Alma Harper

Alma June Crain Harper, 99, passed away peacefully in the Crain family home surrounded by her loved ones at 1:55 a.m. on Thurdsay, Mar. 12, 2020.

She was the youngest child of Duncan Russell Crain and Eugenia Sweeney Crain, born in Grand Chenier on May 29, 1920, adding another chapter to the Cameron pioneer families of (Martin Crain-Mary Ann Smith and George Carter Columbus Sweeney-Aurelia Miller). Martin Crain homesteaded Little Pecan Island in Civil War times and Mary Ann’s brother P.E. Smith came to Cameron Parish as a government surveyor. Aurelia’s dad was Pierre Valcour Miller.

Duncan Russell’s first wife Adelaide Theriot died in childbirth having her daughter Mary. After a few years he married Eugenia, who patiently became a caring mother to twelve. As the younger sister of John Paul and Ned Watkins, June was the special pet of all her brothers and sisters, and her mom called her Junie. She was raised on Little Pecan Island and attended a one-room school there, taught by her future sister-in-law Ella Mae Jones (A. H. “Sono” Crain). Her fondest memories include wandering in the large orange orchard and filling her pockets with sweet satsumas. In her teens her family moved to Grand Chenier and she graduated from Grand Chenier High School.

When the war came to Cameron Parish, a Coast Guard unit was stationed in Oak Grove to protect the Gulf Coast from German submarines and rescue downed pilots. Attached to that unit was a young man from Rome, Ga. named Alonzo Harper who soon won her heart. They married and made their home on Miller Avenue. After the devastation of Hurricane Audrey, she began taking care of her “kinfolks” and neighbors at the newly constructed South Cameron Memorial Hospital as an Emergency Medical Technician and Nurse’s aide. With a caring heart, she was always there with a helping hand or to offer a few words in French to comfort patients. Many families fondly remember Ms. June, who retired from the hospital shortly after her husband’s death.

She was an active member of Grand Chenier Methodist Church and especially active in the Vacation Bible School and celebration of Easter egg hunts.

June was the past Worthy Matron and a charter member of the Thelma Hackett Eastern Star Chapter and enjoyed the companionship of her fellow sisters as long as she was physically able. There was an Eastern Star memorial service following her religious services in the Grand Chenier Methodist Church.

Her loving home was always open to friends and family, and her table always welcomed anyone to her wonderful cooking and baking. She even shared some special secrets with some McNeese Leisure Learning classes and Fur Festival cookbooks. Next to her home, she tended a large garden with many vegetables that she was careful to preserve by canning and freezing. There were also many fruit trees of which she took very good care. She had a special gift for growing flowers which she willingly shared.

All of her nieces and nephews enjoyed visiting Aunt June and helping her hunt for turtles, or other special adventures in her kitchen or outdoors. However, they soon learned she could question them as well as any prosecutor. To their surprise (and sometimes chagrin), she also knew exactly how they were related to everyone else in the community.

Grandma June loved reading, as well as watching her grandchildren’s ball games, reading them many stories and taking them on arrowhead and petrified wood hunts at the Toledo Bend camp. As they grew old enough to go fishing, she helped them clean and cook their catch.

Left to cherish her memory are her sons, Lonnie Glenn (Carolyn Jacob) and John Michael (Ellen Broussard); as well as four grandchildren; Daniel Ned (Michelle), Leonard Paul (Shannon), Aaron Pierce (Kelli), and Jennifer Eugenia (Scott Smolcich); 10 great-grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces; as well as great-nephews and great-nieces.

June was preceded in death by her parents, Duncan Russell and Eugenia Sweeney Crain; her husband, Alonzo P. Harper; and all of her brothers and sisters.

The family would like to express their sincere appreciation for the caring support of Hearts of Hospice as well as the many sitters who have helped care for her over the past few years. A special thank you to her recent sitters for their loving care: Orelia Abshire, Chasity Boudreaux, Trudy Broussard, Missy Dupont, Haleigh Logue, Tressa Logue and Nancy Trahan.

The family welcomed friends at Grand Chenier United Methodist Church at 2873 Grand Chenier Hwy. Grand Chenier on Saturday, Mar. 14, beginning at 8 a.m. with a memorial service following at 10 a.m. Interment immediately followed at McCall Cemetery in Grand Chenier under the direction of Hixson Funeral Home in Lake Charles.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Harper family.

(Paid Memorial)