By Deanna Kirk
Corsicana Daily Sun
My first memory of Corsicana, Texas is playing in the yard at Oliver and Anne Albritton’s house on Mills Place.
Since I was only 6 or 7, I don’t remember the home from that trip, nor do I recall what month of the year it was. But it seems like that big yard with so many beautiful, old trees was a fun place for foot races with Mike, Julie and John Albritton for my sister Jennifer and me.
Oliver Albritton passed away this week. He was a good man. Had a smile always at the ready. Whenever I ran into him around town, he always had a hug for me.
Oliver is the reason my family came to Corsicana. Prior to him meeting my father, I doubt any of us had even heard the word.
In 1971 or 1972, (I can’t be sure which), Oliver was running the Trust Department at the old First National Bank on Main St. He located a young man, eager for a chance and with a desire to get out of the city and raise his daughters in a small town, at First National Dallas. Oliver and Gary Brown must have clicked, because not long after that Saturday on Mills Place we moved to Corsicana.
I spent a lot more time at that house once I became one of Anne’s piano students. Prior to her establishing a piano studio off-site, her house was Grand Central Station, with kids and piano students coming in and out, and seems like there were always Oreos.
Four generations of my family have called Corsicana home thus far, and I like to think my Dad made some positive differences in our fair city. None of that would’ve been possible had it not been for Oliver.
I read with interest some of the comments posted on Facebook in the hours after Oliver passed away. From Neely Owen Minchew reminiscing about how Oliver teased her about her big hair in the early 90s when they both worked at Bank One, to how she teased him about the food stains on his ties after lunch. There were comments from John’s friends about spending good times with “Big Ollie.”
Ellen Gober Walters, who lived next door to the Albrittons growing up, reflected over her good memories of fun times in their neighborhood, as Stacy Schwarts chimed in (who lived across the street).
One fellow who was a classmate of ours posted a picture of a note Oliver wrote him. Seems the young man had a falling out with his father while he was still in college, and needing funds, he went to Oliver for a loan. “Big Ollie” loaned him what he needed (which was more than he qualified to borrow), and attached the note to the receipt from his final repayment of his loan. The note said in part, “Tough times don’t last, but tough folks do.” He said he would never forget that kindness, and kept the note over 25 years because of the respect he had for Albritton.
It will probably never be known just how many lives the life of Oliver Albritton altered or touched. To his wife, Helen, and children, Mike, Julie, John and Ellen — I express my deep condolences. In the words of Barbara Moe, Oliver Albritton was indeed “bigger than life.”
Deanna Kirk is editor of Explore Magazine and a Daily Sun staff writer. Her column appears on Saturdays. She may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: email@example.com