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 – https://www.audubon.org/
The Conservation Fund – https://www.conservationfund.org/
The American Civil Liberties Union – https://www.aclu.org/
The American Heart Association – https://www.heart.org/