Sheila Alexander now lives in the Antiquity community in Cornelius. But she remembers living in Charlotte in the 1960s and spending much of her summer time on Lake Norman with her sisters, Nancy and Rose, and her parents, Jim and Marie.
“It was just campers and cabins on Lake Norman back then,” she said. “We’d all come up here from Charlotte with the members of the church we grew up in.
“We’d fish and ski and camp and have cookouts with members of our church and youth group.”
Marie Alexander loved Lake Norman so much that she devised a plan to live on the lake in Cornelius. Sheila explained:
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“In the 1970s, after her kids left home, mother went back to school, took elder care courses and did private duty sitting. She saved her money.
“When mother saw an ad in the paper for (Lake Norman) property, she decided she wanted to get out of Charlotte and bought the property herself with the money she made, without telling father,” sheila said.
To tell her family what she had done, Marie and Jim Alexander, along with Sheila, drove from Charlotte to Cornelius, supposedly to have dinner with friends. But they drove to the property instead.
Sheila explained what happened:
“Mother said to father, ‘Honey, I want to show you something.’ Father turned to me and said, ‘I bet Marie’s bought this place.’ It was a moment.
“They walked around the property, arm-in-arm,” Sheila said. “Father said, ‘Marie, this is the best thing you ever did.’ ”
Marie Alexander bought three lots. Sheila said, “When mother saw the ad, she thought, ‘Here’s three lots, and I have three daughters.’ ”
In 1979, Marie and Jim Alexander built their retirement home on one of the lots, off Bethel Church Road. “They spent their happiest years there,” Sheila said.
“After our parents built there, our sister Rose built the cutest little house on Lake Norman to live nearby and help take care of them,” she said.
“In the ’90s, father started declining, showing signs of Alzheimer’s. He was in his early 70s.”
Sheila was living in Florida. “I wanted to relocate back. I missed my family. My family needed me, and I needed them,” she said.
“Mother added on an apartment to their home for me to live in. I relocated back to Cornelius in 2002 to fully homecare father. We wanted to keep him home.”
Nancy and her husband had lived in South Charlotte, but by that time, they had moved to Mooresville.
“It was like once my parents built on the property, we all came back here,” Sheila said. “We all followed them because we all wanted to be together.”
Jim Alexander died in May 2003. Marie Alexander died in March 2008.
The property has since been sold, but Rose still lives in her house. Sheila said, “Some newlyweds bought the house, and we found out they’re pregnant. They’ve been good stewards of the property.”