Alice Corcoran Yost

Alice Corcoran Yost, 81, (1932-2013), passed away on Christmas Day at Covenant Oaks Memory Care, Oakwood University Village. She was a good woman and she had a good life.

Alice was born, and lived her life, in Madison. Her parents, Richard Bernard and Marie Corcoran, raised Alice and her five siblings with a strong work ethic, a common decency and a sense of fun and responsibility in equal measure. Alice attended Shorewood Elementary and West High School. She met Harry Yost, her partner in life for fifty years, while working at the State Street Yost's Kessenich's. They eloped, in 1954, to Chicago's Chapel in the Sky. Harry died in 2004, three days after their fiftieth wedding anniversary. In their years together, Alice and Harry raised three children (and tolerated an untold number of pets, including a raccoon and a secretly kept hamster who died behind the living room curtain). Alice and Harry enjoyed, despite the children and animals, a vibrant social life and had many fun adventures together.

Alice married John Schwartz in 1996. John's steady heart and steadfast devotion to Alice made her last years happier. She adored him. 

Alice had a singular vitality that she directed toward all manner of clubs and projects, work and parties. She believed deeply that a person should be useful. She was for a long time actively involved with Maple Bluff Garden Club, Grace Episcopal Church's Rector's Guild, Attic Angels, Meals on Wheels, Olbrich Gardens and more. (She was an unlikely Girl Scout leader for a year, too.) Alice went back to work, in middle age, at Steven's House of Gifts on East Johnson Street. After, she gathered a few good friends to jump into business themselves, opening Guinevere's, a gift shop in the Camelot Shopping Mall on Fordem Avenue. She loved her gift shop in part because she loved pretty things and she loved people. 

Maybe more important than all her organized activities, Alice was known to bring homemade soup and chocolate chip cookies to sick friends and check in on elderly neighbors. She could be counted on to extend a helping hand whenever she sensed a need. 

Alice's favorite teacher was Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky of Temple Beth El. We still have the copious notes she made from his lectures and remember her often quoting him. He provided her wisdom and strength.

Alice will be remembered for her uncommonly blue eyes and her love of gardens and flowers. (Perhaps the only crime she committed, and committed repeatedly, was filching flowers from neighbors' gardens at odd hours. It's true that she prowled back yards with a scissors in hand. And no, she's not sorry.)

Certain folks of a certain age will remember Alice and Harry's wonderful dinner parties. Alice excelled at bringing people and food and drink and conversation together for a memorable evening. (And you should have seen, in the summer, the flower arrangements!) All of Alice's nieces and nephews preferred the family Christmas celebrations to be at her house. She made the holiday magical.

Alice will also be remembered for her joyful spirit, her lack of pretension, her love of the sun, her twinkle and charisma, and her beauty. She was beautiful, even at the end.

Alice's family salutes the staff of Oakwood Covenant Oaks Memory Care, Agrace Hospice, her faithful friend Gail Cody, her Madison siblings Dorothy and Jim, and her husband John Schwartz's family.

Alice is preceded in death by her parents, a brother, Richard B. Corcoran Jr., a sister, Dolores Klinefelter, and her dear husband, Harry. She is survived by her husband, John Schwartz; her favorite son, Thomas Allen Yost; her daughters Barbara Yost (David) Williams, Suzanne Marie (Aaron) Gotham and a step daughter, Jane Yost Rotruck. She is further survived by her sisters Dorothy Houden and Rose Bergenske and her brother Jim (Marcia) Corcoran. Alice left an indelible impression on her granddaughters Kristina Corcoran and Elizabeth Yost Williams and her grandsons Tyler and Patrick Gotham. Alice has a toddler great-grandson, Lachlan Yost Koechley-Williams, who is sure to hear stories of Great Grandma Alice as he grows.

Alice often joked that she would like her obituary to read, "in lieu of donating to a charity, send me flowers". But we think she would wish for donations to be made in her memory to the Oakwood Foundation, Oakwood University Woods, 6205 Mineral Point Road, Madison 53705. She would want to support the devoted floor staff who tended tenderly, day after day, to Alice's and so many others' needs, when at their most needy. And it is true, she would also like to leave behind better gardens for memory care patients. Donations in Alice's memory will be directed to a staff education fund and a butterfly garden at Covenant Memory Care.

A celebration of Alice's life will be held at Oakwood's University Woods Chapel on Mineral Point Road at 11:00 on Monday, December 30.

Alice's light shone bright, and we are grateful she shined on us.

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