News & Stories

July 6, 2021

Cherished memories

Eloise Cooper Crowder (43C) can claim a rather special bragging right among Berry alumni: She knew Martha Berry personally.

Crowder – who celebrated her 100th birthday in November with help from a special recording by the Berry Singers – has a lot of life to look back on, including 72 years of marriage to the late Dr. Loy Crowder (42C); three children; 14 total grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and teaching school in New York, South America and Indonesia. But the time she spent with Miss Berry still shines brightly in her memory.

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“I loved Miss Berry very much,” she recalled in a tone rich with adoration even now.

Crowder came to Berry at 17, working in the girls school dining room before earning a place in the kitchen at Oak Hill, Martha Berry’s home. Being in such close proximity afforded her the opportunity to talk with Miss Berry every morning.

“She had a beautiful spirit and was a very loving, gracious person,” Crowder recalled. “She would talk with me about all kinds of things. I remember how she always wore a little bouquet of purple violets on her black velvet cape, and she had the most beautiful gray hair.”

Perhaps the memory that stands out most in Crowder’s mind is the morning Miss Berry left Oak Hill bound for a doctor’s visit in Atlanta.

“I remember hearing the hum of the elevator and her walking out of the house. We watched from the kitchen windows as she spent a few moments enjoying her garden before getting into the car. Little did we know it was the last time we would see her alive. I’ll never forget that.”

But Crowder has many happier memories too. Like the time Miss Berry was entertaining a special dinner guest and was so excited that she kept nervously patting the bell used to call the kitchen staff. And how much the Berry founder loved fresh churned butter.

There is, indeed, more than enough room in Crowder’s 100-year archive for memories of a woman she highly respected and loved. And she made clear: “I was privileged to know her.

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