In Memory of




Obituary for Carl Howard Alston

Carl Howard Alston, 74, loving and devoted father, avid reader, martial arts expert, jazz music lover, Star Trek super fan, political junkie, passionate conversationalist and generous friend, died on October 29, 2022, in Rockville, MD.
Born to Doris Wood and Leroy Ragland, Jr., on November 11, 1947, in Richmond, VA. Carl Howard Alston began his life under challenging circumstances. His mother, Doris was an unmarried teenage girl who made the difficult decision to give her newborn son to a family friend Sadie Alston of Philadelphia, PA for a better life and a home full of love and acceptance. At that time, Sadie a domestic worker, was a young widow, her husband Abraham Alston of Savannah, GA passed in 1947. Carl was immediately adopted by Sadie and her sister Cleo Hope Grigsby and raised in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA.
As a young child, he loved school, sports, playing with friends, reading and his dear cousins Lorraine Ewing and James Randolph “Billy” Grigsby.
As a teenager he was inspired by the political movements of the 1960s including rights for Blacks in America and the US military hostility that would eventually become the war in Vietnam. In the mid 1960s, as a teenager, he joined a Black economic and political power organization modeled after the Black Panthers in Philadelphia. At the age of 17, Carl accepted a job at the United States Post Office but the war in Vietnam was growing and on March 11th, 1969, he was inducted via selective service into the United States Army. He earned the rank of E4 and served in the 5th Battalion, 68th Amory in Germany. His unit was never deployed to Vietnam, and he was honorably discharged in March 1975.
In September 1968, he met Faune (Nash) Watkins at a party in Philadelphia. The two married in a courthouse in Virginia after he finished basic training at Ft. Dix, NJ in 1969. He left for Germany and the war, immediately following their wedding. In early 1971 he returned to Philadelphia shortly after the birth of their son Kwaku and moved in with his wife and adopted daughter Karen. Another daughter, Alecia was born in 1973. He rejoined the post office and worked there until his early retirement in 2007. His marriage to Faune Watkins ended in the mid 1970s and he moved to West Philadelphia where he lived for the remainder of his life as a bachelor.
Carl was an insatiable lifelong learner, and believed that education was the key to success and that knowledge was power. He studied the continent of Africa, traditional languages and had plans to travel the globe especially Asia and Africa.
In the '70s, Carl's passion for education led him to Philadelphia Community College where he studied basic liberal arts classes. He was a martial arts advocate and studied for decades to master his craft. He enjoyed spending time with his three young children: Karen Maria Alston, Kwaku Cinque Alston and Alecia Maria Hudson. In the 1980s he lost his best friend since his teenage years to violence Alphonso Faulkner.
Carl never missed an opportunity to teach and to learn. He was an avid reader and enjoyed sharing books and films with family and friends. Throughout his life he questioned everything and taught his children to read and study. He loved spending time with his family and especially loved visiting with family in his hometown neighborhood of Germantown. He loved the City of Philadelphia. He loved jazz and listening to live music. He collected books, CD’s, tapes and albums of his favorite jazz musicians. He monitored the financial markets and invested in mutual funds and commodities. He believed in preparing for all calamities and taught his children to prepare for any major life event. He was a diehard ‘Star Trek’ fan and believed in the power of the human mind and man’s ability to travel to worlds far away.
In the later years of his life there were several major milestones including the marriage of his youngest daughter Alecia Alston Hudson to Alan Hudson and the birth of his first two grandchildren Ashley Simone Hudson and Aaron LaMarc Hudson. A decade later, his son Kwaku would marry Marjan Alston and also give birth to two additional grand children: Kaveh Alston (10) and Luna Alston (5). He lost his childhood friend and cousin Lorraine Ewing in May 2020.
Recently, due to technology and DNA testing a family mystery was resolved and at the age of 73, Carl learned the identity of his paternal father, Leroy Ragland, Jr., of Detroit, MI. In 2021, Carl was able to meet his first cousin, jazz musician and Reverend Nathaniel Dixon, Jr., and several Ragland family members. This knowledge brought tremendous closure and joy for him to learn the history and roots of his paternal father’s family.
Carl was predeceased by his mother Sadie Alston, his aunt Cleo Grigsby, his biological parents Doris Wood and Leroy Ragland, Jr., his cousins Reverend Nathaniel Dixon, Jr., and Lorraine Ewing and his best friend Alphonso Faulkner. He is survived by his children, Karen Maria Alston (Washington, DC), his favorite son, Kwaku Cinque Alston (Malibu, CA) and his “bumble bee” Alecia Maria Hudson (LaPlata, MD). His grandchildren Ashley Simone Hudson, Aaron LaMarc Hudson, Kaveh Alston and Luna Alston. His former wife, Faune Watkins (National Harbor, MD); his best friend and first cousin James Randolph “Billy” Grigsby (Sicklerville, NJ) a host of extended family and cousins including: Rita Watkins (Philadelphia, PA), Randy Ewing, (Philadelphia, PA) James Keith Grigsby (Baltimore, MD), Dana Watkins (Philadelphia, PA), Nyofu Mshinda (Houston, TX), Ayana Dixon, (Brooklyn) Nate Dixon (Brooklyn, NY) and many others.
To celebrate Carl’s life, donations can be made in his name to Casey House – Montgomery Hospice. A celebration of life ceremony will be held at Our House Cultural Center on Friday November 11, 2022.
- Karen Maria Alston, Kwaku Cinque Alston and Alecia Maria Hudson
“Death is that state in which one exists only in the memory of others. Which is why it is not an end. No goodbyes. Just good memories. Hailing frequencies closed, sir.”
Lt. Tasha Yar, Star Trek Next Generation