‘Mama Stone’s’ wish came true for Mother’s Day

Published 11:32 pm Monday, May 13, 2019

For the last 32 years of her life, Lilla Hughes Stone longed for her son’s body to be returned to Pleasant Home.

On Saturday – 43 years after her death, and 76 years after 2nd Lt. Walter B. “Buster” Stone’s P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft went down over Nazi-occupied France – “Mama Stone’s” wish came true when the WWII  pilot was given a hero’s welcome, and he was finally laid to rest in the family plot at Pleasant Home Baptist Church.

Family members said Mrs. Stone’s final words were about bringing Buster home. He was 24 when he died on Oct. 22, 1943.

Area residents lined the streets from downtown Andalusia and on parts of Hwy. 29 as the funeral procession traveled from Foreman’s Funeral Home to Pleasant Home Saturday morning. The morning was grey, and a light rain fell as the mourners traveled through town, but appreciative locals stood on the sidewalks, many waving American flags.

O.J. Blount, who was drafted a year after Stone died and who also saw service in Korea, was on the Court Square.

Area residents braved the elements to participate in Lt. Stone’s homecoming. Among them was O.J. Blount, who was drafted a year after Stone died, and retired from the military. He saw action in WWII and Korea.

“He certainly deserves the attention,” Blount said of the patriotic turnout. Down the street, another WWII veteran, Fletcher Jones, also was among those showing support.

Participants in the caravan estimated as many as 1,000 people stood in the rain to show their support. And the effort was not lost on the family.

“I cried all the way to Pleasant Home,” Mark Stone, Lt. Stone’s grand-nephew, said during the funeral service.

Stone said bravery and valor were a way of life for Lt. Stone, who was one of four brothers who saw service during WWII. “It is appropriate that he is being laid to rest among these that love him so. “

He said he believes it was not a coincidence that Lt. Stone came home on Mother’s Day weekend.

“Mama Stone had a strong faith and believe that one day, one of America’s finest and bravest would come home,” he said.

Another great-grandson, also named Buster Stone, currently owns Mrs. Stone’s home, and had it festooned with bunting, and also displayed signs that said, “Welcome home Buster Stone.”

The Stone homeplace

“God honored the faithfulness of the Stone family,” Brother Fred Kelley, pastor of Pleasant Home Baptist Church and one of two officiants at the funeral, said.

Mrs. Stone taught Sunday School at the church for 50 years, and always prayed diligently and spoke confidently that “one day, Buster is coming home,” he said.

Following the service, Lt. Stone was buried near his mother with full military honors, including a military flyover, a 21-gun salute, and the playing of “Taps.”

Lt. Stone was the son of James W. Stone Sr. and Lilla Hughes Stone and eight siblings, all of whom also are deceased. Survivors include his nephews, Marcus Stone, Jimmy Stone, Buster Stone, Jake Stone, and nieces, Nelda Godwin, Arleen Stalnaker, Kate, Sues and Sara Stone.