Alice García Ponton Dillree – beloved mother, sister, aunt, and great-aunt – entered eternal life on July 6, 2019. Until she retired in 1986, Alice served for nearly 20 years as Administrative Assistant to the Librarian at the Cadet Library of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She began her career at West Point in the early 1960s, working in security.
Born on September 1, 1920, in Tampa, Florida, to Florencio García Vega and Eulalia Prieto, Alice (anglicized from “Alicia”) was the second of three children. Her parents, who had emigrated from the northern province of Asturias, Spain, worked in Tampa’s prominent cigar-making trade and ran a small grocery store out of the front of their house. In 1931, when Alice was 11 years old, the family moved back to Spain. They remained for nearly two years, returning in 1933 before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
Five years later, the family moved from Florida to Plattekill, New York, where they assumed ownership of Villa Rodríguez. The Villa was among the first of several farms in the area that offered meals and overnight accommodations to largely Spanish-speaking families from New York City who came out during the summer to enjoy the country, seeking fresh air and home-cooked meals. Alice worked at the Villa for the next 20 years, taking part in an historic cultural phenomenon, long before B&Bs, of offering a family-centered place of hospitality for Hispanics, largely from Spain, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Her mother sold the Villa in 1956, a few months after her father died.
In 1948, Alice married Angel C. Ponton, with whom she had two children, Jean Alice Ponton and James Daniel Ponton. The couple divorced in 1963. Alice went on to enjoy a successful career at West Point; her children pursued higher education with Jean earning a PhD in History from Catholic University of America and James an MS in Geology from Texas A&M.
On September 19, 1987, Alice married Herbert J. Dillree, a retired Master Sergeant who worked as a civilian at West Point for more than 20 years. They lived happily in Highland Falls, N.Y., until his death in 1996. In 2006, Alice moved to Glen Arden Retirement Community in Goshen, N.Y., where she lived until her death.
Alice is predeceased by her parents, siblings, and husband Herbert. She is survived by her daughter Jean and son James (Hank Lauf); sister-in-law Wilma Forsell García; nieces Elise D. García, OP, Claudia J. Kieffer (Philip), Leslie García (Frank Hudson), and nephews Joseph A. Patiño (Joan), Richard F. García (Lori), and Daniel F. García (Tammy Hancock); as well as loving grand and great-grand nieces and nephews.
Alice will be buried at West Point in a private ceremony at the end of August 2019, with her husband Herbert. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, PO Box 50, Memphis, TN 38101-9929
Alice’s family extends warm gratitude and appreciation to the nursing staff at Glen Arden Health Center who provided wonderful care during her final years.
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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105