Meta C. Little

October 13, 1925 - February 29, 2020

Wow, 94 years is a lot to celebrate!  Meta Little was an amazing and courageous woman in a time when women had limited opportunities to flourish.  Born on October 13th, 1925, Meta Johanna Craddock, grew up in the depression, this is reflected in how she lived her life, with not a moment wasted.   

She started traveling early in life on coal-fired trains to visit relatives in Virginia and across the US, always being mindful to avoid getting coal embers and ash in her hair.  As a teenager she tried secretarial school, but found it fell short of the life’s adventure she envisioned. It was the forties and she was told she could become a secretary, nurse or homemaker. With secretary and homemaker off the table she focused on nursing.  She started her career with a diploma in nursing from Lewis Gale Hospital in Salem, Va.  Although this was a great accomplishment, Meta wanted more out of life and her career.  Never shying away from a challenge, she took a job in Panama as an RN in order to save money for her RN to BSN degree.  She returned to the States and attended Simmons College of Nursing in Boston, Massachusetts graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Never settling and always looking for adventure, Meta toured the Northeast working as a nurse.  

Returning to Virginia, she found employment at the VA hospital in Salem where she met her future loving husband, Robert D. Little.  They were married in 1954 when Meta took a hiatus from nursing and travel to focus on motherhood and their three children, Bob, Jim and Marta.  In 1972 the clan moved to Newark, Delaware and settled into The Binns.  Once the kids were mostly grown, Meta returned to the workforce as a staff Nurse at Union Hospital Elkton, Maryland.  Again, Meta’s quest for knowledge was beckoning.  She attended the University of Delaware and graduated with a Masters of Science in Nursing in the early 80’s.  At Union Hospital she moved into Staff Development until her retirement in 1990.  Here is where Meta’s second lifetime begins. 

With interests in Gardening, birding, travel, reading, astrometry, politics, social justice and volunteerism she was a force to be reckoned with.  Becoming interested in horticulture through a friend, Hayward Horry, just after marriage, she became a Master Gardner from the University of Delaware.  Her backyard is a wonderland of many plants species and Meta was the one to ask when it came to gardening queries. 

Continuing outdoors, she became an avid birder and was the president of the Delmarva Ornithological Society in the early 90’s. Never missing an opportunity to spot a new bird species or teach a family member about birding, she’d guide us trampling through woods and brush, birding from cars and owling at night.  Her local hotspots were Creek Road, Lums Pond, Turkey Point, the C and D Canal and the Wilmington Landfill but, her favorite was Bombay Hook.  After spending the day at Bombay Hook, there was the celebratory crab cake at Sambo’s in Leipsic, Delaware.  Going there for years after birding jaunts, Meta and the folks at Sambo’s became fast friends.  The one thing that made the friendship obvious was the fact that Meta’s crab cake was always much larger than everyone else’s.  

Her passions for birding and gardening drove much of her travels, South America, Europe, South Africa and Asia were only some of the global locations she ventured to in search of the exotics. 

Meta’s thirst for knowledge and to experience new things was insatiable.  As a devoted reader, she especially enjoyed non-fiction, biographies, history and continuing education.  She enjoyed Movie Night at University of Delaware always inviting her friends and family to watch with her (sometimes leading to a bit of awkwardness, depending on the subject matter).  Always wanting to stay up on current events and make a difference, she was active in the League of Women Voters and American Association of University Women (AAUW) and supported the ACLU, NAACP and multiple conservation groups.  She was passionate about the treatment of others and our impact on the planet. 

Meta never shied away from a challenge, nor was she fearful to try new things.  She took every opportunity to expand her knowledge and spirt. Her life was a celebration and adventure in humanity and will live on in us for years to come. 

After suffering a stroke in early February 2020, Meta peacefully passed away on Saturday, February 29, 2020 in the presence of her loving daughter, Marta and friend/caregiver, Zephney McKenzie. 

In addition to her parents, Meta was preceded in death by her husband, Robert D. Little; and her brothers, Tommy Craddock and Barney Craddock. She is survived by Robert D. Little, James C. Little, Marta A. Hayden, Richard Hayden, Jane Hayden and other beloved family, friends and grand dogs. 

A visitation for family and friends will be held from 3:30 pm until 4:30 pm on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE, where a Celebration of life will begin at 4:30 pm. Interment will be held privately. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Meta’s memory to any of the following: 

The National Audubon Society – 

The Conservation Fund – 

The American Civil Liberties Union –

The American Heart Association –


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19 Condolences for Meta C. Little

  • I had the pleasure of working with Meta at Union Hospital. She was a wonderful nurse and mentor. Her sense of humor made a shift go by quickly and could brighten any day. The world has lost a wonderful person and I know she will be missed my many. I know her family will be comforted by the memories of shared adventures!

  • Meta, I met you a few times while travelling with work and spending time at Rich and Marta’s home. You totally inspired me with your eagerness, desire to get out and about, to birdwatch and just to be outdoors. You were a truly remarkable strong lady. You will be sadly missed X

  • I met Meta at Union Hospital and enjoyed her friendship for the years since then.
    I always felt that she was fortunate to have such a caring and helpful family. I send
    them all my sympathy on their loss.
    Marilyn Nichols

  • My deepest sympathy on the loss of your loved one

  • I first met Meta in 1982 at Union Hospital. After she retired I would run into her at both UDBG and DOS meetings. She was one of the special ones. I hope I’m like her when “I grow up.” She will be missed.

  • I fondly remember Meta from working with her at Union Hospital.
    She was definitely a special nurse, always willing to teach. It certainly sounds as if she lived a very full, and satisfying life.

  • Oh, how I loved meeting, knowing and being inspired by Meta! We met soon after I moved to the Binns in the mid-90s. Because we shared many interests, she became a mentor and a friend – she could answer any gardening, birding or traveling question I had. I loved being neighbors with Meta and am so very glad our paths crossed in life. She made this planet a better place. I want to be her when I “grow up”.

  • My friendship with Meta began late in her life, but I am grateful for the opportunity to have known her for even a short time. She was an amazing lady.

  • What an incredible life! My only regret is that I didn’t know Meta longer but I met her even before I moved here in 2013. And Meta was so fortunate to have such a loving family — my thoughts are with you all.

  • I knew Meta as an avid and accomplished birder and conservationist. She was “my” Vice President at DOS, 1989-91, becoming President in the 1991-93 term, and elected a Fellow in 1993. Additionally, while DOS does not officially have a Social Committee nor Hospitality Chair, Meta “filled” these roles with dignity, wit and humor at monthly meetings, and on our Spring Roundups, Christmas Bird Counts and long distance trips – including several frigid winter weekend trips to Massachusetts and Maine. My condolences to the family.

  • I used to occasionally see Meta at Bombay Hook. I always enjoyed chatting with and learning from her about the birds we saw there. My condolences to her loved ones.

  • Meta, you were a true inspiration . The little bit that I worked with you on League of Women Voter registration or events was a true blessing for me . God bless you and thank you .

  • Meta was a rare and very special person. I met her at a UDBG lecture, and continued to cross paths with her for the next decade, through LWVNCC, and other activists org.
    We carpooled to a variety of events in Newark. We shared the same humor. Meta, you will be missed; you will be remembered with much love. Emily

  • I never knew Meta’s age, but she was ageless. When I met her on a trip to Okefenokee Swamp in 1993, she knew birds and she knew how to speak her mind, though said quietly and with her lovely accent. Always gracious and helpful, she was a pleasure to be with. She was president of DOS before I was a member, but her legacy endured. My favorite quote from her on the status of conservation in the world, “I’m so glad I started birding where there were still birds around to see” – that’s always made me wonder about nature in past eras. She will be missed!

  • I know Meta through the League of Women Voters, but it’s clear that she was into so much more. With such a rich life, she will be sorely missed.

  • Meta was one of the most influential people in my life. She ‘took me under her wing’ in the Staff Development Department at Union Hospital and encouraged me to pursue my masters degree in nursing. She introduced me to birding and fostered my interests in horticulture. She was my mentor and my friend. Her enthusiasm for life and learning was always inspiring. I am so thankful that she was a part of my life and will miss her dearly.
    My sincere condolences to her family.

  • I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with her several times and was impressed by her intelligence and demeanor. A very accomplished lady. Sorry to hear of her passing. My condolences.

  • Marta: I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, she truly had a life that was well lived. It is tough losing a mother, but it makes it a little easier knowing she truly enjoyed her life. My prayers are with you and your family.

  • What a neat interesting lady!! Met and talked with her once, at her sister-in-law’s funeral. She was delightful.