Dedicated to the Memory of

Alley Patricia Thrift Blackford
She was our friend.  We'll miss her so.  - Tom Pierce
August 6, 1946 - September 21, 2005

background music "We'll Meet Again" sung by Vera Lynn during World War II

"We'll meet again, Don't know where, Don't know when, But I know We'll meet again Some sunny day.
Keep smiling through Just like you Always do Till the blue skies Drive the dark clouds Far away.
So will you please Say hello To the folks That I know Tell them, I won't be long.
They'll be happy to know That as you saw me go I was singing this song."

Alley Patricia Thrift Blackford died on September 21, 2005 in Oldsmar, Florida from breast cancer.

Alley was born on August 6, 1946 in Clermont, Florida. She was the daughter of the late Jackson Woodrow Thrift and Charlotte Gay Showers Thrift Watkins.

Alley was raised in Front Royal, VA. She attended Warren County High School and graduated from The Academy of Nail Art and Design in Largo, FL in 1990.

While residing in Mississippi, Alley was a Red Cross volunteer at Keesler AFB. Alley volunteered with the American Cancer Society in the Reach to Recovery program in 2003.

Alley was a member of the VA Genealogical Society, Rockingham County Historical Society, Berkeley County Historical Society, the Edinburgh Heritage Foundation and a lifetime member of Hottel-Keller Memorial, Inc.

Her most beloved husband, Michael Kaesche Blackford, survives Alley. They were married on June 17, 1991 in Palm Harbor, Florida. Michael is a member of Masonic Lodge and a member of the Egypt Shrine.

Alley is also survived by her two granddaughters, Ashley Eden Elm and Emily "Emma" Christine Elm, all of Oak Harbor, WA.; one brother, Kenneth Jackson Thrift of Narrows, VA; one sister, Lona Jessie Thrift Crosby of Axson, Georgia. A life-long friend, Lynnie Kenney Sager, also survives Alley.

Alley’s Maltese babies filled her life with love. Tinker Toy pre-deceased Alley in 2002. Surviving are Dr. J, Sadie, Eli and Mikey II.

Tributes to Alley Blackford were sent by members of her extended genealogy family who knew and loved her - we will miss her.

  • I only met her once myself, in the early years at a family reunion of hers in Woodstock. It really saddens me to think of all the e-mails she & I exchanged over the years, and she hardly mentioned her problem for a long time. She will be missed - Jim Artz

  • I met Alley a couple of times and she was wonderful - Bev

  • Alley Blackford was a kind, thoughtful, and a polite person. Many times she wrote me personally to thank me for the contributions I was making to the list and to encourage me in my effort to share with folks that did not have access to helpful resources - Chocy Brown

  • We will ALL miss Alley, there was not a time that you could not go to her for help if you were stuck - Margaret Davis

  • I never met Alley and emailed her a couple times ... her countless contributions to this game of genealogy will be sincerely missed - Nancy Donak

  • I never had the pleasure of meeting Alley. I thank her for starting the website which has helped thousands of people, including myself. She will be missed by all of us - Lois Emswiler

  • I knew her only through her email and gracious help with my families in Shenandoah County, but I feel I have lost a friend. I am sure she and Amy Gilreath are chatting over a cup of tea in Heaven and wishing us all well. Their genealogy mysteries are now all revealed to them as ours will be when we meet them there - Arlene Fultz

  • We shared so much family history and met in Edinburg in 2003 for a few days, meeting with other Dodson relatives and visiting the old home site. It was such a gift and blessing for me to be able to meet her - Betty Himes

  • I didn't know Alley. I met her at the Edinburg Library the year we had our first gathering, but she had to leave to go home and couldn't stay for the event. I liked her instantly - Jan Hood

    I never met Alley Blackford in person, but I really liked her. When I was floundering around as a rookie, trying to search for ancestors, she was so kind and patient. And as I was asking endless questions, she never seemed to run out of patience. I believe she was as eager to help me connect with my ancestors as if it were her own family. Her kindness was much appreciated by me. Her love of what she was doing was apparent. You cannot think of the Shenandoah website, without thinking of Alley. She will be missed - Carol Digby

    I miss Alley Blackford for a lot of reasons.

    My genealogical palm would start to itch whenever I would get an e-mail from Alley, saying "Can you help this person..." I expect lots of folks were on Alley's resource list, but I was always proud that she would think to ask me for help. Alley and I were not kin, but shared some family names by marriage, and we had our common interest in the Blackfords - she because of her husband, me because several of my ancestors were employed by the Blackfords. Sometimes Alley and I would harrumph that the Blackfords - to whom we weren't kin - were so easy to research, and our actual kin were so difficult.

    Alley took a fairly ordinary web site and turned it into a gem, not so much by what she did, but by whom she recruited to help. Like many listers, I've participated in over a dozen lists, and have seen few with Shenandoah's content, and none with the presentation and ease-of-use. She somehow corralled Don to donate his superb wordsmithing and graphic skills, and she seldom missed the chance, when people were sharing data, to send an e-mail, saying "How about sharing that with everybody?" Most lists have a few contributors; Shenandoah has many.

    But the thing I'll miss most was her famously sharp tongue when someone got out of line or too full of themselves. I'd see a likely posting and go get my wife, saying "I bet this gets Alley's dander up". Alley, always a lady, would put us in our place (yep, I got on her wrong side too) and then forget it. Most often, she often would just send a little e-mail suggesting we move off the list for the rest of a discussion that came too close to breaking the net rules.

    Alley, I hope they saved you a microfilm reader near Amy. God bless you, and thanks for being part of our internet family. Tom Pierce

    Alley and I were good friends since 5th grade (long time, but not long enough :o). We kept in touch over the years, by snail mail, telephone, and more recently email, usually every day when her health allowed her to be at the computer. We also visited each other once or twice a year the last 10 or 12 years. A more loyal friend I could never ask for.

    Genealogy was Alley's "thing." I've never seen her so happy and animated as when she was working on genealogy. She put a lot of legwork, computer work and love into the VaShen website, and was rightfully very proud of it.

    She took such delight in "finding" a new ancestor, tracking one of those elusive souls who leave little in the way of a paper trail, or whose kids decide to change the spelling of their surname, etc., etc. Alley was so happy to share information; she was not one to "sit on" research because she had worked to uncover it and it was "hers."

    Alley had an upbeat, positive attitude toward life, even in the face of the horrid disease she battled the last 4 years.

    Her sense of humor was delightful & could be "naughty", even irreverent but never cruel or mean-spirited.

    Last September when Alley and her husband, Michael, stopped to visit in the area for several days, on their way back to FL from Maine, she gave me a little plaque which says "You will always be my best friend - You know too much." So typically "Alley."

    I miss opening my e-mail and not seeing a message from Alley. I miss not hearing the ups and downs of her life, news and pictures of her beloved granddaughters and her 4 Maltese dogs, who were her "babies." Lynnie Sager

    When I first "met" Alley Blackford about 1996 or 1997, we were both asking a lot of questions and I thought (selfishly and conceitedly) that I knew much more than she did.

    It didn't take long for me to realize that I was the one who had a lot to learn and she was just the person to teach me - whether I asked her to or not! I learned from Alley that information is worthless unless you share it with someone else. I learned that the only stupid questions are the ones you don't ask. Most importantly of all, I learned that a person doesn't have to have DNA in common with you to be a part of your family.

    In 2000 when Alley first began her long battle with cancer, I really didn't quite know how to continue our email correspondence and relationship, so I let her take the lead and followed. I played a supporting role and continued to keep her informed about kids and Little League baseball and all the every day things that make life what it is. She later told me how much she appreciated my doing that instead of "how are you doing" and "you'll make it" etc. Should I ever be in the situation Alley was in for the last four years, I hope that I can show even half the courage she showed in her fight against cancer.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Alley and her friend Lynnie in 1997 at the Handley Library on a rainy, cloudy fall Saturday. I will never forget that day - not because she is no longer with us, but because even then, I knew she was special.

    I have thousands and thousands of emails that I received from Alley in the nine years or so that we corresponded. They range from supportive to scolding to praise, from G ratings to R ratings, from comedy to tragedy. One of the greatest honors of my "professional" life was when Alley asked me to become the co-coordinator of the Shenandoah County GenWeb site. By "professional" I mean it is a use of my professional abilities, but I don't get paid for it - not monetarily. The payment I do get (and this is another thing I learned from Alley) is the thanks that comes from our visitors and members - and the crowds we have at Shenandoah County Heritage Day.

    Even though Alley never attended one, she is responsible for the existence of Heritage Day. She organized the first meeting and got a group of us together face to face for the first time. I made quite a few friends that day that I am honored to call my friends.

    Alley Blackford was my friend. I love her like she was a member of my family - between us we're probably related to more than 75% of the population of Shenandoah County over the last 200 years, but not to each other.

    Of all the women I have met in my life, other than my wife and my mother, among the few that I respect head and shoulders above all others is Alley Blackford. Every time I sit down at a microfilm reader, I'll think of Alley, and every time I click on send/receive in my email program, I'll think of Alley and how many thousands of times her name appeared in my IN-BOX. I'll miss that, in fact, I already miss that.

    If you never met Alley, you missed out, but her legacy is and will continue to be evident in Shenandoah County genealogical research.

    I hope you've taken the time to read this, if not, no problem, but you should know that genealogical research in Shenandoah County is much much easier because of the efforts of a lot of people - and very high on that list of people is my friend, Alley Blackford.

    I'll miss seeing her name in my in-box more than I can say. Don Silvius