Published: March 11, 2008
Alma Libby, longtime antiques dealer, died peacefully Wednesday, March 5, two weeks short of her 73rd birthday.
Born in Sanford, Maine, and a graduate of Sanford High School, Alma tried many career paths before discovering her passion for antiques and the antiques business. She entered the Faulkner Hospital School of Nursing in Boston on a scholarship but found that was not a good fit and joined the Women’s Army Corps. After that she attended the Chamberlain School of Retailing in Boston and worked as a buyer for Filene’s.
She also worked as a foreperson at Sylvania, as a custom kitchen cabinet designer and as a store detective, while completing her degree in business administration at the University of Lowell at night.
She discovered antiques at the old Faneuil Hall Flea Market in Boston. Known as an “old-time” dealer, she cut her teeth before sunup on Sunday mornings at the Amherst, N.H., and Norton, Mass., flea markets and was one of the first eight dealers to stay overnight on the field at Gordon Reid’s Antique Market, then a one-day market and the only market in Brimfield, Mass., at the time. She had a great eye, a zest for finding things she had not seen before, and the courage to risk herself, both with antiques and in her business ventures.
In 1982 she and her partner, Susan Fisher, bought the former Dalton Motel in Hampton, next door to Webber’s Antiques. Alma and Bobby Webber became great friends, and summer afternoons they could often be seen sitting together in the sun talking shop and enjoying “two-pounders.” In 1986 she moved back into antiques with the purchase of Antiques One in Hampton Falls, where she pioneered some of the standards for antique group shops which were then a new entity.
From 1998 to 2003 she ran the shop herself, specializing in antiquarian books and ephemera. Although complications of longstanding diabetes forced her to give up her shop, she never lost her interest in and enthusiasm for the merchandise or the business, maintaining spaces in several group shops.
She leaves her partner of 35 years, Susan Fisher, and several cousins, including Gerald Belisle and his family of Sanford, Maine, and many, many friends and colleagues whose lives she touched.
Instead of a formal service, friends are invited to gather to raise a glass and share reminiscences from 2 to 5 pm, Sunday, March 16, at her barn, now McInnis Oriental Rugs, 80 Lafayette Road (US Route 1), Hampton Falls. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the New Hampshire SPCA, PO Box 196, Stratham NH 03885.