Alma Marie (Cole) Gray
Alma Gray was born in New Brunswick July 14, 1918 with a twin sister named Edna May. As babies, the girls were nicknamed Sunshine and Dewdrops by their parents. Edna May was Sunshine, while Alma was Dewdrops because she would cry so much. When the two girls were only six months old, their parents, Elijah and Ethel Cole, moved them out to Alberta with their older sister Beryl. Sadly, after 10 months Edna May passed away. Tragedy would strike the Cole family again as Elijah passed away when Alma was only four years old.
In Alberta, Alma received her education, and began working soon after. Alma was transferred to the town of Millet for work, where a young farmer soon caught her eye: William James Gray, better known as Jim. On November 18 1941 Alma Cole became Alma Gray, and the two went on to build their lives together.
Jim and Alma lived at the Gray homestead for a year after they were married, then moved out to Bluffton for three years during the Second World War. They then took over Jim Gray’s father’s dairy farm, where they remained for seventeen years. It was here that they raised their four children: Sharon Dawn, Brian Dale, Neil Leonard, and Judy Marie.
In 1956, Alma received her first driver’s license, at the cost of $1.00, and loved to use it to help other people. Alma would drive others without licenses of their own to see the doctor and attend appointments. Even as Alma got older, her generous spirit never gave up, and she provided this service she until she could no longer drive herself.
While taking care of her family and running the farm, Alma continued to be an active part of Millet, joining many different community groups. For a time, however, Alma stepped back from her volunteer work to focus on her family and livelihood. Her philanthropic spirit prevailed, and eventually Alma resumed her community efforts, especially with the Millet Women’s Institute. The Women’s Institute is a group predominately found in rural environments which is dedicated to domestic life and community improvement. The specific group Alma joined was the Tellim Women’s Institute (Tellim is Millet spelled backwards). The group was founded in 1977 and was present in many different town projects, events, and charities. Every year, the Women’s Institute presented scholarships to the male and female with the highest averages in the grade 9 class. During Millet Days, the Tellim Group would showcase their very own float. The Institute also spearheaded the building of John A. Smith Manor, a senior’s home in Millet which is still operating to this day. The group donated to many hospital-related organizations and the Camrose women’s shelter. The group even formed the Women’s Institute Girl’s Club for younger members, which Alma helped run. In recognition of her hard work, Alma was named Vice-President of Tellim Women’s Institute in 1978 and President in 1981. Though Tellim Women’s Institute disbanded in 1997, much of the work they accomplished lives on.
Alma held several jobs throughout the town over the years. She worked at the family-run grocery store in Millet for a period of time, and later at the Millet Post office. She worked at the post office for 6 years, from 1977 to 1983. When Alma retired, the post office gifted her a commemorative engraved silver platter in honor of her hard work.
Passionate about crafting, Alma Gray also helped to form the Millet Arts and Crafts guild in 1980. Alma remained a member of the guild until 1997, working with both the phone committee and nominating committee. During her days as a member, she would not only make crafts herself, but had the patience to teach others.
Alma Marie Gray passed away in 2001.