Alice Harkless Cecil

Published 12:21 pm Wednesday, September 30, 2009

She will be remembered as an extraordinarily gracious, supportive, wise and loving woman, with multiple talents and interests and a wonderful sense of humor.

Born and reared in Kansas City, Missouri, Alice was the daughter of the late James Henry and Cyrene Shepard Harkless. She is survived by Charles, her husband of 65 years; her son, Charles H. Cecil of Florence, Italy; her daughter, Charlotte Cecil Raymond and her husband Alan Raymond of Marblehead, Mass., and three grandchildren, Alyssa Raymond, Christopher Raymond, and Charlotte Cecil.

Alice and Charles Cecil were married in 1944, while Charles served in the U.S. Navy.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

She was a graduate of the University of Missouri school of journalism in 1941, where she served as president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. As a long-time resident of Winnetka, Ill., she co-founded the Winnetka Children&squo;s Fair and was an active member of the Junior League, Planned Parenthood, and the Winnetka Congregational Church. Her various professional activities included work as a children&squo;s textbook editor, a reporter and feature writer, and substitute teacher.

In Tryon, where the Cecils built a home on Aurora Lane in 1988, Alice was a member and past president of the Tryon Garden Club. She co-developed a book about the wildflowers of Pearson&squo;s Falls that has been sold at the entrance gate for many years. She also enjoyed serving on the board of Lanier Library, as head of publicity for FENCE, and as a member of the World Affairs Forum, Tryon Antiques Club, and Tryon Presbyterian Church.

Alice had a lifelong passion for the fine arts. In every city in which she and her family lived, she volunteered for a variety of organizations with an eye toward advancing the arts. She served as a docent at the Nelson Art Gallery in Kansas City, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Minneapolis Art Museum. Alice collected rare books, antiques, and art, and was particularly interested in early illustrated children&squo;s books. She was responsible for editing a bibliography of early-American children&squo;s books for the American Antiquarian Society. Alice also instilled a love of art and literature in her children and grandchildren. Her son Charles is a painter and art historian who operates the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence, and her daughter Charlotte is a literary agent.

Memorials may be made to Tryon Presbyterian Church, Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, and Tryon Fine Arts Center.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, 2009, at Tryon Presbyterian Church.

An online guest register may be signed at

McFarland Funeral Chapel, Tryon.