The white house sits off Veterans Memorial Boulevard firmly in the grip of downtown Cumming’s busyness, but when Alice Mashburn moved there in 1947 with her husband, Marcus Jr., it was considered out of town. Marcus Jr. was the rural community’s doctor, and their home was on farmland. They cultivated orchards of apple, peach and pecan trees. They had chickens and sheep. They gigged for frogs in their small pond and made frog legs for breakfast.
For more than half a century, Alice and her husband lived there while Cumming grew up around them on all sides, and they played an influential role. In addition to his practice, Marcus Jr. was a longtime community leader. He helped open the city’s first hospital, served on the county’s boards of education and health, founded the Cumming Housing Authority and was even mayor for a time.
Alice was “daddy’s partner,” said Catherine Amos, one of the Mashburn’s six children, but she was a prominent member of the community in her own right who championed Cumming and Forsyth County’s growth.
Alice died Sept. 22 at 101 years old.
“She was very proud of Cumming,” said daughter Martha Lappe.
An only child, Alice was born on a Native American reservation in Arizona and grew up in Iowa and Nebraska. Alice studied French in college. During World War II, she joined the American Red Cross and trained as a hospital recreation worker. While stationed at McCloskey Army Hospital in Texas, she met Marcus Jr., who was there training for deployment. They married after the war and moved to Cumming in 1947.
Marcus Jr. began establishing his rural practice, and Alice was often at his side when he made house calls on weekends. But as their family grew, Alice’s life mostly focused around their children, Amos said.
“She really welcomed the changes and welcomed new people. She was warm and engaging and always put people at ease.”Martha Lappe, daughter of Alice Mashburn
“She had six kids in a span of 10 years,” Amos said. “... We were all very active in things,” and so Alice was active too. She was a member of the PTA at Cumming Elementary School and “took a big interest in our school and what we were doing in school,” Amos said.
But Alice embedded herself in the community in other ways.
She was a member of Cumming First United Methodist Church. She loved to read, Amos said, and was a longtime member of the Forsyth County Library Board. She was a regular customer at Humpus Bumpus, a former bookstore in Cumming, and “if mother wanted a book, then they would order several copies because they knew it was going to be a good book,” Amos said. She joined the local garden club but eventually left; it took too much time away from tending her garden filled with roses and daylilies.
“Her roses were wonderful,” Lappe said.
Alice was also an avid bridge player, and it was in those games where she often formed friendships with new residents as Cumming and Forsyth County became one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.
“She really welcomed the changes and welcomed new people,” Lappe said. “… She was warm and engaging and always put people at ease.”
Amos added: “She thought it was great when people started moving in from different places.”
While Alice and Marcus Jr. became experienced travelers – they were one of the first visitors to Egypt when the African country eased visa restrictions for European and North American countries in the mid-1970s, Amos said – they stayed in their old white home on Veterans Memorial Boulevard, even after Marcus Jr. died in 1998.
Alice lived on another 21 years. She had just moved out of the only place she’d called home in Cumming this past May, Amos said.
Now, the property is currently under contract with a developer who wants to build a mixed-use development with apartments, townhomes, single-family homes, retail and office space, a parking deck and self-storage facility.
It would be called the Mashburn Village.
“She just lived a full, happy life,” Amos said.