair, your clothes or the company you kept.

Alma was a great cook. She wanted to be included in picnics and holidays and often brought her deviled eggs and a great cake everyone loved with marshmallows on top. She cooked her meals up until this December when she transferred to Riverside Assisted Living. She fell shortly after that and never really got to appreciate that fine living facility. She spent two weeks in the hospital before she went to “see Jesus.”

Now she has her last wish — setting up there with Jesus, no doubt telling him all about her long journey on earth.

Yes, it was a long one, she has paved the trail for others that will follow.

— Ann McClure Berg, Alma Webb’s niece, North Nikiski


Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg is a 44-year resident of Alaska. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook. Grannie Annie can be reached at

More in Life

These festive gingerbread cookies are topped with royal icing and sprinkles. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Rolling out the gingerbread

With Christmas around the corner, it’s time for the holiday classic

Paper chains made of gratitude strips adorn a Christmas tree at Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna. (Photo courtesy Meredith Harber)
Minister’s Message: Grateful and kind

What if, instead of gathering around tables and talking about what has already happened TO us, we challenge ourselves to return kindness to the world around us

Roasted broccoli Caesar salad provides some much-needed greens and fiber to balance out the rolls and gravy. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A toasty, warm salad for a cozy Thanksgiving

This warm side dish provides some much-needed greens and fiber to balance out the rolls and gravy

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Some things never change. Nor should they

In the dawdling days prior to Thanksgiving, things are usually as serene as a gentle snowfall within our modest piece of nirvana

This photo from the early 1960s shows Jackson Ball enjoying the Christmas holidays with his eldest three daughters. His fourth and youngest daughter was born less than a year and a half before Ball’s death in 1968. (Photo from Ball Family memorial slideshow, 2022)
Human Complexity: The Story of Jackson Ball — Part 3

Misfortune was written across the recent history of the Arlon Elwood “Jackson” Ball family

Minister’s Message: Reflect upon our daily joys and blessings this Thanksgiving

There is nothing like missing something like your health to make you grateful for having good health.

Marvel Studios
On the Screen: ‘Marvels’ messy but very fun

Where the film shines is in the stellar performances of its three leads

Forever Dance performs “Snow” during “Forever Christmas 2022.” (Photo courtesy Forever Dance)
Forever Dance ushers in Christmas season with annual variety show

“Forever Christmas” will bring the sounds and movements of the season to the Kenai Central High School auditorium

These snowballs are made of chocolate cupcakes are surrounded with sugary meringue and coconut flakes. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Snowballs for a snow day

Winter-themed cupcakes celebrate a day at home

Minister’s Message: God’s selfie

I can think of no one word that encapsulates our age, that defines our collective priorities and focus better than that innocuous little term

This is an early photo of U.S. Army soldier Arlon Elwood “Jackson” Ball in uniform. The patches, ribbons and medals on this uniform demonstrate that he had not yet served overseas or been involved in any combat. (Photo from Ball Family memorial slideshow, 2022)
Human Complexity: The Story of Jackson Ball — Part 2

Perhaps going to Alaska was the fresh start he needed at this time in his life

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Noise

The first 10 years we were in Alaska we lived remotely