New Turf Field to be Named in Honor of Holocaust Survivor

by Jennifer Conley

(June 12, 2008) The new synthetic turf field at Flint Park in Larchmont will be named for Alexander Alma, the deceased father of local resident and sports enthusiast Oliver Alma.

Alex Alma wanted to be an Air Force pilot during the war. When he came to America, he finally got his pilotís license.

When Alexander Alma passed away in 2006, Oliver began searching for a way to honor his father and pay tribute to his courage as a Holocaust survivor in Poland. Around the same time, the Village of Larchmont, Fields for Kids, and Westchester County began making plans for field improvements at Flint Park, located a few blocks from where Oliver Alma lives with his wife and three children. When Oliver heard that the project would need financial donations to become a reality, he knew he had found a way to memorialize his father. Many local residents gave money to the project at Flint, but the Almas took a significant leadership position in the fundraising campaign.

“My father struggled, sacrificed and survived in order to make things possible for my family. He passed along a powerful ideal about the importance of providing for the next generation. We saw this field as a way to do something positive for the next generation of our community,” said Oliver Alma.

Mr. Alma described his father as a kind and loving man who took nothing for granted and lived by the motto, “Everything in life happens for a reason.” As a 19-year-old Jewish student at a university in Poland, Alexander Alma jumped out of a school window and fled to the woods as the Nazis were arriving to occupy his town during World War II. Alexander’s father and many other relatives were arrested and killed in concentration camps. Alexander survived by his wits in the countryside, battling starvation and dysentery, doing hard labor on farms in Russia, and eventually hopping a train to Persia where he joined the British Army Corps of Engineers. At 6’1, he weighed 90 pounds. He shaved his head and burned his clothes and cried when he saw a clean towel.

Alexander Alma (front row, far right) with his British unit in the desert during WWII.

Eventually, after grueling years with the British forces in the Middle East and Italy, Alexander was overjoyed to discover that his mother and brother had survived the Holocaust as well. He found them in Romania; and when the war was over, they all moved to England together. Alexander moved with his wife to Canada in 1955 and to the United States shortly thereafter. They raised their family in Long Island, instilling the values of hard work, the importance of family and providing for the future. Alexander took pride in the many hobbies and interests of his kids, including sports. And he adored his grandchildren, many of whom will play on the field named in his honor.

Sharing her excitement about the new field, Larchmont mayor Liz Feld said, “We are so grateful to the Almas and the many other generous contributors to the park project. We look forward to making this incredible field available to the community soon.”

The Village of Larchmont’s recreation committee is currently working on policies to govern the use and scheduling of the new field. It is anticipated that the field will be used for boys’ and girls’ soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, football, baseball/softball, and recreational play. The official opening ceremony will take place in the early fall. At that time, a sign which reads “Alexander Alma Memorial Field” will be unveiled. And the County, Village of Larchmont, Town of Mamaroneck, Fields for Kids, and lots of local families will gather to celebrate. The full renovation of Flint Park will take longer, as the work in various areas is being done in phases.

Jennifer Conley volunteers with Fields for Kids.