Mrs. Martha Mae Ophelia Moon Tucker

“I’ve always wanted to try on a wedding dress.”

Mrs. Martha Mae Ophelia Moon Tucker was watching her favorite film — Coming to America — with her granddaughter, Angela Strozier, when she mentioned the wish aloud. It wasn’t something she’d shared before, and at 94 years old, it wasn’t something that Tucker actually envisioned experiencing. However, Strozier heard her grandmother’s wish, and, with the help of her family decided to bring that dream to life.

“She never wore a wedding dress when she got married,” Strozier said.

Tucker was born in Alexander City, AL in 1927 and moved to Birmingham when she was 15.

In 1952, she married the love of her life, Lehman Tucker Sr.
However, at the time, Black women were not allowed in bridal shops, Strozier explained, so the family she worked for loaned her a navy blue dress.

Tucker worked alongside Civil Rights leaders fighting for voting rights in Alabama and, in 1963, became a registered voter and poll worker. She retired as a chief poll worker in November 2020 after working elections for 57 years, having dedicated decades of her life and career to making sure Black votes counted and Black voices were heard.

She and her husband had four children, 11 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchild and one great, great grandchild. After 25 years of marriage, Tucker’s husband passed away in 1975.

Though she says she has no desire to remarry, she never gave up the desire to see herself in a wedding gown.

On July 3, 2021, following a surprise makeover and trip to David’s Bridal, Mrs. Tucker tried on wedding dresses for the first time and found her dream gown, surrounded by her family.

“You know, I can’t even express how special it was. It was too special,’’ Tucker said. “I’ve been wanting to do that a long time, just put one on.”

mrs tucker with stonewear gown

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Valeria Lento Palmertree

At the young age of 8 years old, Valeria Lento Palmertree arrived in Miami Beach, having immigrated from Argentina with her parents and younger brother. The family arrived in the United States with three key possessions, hope, opportunity, and each other.

Having no familiarity with the English language and little by way of luxuries, Valeria’s parents; mother, Norma Mabel Serchia, and father, Tiziano Lento, built a vibrant, multicultural home for their two children, drawing on a different type of wealth, and celebrating a richness they had in abundance. They gifted their children a warm childhood, supported by a foundation of hard work, fierce determination, infinite love, and relentless hope.

“My parents always made us feel like we weren’t alone; they taught us that we had deep, cultural roots, and that we could overcome anything as long as we had each other.”

From those roots, Valeria blossomed, achieving milestones and experiences well beyond those accessible to her parents. She graduated both high school and college, first-generation; she found a career that allowed her to explore her passions and explore the world; and, eventually, she discovered her own love story with her now husband, Sean Palmertree.

“Everything I’ve done and get to do is because of their sacrifice. There was a point where I realized that I’m my parents’ American Dream, and I have to honor that.”

However, Valeria’s foundation, formed around and by the enduring, ever-present truth of family, was tested after the tragic and sudden loss of her mother, followed swiftly by the loss of her father.

During their first year of their marriage, Valeria and Sean endured ten months apart, as Sean had been deployed overseas. During his deployment, Norma, Valeria’s mother, fell seriously ill, and was confined to the ICU for two months, with Valeria as her designated caretaker. Upon Sean’s return, Norma urged her daughter to go to her husband.

Shortly after the couple were reunited, Valeria received a call that her mother had passed.

“She wanted me to be with him. It was like she wanted to remind me, as she had always done, that I could overcome anything as long as I had my family. Sean, for myself and for my mother, was the answer to that promise — I’d found love, and I would never be alone.”

In the year following Norma’s death, Valeria’s father, Tiziano, began to suffer from early signs of dementia, and Valeria found herself as a caretaker for her parent once again. However, while Valeria shared an understanding and closeness with her mother that had spanned her lifetime, the time together with her father revealed a different side of the man Valeria had known through her childhood. As she writes:

“Growing up, I didn’t always understand my dad. He was stern and strict and strong-willed and much too serious about everything…[But], when my mom unexpectedly passed away, I finally saw my dad’s vulnerability, his weakness and his undying love for the woman who sacrificed everything for her family… As his caretaker, I got to know him in a different light, and my heart opened up a space for him that had for too long been choked up. Now, I finally understand him.”

Twenty-two months following the death of her mother, Valeria’s father passed away after battling a severe case of pneumonia.

It was clear, she explains, that he died of a broken heart.

Today, Valeria honors her parents through her own life, love story, and colorful, cultural legacy. She continues to grow, both deepening her roots into the rich, nurturing ground of her heritage and past, while turning her face to the sun, blooming radiant and resilient in glow of a bright future — and the promise of love as she writes this next chapter of her family story. Like the wedding dress sculpture created for her by StoneWear Ceramics by Erika Hitchock, Valeria is “Stronger Than Stone.”

“Seven years later, I try to honor them in everything that I do. My journey prepared me to be strong, and I was born to be resilient.”

Lauren Urey

After celebrating their wedding in Charleston, South Carolina on October 18, 2019, newlyweds Lauren and Matt Urey departed on a New Zealand honeymoon cruise that December. However, what should have been a dream romantic getaway instead became a fight for survival. On December 9, Lauren, Matt, and 36 other vacationers set out to explore the exotic, volcanic Whakaari, or White Island. Despite notifications of significant seismic activity and warnings of heightened eruption risk, neither the tour company nor the cruise line notified the excursioners and proceeded to continue the tour of the White Island volcano as planned.

“It has been over 10 months since that awful day. Some days it feels like it was just yesterday and other days it feels like it was ages ago.”

Unbeknownst to the 47 vacationers, visitors, and guides on the island that day, the trip to White Island would change their lives forever, and only half of the group would return alive. At around 2:11 pm, the White Island volcano erupted, engulfing the party in ash, noxious gas, and smoke. Matt and Lauren took cover behind a rock and braced themselves against the scalding ash and debris.

“I just held his hand, I just told him, ‘I love you, I love you,’ and like he said, I thought it was only seconds until I would die. I just wanted him to know how much I loved him,” Lauren says.

Lauren suffered extensive burns to her neck, legs, stomach and face. Her lungs were badly affected from the toxic gases in the eruption. Matt suffered burns to more than half of his body, including his hands. The couple spent the next two months recovering in separate hospitals until they were able to reunite return home.

Today, Lauren and Matt continue to persevere, and the strength of their love and resilient spirit serves as a source of growth, healing, and support. The couple recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, and despite enduring a year colored by pain and loss, their outlook is bright, and their love is stronger than stone:

“I can’t believe it’s been a year already! It definitely hasn’t been the year we expected but our love is stronger than ever. I love you so much and I cannot imagine my life without you in it, Matt Urey.”

After discovering her story, I created a wedding dress sculpture of Lauren’s gown to honor her strength, compassion, and the relentless love she and Matt share in the face of such pain and hardship.

“I was so touched to receive this amazing work of art!” Lauren says. “After everything I have been though in the past year, this was such a beautiful gift to receive. I couldn’t wait to put it front and center in our living room, where I can look at it and reflect on all the good memories from our beautiful wedding day. Even after everything we’ve been through, those moments are forever meaningful and bright and full of happiness. It truly was the perfect day.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Legacy of RGB

“Born in 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, Bader taught at Rutgers University Law School and then at Columbia University, where she became its first female tenured professor. She served as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s, and was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980. Named to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, she continued to argue for gender equality.”

As a person versed in navigating life’s trials, overcoming obstacles, and flourishing in the face of adversity, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves in her wake an iconic legacy of strength, resilience, and compassion. Seen as a fighting voice for women’s rights, equality, progress, and hope, Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as a beacon of truth, a protector, and an advocate for preserving the humanity of a nation.

She was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and served as the second Supreme Court female justice, advocating for women’s rights and paving the way for generations of women until her death on September 18, 2020. For more information and further details of RBG’s storied career and monumental legacy, visit to explore comprehensive insight and biographical content.

justice ruth bader ginsburg-Photograph by Sebastian Kim / August

Dr. Kerry Anne Perkins

In the midst of protests erupting in the wake of historic and prevalent racial injustice, Dr. Kerry Anne Perkins and her husband, Michael Gordon, found themselves alongside passionate protestors marching to honor the memory of George Floyd. The couple joined hands and the march in an iconic display of love, hope, and unity in the face of tragedy, hate and sorrow.

Upon seeing the stunning photos of the pair, I knew that this was a moment I wanted to help them capture with a ceramic wedding dress sculpture. Dr. Kerry Anne inspired the creation of Stronger Than Stone, and leads this initiative as the first ‘Stronger Than Stone’ bride. Her strength, her grace, her perseverance, and the courage that she and Michael share remind us all that humanity is more powerful than hatred — and that love is even stronger than stone.