Judson College mourns death of former first lady

KittyMcCrummenThe Judson Community is saddened by the passing of our dear friend and former first lady of Judson, Emma Lee “Kitty” Smalley McCrummen. A graveside service will be held in Montgomery at Greenwood Cemetery on Saturday, February 27 at 11:00 a.m.

UPDATE (March 3, 2016) – Read the eulogy for Mrs. McCrummen, given by her son Norman H. McCrummen, III, on February 27.

“Kitty McCrummen was a bright light in the life of Judson College,” said Judson President David Potts of the wife of his late predecessor, N.H. McCrummen. “As the First Lady of the college from 1970-1990, she deeply loved the students, faculty, staff, alumnae, trustees, and all who were friends of Christian higher education for women.The beauty of her music, the warmth of her welcome, the boundless energy, and her devotion to family were, and remain inspirational to, all of us. Her gifts of performance and teaching organ and piano readily blessed Judson College, Siloam Baptist Church, and a host of children of faculty and residents of the community who were taught by her. Kitty McCrummen was tireless in her efforts to beautify the Judson campus with her flowers and shrubs. The flowering cherry trees and azaleas of this Spring will testify to her devotion. Much like Paul in his letter to the Philippians, we thank our God for every remembrance of her! While we are deeply saddened by our earthly loss, we are keenly mindful and celebrate her homecoming. We grieve with the McCrummen family and express our love and support for them.”

Elizabeth Holland Hutchins, president of the Judson College Alumnae Association and attorney at Sirote & Permutt in Birmingham, was a student at Judson during the McCrummens’ tenure. “Those alumnae who were fortunate enough to be students while Dr. and Mrs. McCrummen were president and first lady of Judson remember Mrs. McCrummen with great fondness,” Hutchins said. “She was a perfect example of the qualities Judson women wanted to attain – grace, poise, kindness and enthusiastic involvement in the community and the College.  We remember how she could crank up the organ like no one else when she played for chapel or for the singing of the Alma Mater, and we also remember her being around campus in her gardening gloves, making sure that the campus and the grounds of the President’s home always looked their best.  She was a marvelous hostess and spokesperson for the College as well.  After she and Dr. McCrummen left Judson, she remained a strong supporter of the College, and we could always depend on her to attend alumnae events when she was able to do so.  She will be greatly missed.”

Mrs. McCrummen’s obituary below appeared in the Mobile Press-Register on February 24, 2016.

Emma Lee “Kitty” Smalley McCrummen
December 17, 1921 – February 23, 2016
Emma Lee “Kitty” Smalley McCrummen, 94, died on February 23, 2016 in Mobile, AL. She was born on December 17, 1921 in Ringling OK and reared on the V-8 Ranch, which was homesteaded by her paternal grandparents before Oklahoma was a state.

She was preceded in death by her father, John Finis Smalley, and her mother, Margaret Fagerquist Smalley (the daughter of Swedish immigrants); also by her first husband, Captain Warren G. Collins, who was killed in service in 1943; and her husband of 67 years, Dr. Norman Henry McCrummen, II; her son, Warren G. McCrummen; and her sister, Jurhee Katherine Smalley Foot. She is survived by her son, Norman Henry McCrummen, III (Nancy Rhodes); her daughter, Lynn McCrummen Johnson (C. Austin Johnson, Sr.); her grandchildren, Warren Scott McCrummen, Stephanie Lynn McCrummen, John Martin McCrummen, Emily Austin Johnson Baker, Charles Austin Johnson, Jr., and Margaret Ruth McCrummen Fowler; by a daughter-in-law, Catherine Martin McCrummen; her brother, Clem Edward Smalley; and their sister, Marjorie Smalley Collins.

Mrs. McCrummen, called “Kitty” by her family and friends, was valedictorian of her high school class and majored in music education in college. Her postgraduate study was in organ performance. She was a recitalist of both piano and organ. For 6 decades she taught piano, organ, voice, and Scripture; she directed choirs, plays and musicals. She resigned as a full-time organist at the age of 87. She was the past-president of the Montgomery Music Club. Kitty loved gardening, reading, needle-pointing and entertaining. She was vivacious, amusing, disciplined, impeccable in her dress, sometimes unpredictable and always energetic. She had a strong opinion on every subject and found no reason to withhold a thought on any subject, even those she knew little or nothing about. She took a bright light into every room she entered and made all her friends feel that each friend was her best and favorite; and each was. Whether directing a play, giving a recital, or entertaining 300 guests, she gave the whole of herself to ensure the delight of those present. With her three children she was strict; with her grandchildren there were virtually no rules or boundaries. Few grandmothers could tell a better story or provide more fun than Kitty; however, when her grandchildren grew up, there was never a doubt on their part what their grandmother thought they should do, or the direction they should go, for in giving advice she was neither reticent nor subtle.

The love of her life was her husband of almost 7 decades. They were opposites in personality but simpatico in everything else. For over 60 years they were the closest of partners in the churches they served. During their years in Marion, when Dr. McCrummen was President of Judson College, Kitty was the consummate hostess, a tireless worker on the campus grounds, a piano teacher, and a role model for the young on how to live beautifully and fully and in service to God. Her students adored her, and they, and all who knew her, will miss her.

A graveside service will be held in Montgomery, AL at Greenwood Cemetery on Saturday, February 27, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, one may wish to make a memorial donation to Judson College, 302 Bibb Street, Marion, AL 36756. Arrangements by Ascension Funerals & Cremations, 1016 Hillcrest Road, Mobile, AL.

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