Alma Ruth Hagaman Marsh

Family, friends, and community who were blessed to know Alma Ruth Hagaman Marsh (known by family members as Nana), would agree in describing her as a woman of grace, southern charm, and having a bold faith that served this community for over 70 years.

Having grown up in Watauga County, and raising her family here, she endured many of the last century's historical moments. She was never one to sit on the sidelines; noshe gave, and served everyone she met.

Alma Ruth Hagaman was born July 14, 1926 in the Forest Grove Community of Watauga County, N.C., to Roy and Rosa Hagaman. She was the youngest of two children (her brother Rex preceding her in death). Her family ran the first boarding house in Boone. Her employment prior to having children included; Five and Dime, Belk (during WWII, rationing hosiery), and Watauga Agriculture Center before becoming a full-time mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

She was married for 69 years to the love of her life, James Perry Marsh, who preceded her in death. Their love story began with shooting marbles and going on ice cream dates, and attending Shirley Temple movies at the Old Appalachian Theatre after saving up their 10 cents admission price, and popping their own corn. They traded homework when they both attended Appalachian High School. Ironically, Alma Ruth was the math whiz, and James had a way with words. Their love story survived the entirety of World War II, and they were married just one week after his return from the war. They went on to have four beloved boys, Jim, Randy, Lesley, and son, Ronnie, who all grew up with the same enduring values that they instilled in them. The definition of Family was her strongest support system through all life ventures, accomplishments, and service.

Alma Ruth's service extended to surrounding counties, and across the world. Her notable contributions of service include, but are not limited to; creation of first womens bible study in the community, advocating for equal rights, running the children's nursery at First Baptist Church for 20+ years, mentoring pastors wives, host of the first formal After Party for prom for Watauga High School, title of Watauga Tennis Mom toting around boys and other tennis players to all matches, and providing care packages for various assisted living facilities in the area when she was well into her eighties.

Alma Ruth and her beloved James were avid gardeners and were known all over town for their beautiful rose bushes at their home on Hardin Street, along with also providing family, friends and ASU students with homegrown apples, pears, blackberries and blueberries and grown vegetables at gardens spread throughout Watauga County. She and James also helped start World Medical Missions, which eventually merged with Samaritans Purse to provide a Biblical Witness to people all over the World.

In 2017, she was awarded with an honorary degree for opening her home to students attending Appalachian Teachers College (former name for Appalachian State University) in the early 1930s through 2000.

Of the notable attributes, her most distinguished award was serving as the matriarch of a family of 60 people. Her family includes son, James Jr. and wife, Margaret; granddaughters, Christy Turner and husband, Luke, Kim Stacey and husband, Matt, and grandson J.T.; son, Randy and wife, Lisa; grandsons, Justus and wife, Mindy, Caleb and wife, Jessica, Joshua and wife, Christy; granddaughters Moriah Barfield and husband, Joshua, Brittany Visser and husband, Forrest, and Lauren Miller and husband, R. J; son, Lesley and wife, Vickie; Casey Gragg and husband, Michael, Jennifer Klutz and husband, Jason, Jamie Baskett and husband, Dusty; son, Ronnie and wife, Denise; granddaughter, Andrea Marsh; and grandson, Taylor and wife, Celia. She is also survived by beloved family members, Elizabeth Minton (neice), and Gray Hagaman (nephew).

Of the family of 60, 30+ are great-grandchildren, Betsy Rose Marsh preceding her.

Family and friends will join to remember Alma Ruth on Sunday November 3, 2019 at First Baptist Church. The receiving of friends will be from 2-3pm. A celebration of life will be held at the Boone City Cemetery on Howards St. at 3pm.

The family would like to thank the nurses and staff at the Foley Center and Caldwell Hospice for their compassionate care.

In lieu of flowers, the Marsh family is requesting that donations be made to the organizations

Listed below:

Online condolences may be shared with the Marsh family at

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the Marsh family.

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