George Chriss, coach, counselor and mentor
George Chriss — who had been a coach, trainer, teacher, counselor and administrator at El Paso High School for 28 years — died at age 77.
He was a board member of the National Association of School Principals, a former president of East El Paso Lions Club, and a World War II veteran.
George was born Oct. 22, 1922, in El Paso. His parents were Celestine Febles Chriss and John Chriss. His father, an immigrant from Greece, owned an El Paso restaurant.
“My father inherited the love of cooking,” George's daughter Pat said. “He was a wonderful cook. In fact when they were first married, he said, in jest, that he had taught my mother to cook.”
He attended Morehead Elementary School before entering El Paso High. Upon graduating he entered the Navy during World War II serving in Pacific theater campaigns at Guam, Okinawa and Bougainville. His Seabees unit was attached to the 1st Marine Division.
“They were a rugged bunch without much support,” Pat said. “He survived 11 bouts with malaria.”
When he returned to the United States he enrolled in college with the help of GI Bill money. He met Gloria Montelongo while both were enrolled at Texas Western College (UTEP). Upon graduation they were married June 2, 1949, moved to Ruidoso, and embarked on a career of property management.
Subsequently they returned to El Paso when Gloria accepted a teaching position with the El Paso Independent School District and George enrolled in a graduate program, earning a master of arts degree in education in 1959. Gloria is currently an associate professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in the Department of Psychiatry.
“George enjoyed his first position as an educator and coach at Zack White School, a county educational facility,” said Gloria. “Upon consolidation of the country schools with EPISD, he was hired as a math teacher and coach at El Paso High.”
George was an active board member and past president of El Paso Federal Teachers Credit Union. He was active in the planning, construction, and completion of the teachers Credit Union office on Continental drive. He was active in teachers and administrators associations on the local, state, and national levels. George was a volunteer in many community activities including the Sun Carnival parade organization, serving there for approximately 10 years. He was voted outstanding Ex-student of El Paso High in 1970, and was chairman of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of El Paso High School.
The 1969 class reunion of El Paso High honored George at its 30-year reunion on Oct. 16, 1999, when he was selected as an honoree. George was recognized for his influence and contributions to El Paso High School. The class will continue to honor George with an on-going El Paso High School Scholarship Fund.
“He was always a champion of students in the low-income group,” his son Eric said.
“We were lucky to have my father for so long,” Pat said, "considering his long illness with a disease in the category of muscular dystrophy. During the last five years he was bedfast.”
Daughter Claudia said, “Dad never complained and always acknowledged any act of kindness offered with a smile and a verbal thank you.”
Chriss died at home on Nov. 28.
“Up to the last week he enjoyed visits from former students, colleagues, and dear friends from East El Paso Lions Club,” Gloria said. “Friday before he passed, the family gathered around him to read scripture and pray. He had informed them that he was ready to go. His passing was peaceful, tranquil , and at home as he had wished.”
He was pre-deceased by his parents and only sister. Survivors are Gloria, his wife of 50 years; daughters Patricia Chriss, a critical-care nurse in San Diego, Claudia Thomason, who is getting her master’s degree in physical therapy, son Eric Chriss who has his own custom consulting firm for Maquiladora enterprises, and one granddaughter, Sarah.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the George Chriss
El Paso Scholarship Fund, 125 Thunderbird, Suite E., El Paso, Texas 79912.
Katherine G. Ruedisueli “Kit” Bissonette
Graveside services were held at Fort Bliss National Cemetery for Katherine G. Ruedisueli “Kit” Bissonette, age 82, a former Army nurse and retired manager of a women’s apparel shop in El Paso.
Kit was born Oct. 24, 1916, in Mount Clemens, Mich. Her father was a street car motorman. At age 9 her family moved to Detroit, where she attended St. Rita High School. While there she was a captain of the girls’ basketball team, played in the school orchestra and was secretary of her senior class. She enrolled in St. Joseph’s School for Nursing in Detroit, working her way through college and graduating in 1936.
“Her first job as a nurse was in the Ford Hospital in Detroit,” said her husband Bruce Bissonette. “She was an attendant for the delivery of two of Henry Ford’s great-grandchildren. She shook hands with Ford when he came over to talk with her. Kit was thorough in her work. She was friendly and warm, caring and compassionate. She didn’t cater to those who had money, but treated all equally. She was a statuesque blonde and a tall Powers model in 1946-47.”
In 1942, during the early days of America’s entry into World War II, Katherine was assigned to Biggs Army Air Field Station Hospital for one year. Subsequent assignments included Camp Chaffee, Ark., and other military bases until the 79th Field Hospital was formed. There she served for the remainder of the war.
In 1944 her unit was sent overseas: to England, France, Belgium and Germany. The unit was near the front at the “Battle of the Bulge.” Near the end of the war the 79th was assigned to St. Marien Krankenhaus In Ludwigshafen, Germany, to care for survivors of the Holocaust.
“There was an acute shortage of medical personnel at war’s end,” Bruce said.
“Preparations for separation from the services were being made. Units were being broken up and skilled personnel about to be shipped home. With thousands of hospitalized servicemen needing attention, an effort was made to keep medical help in the service by offering spot promotions.
“Kit’s unit boarded ship en route to the Pacific theater of operations. They were in the mid-Atlantic when the War ended in Japan. In November 1945 Kit was promoted to captain. She returned to Michigan in January of 1946.”
Prior to her overseas assignment, Kit had married Phillip Girard. They were sent on separate assignments and after the war each returned to Detroit, he as a policeman and she as an industrial nurse and model. Seeking a change of profession, they moved to the North Woods community of Lake City, Mich., where they opened a hotel.
“They did every bit of the work themselves,” said Bruce, “primarily doing the construction work, painting etc. Twelve years later they sold out and started West. They settled in El Paso where Katherine lived for 30 years.
“They opened up one of the finest smoke shops in town, called Tobacco Row,” Bruce said. “Then Kit had an opportunity to team up with a friend, Nancy Peterson, to start the Eye Catcher, a store for women’s apparel in the Mills Building.”
When her husband Phillip died, Katherine continued with her work. An old friend, Bruce Bissonette, had just lost his wife, so Kit and Bruce renewed their friendship. He was then working as a news reporter for KIZZ.
They were married March 9, 1985.
After 15 years of marriage, Katherine died Oct. 13, following a lengthy illness. Graveside services were held Oct. 18 at Fort Bliss National Cemetery, with the Rev. J. Dewayne Richardson officiating.
She is survived by her husband, Bruce E. Bissonette, and a sister, Alma Gawne of Williamsville, N.Y., a stepdaughter, Marianne Bissonette, a stepson, Earl Bissonette, both of El Paso, and a nephew and a niece. Contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, El Paso Chapter, 4400 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX 79902.
Fred Stinson embodied the spirit of Christmas
The spirit of Christmas was in Fred John Stinson, who died recently at age 70. Each year he and his family decorated their home in the Eastridge area, and won numerous awards through the years for that work.
He piloted his own plane from 1983 to 1993, and often flew to the little fishing village of El Novillo in Mexico where the residents lived in adobe huts on dusty streets, have no telephones, and more than 600 youngsters run everywhere.
“One year Dad got the idea of flying down there to play Santa Claus at Christmas and deliver candy and toys to all the children,” said his son Randy, CEO of Stinson & Son Insurance Agency. “Another time David C. Stidham from Amarillo was at El Novillo when his mother passed away. My dad was contacted through friends so he flew down and notified David of his mother’s death.”
One of the 150 memorial letters was from David Stidham who wrote, “There are not many men in our society who would have been willing to expend the degree of effort required to contact a stranger in a foreign land, especially to relay that kind of tragic news.”
Fred, a native of Tucumcari, N.M., was born July 28, 1929. His parents were Charles “Skeet” Stinson and Pearl Surguy Stinson. His grandmother was a Cherokee Indian and his father was the mayor of Tucumcari in the early 1950s. Fred was the third-generation Stinson to graduate from Tucumcari High School.
“Dad was service oriented,” Randy said. “He went to work at age 13, delivering gas to farmers around Tucumcari. He started working for the Southern Pacific Railroad at age 20, becoming an engineer for the line.”
His daughter Melanie said, “One year he worked the longest hours, and the highest number of working days of all the employees during that year.”
Fred enrolled in the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, majoring in business with a minor in psychology. He met a young bank teller, Betty Ann Carr. They were married July 29, 1953. He graduated from college in 1954. After two years in the Army at Fort Knox, Ky., he was discharged.
In 1962 he moved his family to El Paso.
In 1967 he created the family insurance company. During his last year he laid the groundwork, along with his children Randy and Melanie, to purchase a franchise called “GROUPadvantage.” There will be an insurance kiosk in all three Sam’s stores in El Paso, which will be in operation during the year 2000. It was his dream that his four grandchildren would one day work within the company.
While his children were growing up, Fred was president of Eastwood Optimist Club where he helped develop one of the largest youth groups in the nation. He was also president of the Eastwood High Boosters, and was a member of East Lions Club, Shriners, and the Elks.
Melanie, who is office manager for the insurance company, said “Happiness, to my dad, would be having all of his family living together under one roof. He always wanted everyone to be close. He checked on his 90-year-old mother every day. She continues to walk a mile around Album Park five days a week. She would often say ‘all I had to do was ring a bell and Fred was there.’ In 1998 the entire family went to Disney World for Thanksgiving.”
Fred died Nov. 3, victim of a brain tumor. His memorial service was held in Immanuel Baptist Church and burial was at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
His wife Betty said, “He had many wonderful qualities that will not be forgotten, but most importantly he was the ‘Rock’ for the Stinson family. If Fred could speak today it would probably be to challenge you to be a rock for your family, spend time with them, love them, respect them, and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Survivors include his wife Betty Ann Carr Stinson; his son Randy and wife Michelle; daughters Melanie Stinson and Cindy Stinson Yeager; his mother Pearl Stinson Baker and stepfather George Baker; sisters Mary Kay Dyer of Houston; sister-in-law Ginger Carr Stahl of Las Vegas, Nev.; and four grandchildren.
Harris known for faithfulness
Miriam Billingsley Harris, a 40-year worker for the Community Concert Association, two years as chairman, a president of the Sunset Garden Club, and named Mother of the Year in 1967 by the Junior Woman’s Club and the White House, died at age 78.
“Miriam was an active, gifted, gracious, intelligent, loving person,” said Sue Dickson, a parish associate of the First Presbyterian Church. “She did not care about the listings of her achievements, but that she be remembered for her faithfulness.”
Miriam was born Jan. 16, 1921 in Roberta, Ga., to Rev. H.A. Billingsley, a Methodist minister, and Olive Billingsley Hatchell. At the age of 5, Miriam moved with her parents to El Paso where her father became minister of the Asbury Methodist Church. When father died, Miriam’s mother had to work to support her three children.
Olive remarried. Miriam’s stepfather was a Baptist missionary. Quite often she would accompany him to the interior of Mexico to take clothing to the Tarahumara Indians.
She attended Alta Vista and Houston elementary schools before entering Austin High School and graduating in 1938. She was an active student, taking 12 years of piano lessons, playing tennis and basketball, participating in drama and plays. Her mother was working as head of El Paso High School and Houston Elementary cafeterias.
Miriam enrolled in Howard Payne College, Brownwood, Texas, on a work scholarship, majoring in history. She was working her way through college with her sewing skills. A sewing machine had been placed in her room where she repaired linens from the dining room. She was called home because of the death of her stepfather. After that she attended the College of Mines (UTEP) in El Paso.
She worked for Prudential Insurance, American Airlines, and the State National Bank. She met Freeman Harris, another employee of the bank who saw her at a party at the Paso Del Norte Hotel. A news reporter, in writing a story about Miriam, described her as “tall and prematurely gray with a musical speaking voice and perfect teeth and complexion.”
After a while she and Freeman had their first date, attending a play at Liberty Hall. Freeman was a vice president of State National Bank and a soloist for the First Presbyterian Church. They were married May 25, 1953. Six years later they moved into their home in Kern Place where Freeman still lives.
Miriam joined her husband’s church, First Presbyterian, and immediately became involved in Sunday school teaching, being an elder, circle leader, and moderator of the Woman’s Association.
Both she and her husband backed music organizations of the city. She was headquarters chairman of the Community Concert Association and a member of the Women’s Committee of the El Paso Symphony Association.
Her other clubs and activities were: Woman’s Auxiliary of the Goodwill Industries, El Paso Women’s committee of the El Paso Tennis Club, member of the National Council of Christians and Jews, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso Historical Society, Women’s Department of the Chamber of Commerce; a vice president of the YWCA, past president of Young Matron’s Auxiliary, chairman of the El Paso Woman’s Club, president of Chapter M PEO, and Westside leader in the Republican Women’s Club during the 1960s.
She and Freeman found time to travel. They went to England many summers. Miriam was fond of doing needlepoint while traveling.
“Mother died in Providence Hospital on Nov. 10,” her daughter Carol Stripling said. “The Tuesday before she passed away she gathered her family about her and ministered to them. They sang hymns, read scripture and talked about her faith. She told us she was ready to go. Her last breath was like a musical note.”
Interment was at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
She was pre-deceased by her sister Mrs. Edward Allen. She is survived by her husband G. Freeman Harris, her daughter Carol Stripling and her son-in-law Tom Stripling, her son Tom Harris and daughter-in-law Kathleen, four grandchildren — Ryan and Paige Stripling and Chris and Ashley Harris — one brother Stan Billingsley of Ponca City, Okla. and his wife Joyce, and one brother-in-law, Ed Allen of El Paso.
Robert Arthur Madrid II
When Robert Arthur Madrid II decided to become a policeman after 16 years as a fireman, he also became, at age 49, the oldest person ever to graduate from the El Paso Police Academy.
“I liked Bobby because he made me feel a part of the family,” said his brother-in-law John Baynes. “So many said to him, ‘You’ll never make it at your age,’ but he proved them all wrong. He could do it!”
Bobby was valedictorian of his class at the academy and spoke at the graduation. He had won two awards during his training, and was presented with a .45-caliber automatic pistol for being No. 1 in firearms.
Robert was killed Sept. 18 after being struck from behind by a hit-and-run driver. He was on his Harley and on a motorcycle vacation trip to Albuquerque when the mishap occurred. The woman who hit him fled on foot, but was captured later.
Robert was born in El Paso on Feb. 18, 1945, the oldest son of Robert A. and Mary Loya Madrid. He had one brother, Rey, and two sisters, Kathy and Mary Kae. He attended St. Mary’s Elementary School in Albuquerque, where he became interested in the Soap Box Derby, placing third in competition.
“Our dad helped him build his first race car of wood, nuts and bolts,” Rey said. “He raced for five years.”
He attended Valley High School in Albuquerque for one year. Then the family moved to El Paso and Robert attended Ysleta High.
“When he was 14 an uncle gave him his first motorcycle. It was in pieces and he had to build it,” Rey said. “That caused him to love mechanics, to see how things are put together. He enrolled in El Paso’s Technical High School to learn welding and other skills. He took cars apart and put them back together, always seeking better perforance. He was called ‘King of the Hill.’ Robert was a certified mechanic, always challenged to be the best. He wanted to be No. 1.”
After graduating from high school, he enrolled in El Paso Community College. His brother Rey said Robert spent 16 years with the El Paso Fire Department, having joined when he was 18 years old.
“He was a workaholic,” Rey said. “After 10 years he went to the Police Academy as a certified peace officer to become an arson investigator.”
He was a member of the Optimist Club for 16 years, and was a long-standing member of the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club. On the day of his funeral a big snorkel fire truck followed the hearse to the Mount Carmel Cemetery and the Blue Knights and his fellow police officers came en masse. The bikers resolved to have a motorcyle run in his memory every year.
Police Chief Carlos Leon said, “His death was a tremendous loss to the department. Robert was very mature and was a role model for the others. He set the tempo for the department. Being the oldest student graduating from the academy, others would look at him and say, ‘If he can do it, I can do it!’” There were 57 units in the police escort to San Jose Church.
“Friendship was a gift he gave to people,” his sister Kathy said. “He was a very loving fellow. He knew how to handle people and everyone was his friend.”
His mother said: “He showed what a worthy person he was. The first 18 years of his life he was mine. He always came running when I invited him to dinner. He loved to eat.”
Among other things Robert did to add to his career accomplishments was to become a special agent/police investigator for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
In 1995 Robert moved to Ruidoso, for he was an outdoors person and loved to hunt and fish. There he spent 2 1/2 years with the Ruidoso police, teaching the use of firearms and handling canines.
He is survived by his parents, Robert “Bob” and Mary Madrid; daughters Lisa Riley and family of Colorado Springs, Jennifer Madrid-Otero and family of Albuquerque; sons: Jacob and Jared; his brother Rey Antony Madrid; sisters Kathy and her husband John Baynes, Mary Kae and her husband Rey Leyva; his wife, Kristina; two former wives, Barbara and Elaine and their combined families; and many nephews and nieces.
“His greatest desire was to help his fellowmen” said his brother Rey. “He excelled above everyone else as a field training officer and teacher. He had the knowledge and also the common sense needed. He had a good life and served his fellowmen.”
Dr. Bradford Hardie III
Dr. Bradford Hardie III, who spent 40 years in El Paso as an ophthalmologist, volunteered at Thomason General Hospital for 13 years, and served as secretary-treasurer for the El Paso County Medical Society, died recently at age 78.
Hardie was born in El Paso on Oct. 30, 1920, the oldest of two sons parented by Mineta Henning Hardie and Bradford Hardie Jr. In 1926 El Paso suffered from depression so Bradford’s parents moved from their rented house to live with paternal grandparents. Then all of them moved to Dallas where Bradford received his early education.
“He was in kindergarten, near sighted and wore glasses. So whenever he was caught in a fight he always had someone hold his glasses,” his daughter Tricia said.
In high school he enrolled in ROTC. He had a paper route and saved enough money to attend camp Dallas in Mineral Wells. He graduated in 1938 and enrolled in Texas A&M, working at the University’s Library.
“I will remember his love of reading,” said his wife Rebekah. (He would read to Becky while she was working in the kitchen.) “He loved the library, and would often go twice a week for more books.”
In December 1941 he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and the following day enlisted in the Army, where he was put on limited service because of nearsightedness. He had taken a one semester elective course in cryptoanalysis, so after two weeks with the Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth, N.J.
he was sent to Washington, D.C., to work at the War Department Code Center, receiving and sending cryptograms. In a paper written by his daughter, Tricia, she describes her father’s encounter with President Franklin D.Roosevelt. His task in the code room was to decipher cryptograms from London with messages from English prime Minister Winston Churchill (PRIME) to (POTUS) American President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“On Dec. 18, 1942, at about 9:40 p.m. Dad was asked to take a message to the White House. When he got there he entered on the ground floor at the left end ... on this night he was stopped about 10 feet from the map room and told to wait. The door suddenly opened and out came President Roosevelt into the corridor. He was in light-colored Palm Beach attire. He smiled at my dad and escorted him to the map room. The next day Dad discovered that he had not worn the brass insignia on his blouse which was his identification to go into the map room while working.”
Hardie’s book titled “The Cryptographer’s Way” gives a detailed account of his many interesting World War II experiences. During his 12 months in Paris he lived near the Arc de Triomphe. He loaned his double-barreled flare pistol to a couple of buddies on the night of VE day so they could shoot flares from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. In Europe he worked in the Army’s Signal Corps as a cryptographer, spending 17 months of his duty in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. For five months he lived near Hyde Park in London and helped crack messages intercepted from the German Enigma code machines, a device used to send encrypted messages.
On May 8, 1945, he returned to America and worked at Arlington Hall until the end of his four-year tour of duty. He began working in the Research and Development sections with cypher machines and equipment for cryptography. There he met an attractive teen-ager from North Carolina, Rebekah Esther Boone, who was working as a clerk typist.
He had already decided to go into medicine, so enrolled in Texas A&M for one year of pre-med. He was accepted at John Hopkins in Baltimore where he received his medical doctorate in 1951.
On Nov. 8, 1952, Bradford and Rebekah married in the Boone, North Carolina, Methodist church. He completed his residency at Wilmer Institute of ophthalmology at John Hopkins in 1954. He had risen from the rank of second lieutenant to captain and was awarded two bronze battle stars on his European Theater of Operations ribbon.
He died Oct. 23, leaving his wife Rebekah and their five children: daughters Beckie Hardie of Arlington, Va, Barbara Hudson, of Cullowhee, N.C., Leslie Hardie of Round Rock, Texas, Tricia Washer of El Paso, Sarah Coppock of Houston, one brother, Charles Hardie, and six grandchildren.
Ruth Underwood Pooley
Ruth Underwood Pooley, whose great-grandfather was one of the colonists with the Stephen F. Austin settlement in Texas, came to El Paso with her editor husband Edward Pooley in 1938. She died recently only five weeks before her 99th birthday.
She was born Dec. 4, 1900, in her grandfather’s home on the banks of the Brazos River in West Columbia, Texas, the youngest of the five Underwood children. They lived in a home that has been restored and is listed as a Texas Heritage Home. Her parents were Lucy Harris Underwood and John Carson Underwood.
Ruth grew up in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Library Science. This led to her first job as Harris County librarian. She would often take refreshments to work which would be devoured by young lawyers who came to do research. Another visitor was a cub newspaper reporter named Edward Pooley who was covering the courthouse. They were married on Oct. 21, 1928, and 10 years later moved to El Paso where Ed became editor of the El Paso Herald Post.
“He thrived on controversy,” said his daughter Ann Boylan. “He always had a campaign going. Visitors in our home included my parents’ close friend Ernie Pyle and such political figures as Raymond Telles, Lyndon Johnson, Ralph Yarborough, John Tower and J.T. Rutherford.
“Unfortunately the many good works my father backed personally, or through the Herald Post, are not well known. He was a pioneer in bridges of all sorts, fairness for all El Pasoans and smoothing race relations when that was not a popular cause. Ruth enjoyed using her home and patio for entertaining and meetings. During the war she was host to a group of teen-age girls every Saturday to roll bandages and knit squares for afghans. These ladies now feel it was really designed to keep them from taking the bus downtown to be where all the young Fort Bliss basic trainees spent the day.
Among her many community activities were: Dudley Grade School and El Paso High PTAs as well as the Red Cross Grey Ladies. Ruth was director of the Woman’s Department of the Chamber of Commerce; and interested in Pan American Roundtable, El Paso Museum of Art, Panhellenic Council, Delta Kappa Gamma, Kern Place Garden Club, and DAR. She was a national officer for Phi Mu Sorority and traveled extensively in that position. She was a director of the El Paso Public Library when the present downtown building replaced the older structure. She had been an active member of Trinity Methodist Church and participated in Bible study there.
When Ruth died Oct. 26, Dr. Will Cotton of Trinity United Methodist Church, used her love for beautiful gardens as a theme for his memorial eulogy at Restlawn Mausoleum Chapel. “She was honored with awards by the Garden Club
here. She loved to share the fruits of their greenhouse and pot her beautiful Camellias for a friend, or share sweet juice from the Pooley grape vines. Ruth had a good time at life and she liked others to have a good time with her.”
Ruth was never without a cat and in the past had Scotties and Dachshund dogs that were a part of the family.
“My father had been having strokes for 12 years before he died in 1969,” said daughter Ann. “He would have a stroke, get better, then have another one. Ruth became his uncomplaining, dedicated caregiver.”
Ann’s three children were the light of Ruth’s life. She was baby-sitter, contributed to their education and travel experiences and built investment accounts for them. They are John Boylan Jr. and wife Sawna of Boulder, Colo., Katherine Boylan Weikert and husband Jeff, Patricia Ruth Boylan, of Denver.
Other survivors include her daughter Ann Boylan.
Dr. Cotton said, “She lived fully in each moment, giving her legendary parties, enjoying people, and special moments with family and friends.”
Margaret Faust Drake Johnson
Margaret Faust Drake Johnson died two weeks before her 90th birthday. She traced her ancestry back to Revolutionary War days and was granted admission to Daughters of the American Revolution. She was a member of more than 20 organizations in El Paso.
Margaret was born on Oct. 24, 1909, to Jerry and Minnie Faust. They lived at the old pump station on the GH and SA railroad next to Fort Bliss. Her father, Jerry Faust, came from Santa Fe to El Paso Feb. 2, 1880, in a rickety stagecoach. Four masked horsemen, brandishing six-shooters, brought the stage to a jolting stop. After the passengers were robbed and the stage went on, Faust was elated that $1,000 remained in his money belt. He was active in the era of Billy the Kid and knew him personally, having lived with him at a Colorado boarding house.
Following four years work on the Santa Fe Railway, he was employed by the El Paso Water Service, at which time he helped build the pumping station. In 1884 he brought his family to the little town of 75 adobe huts and settled to watch this “dust stop” turn into a city.
Margaret recorded for history: “Papa was superintendent with five employees who lived on the place with their families; house, garden, cowshed, chicken pens. My brother Jerry and I were born here and since this place was in the county, the doctor from Fort Bliss did not register our births.”
The children attended Grandview Elementary School (now Rusk), Houston Junior High and El Paso High School. Margaret graduated from Baylor College in 1925 when she was 16 years old. Later she enrolled in El Paso Technical Institute and graduated in 1942, at the age of 33.
She married Julian “Pete” Drake, a street car driver in old El Paso. They had one daughter Barbara. Later they were divorced and Margaret met and married C.A. “Tuffy” Johnson, who was owner of Johnson’s Cafe. After Tuffy died she was introduced to Roy Holder who became her constant companion.
From 1957 to 1971 she worked in the federal service as a military pay supervisor. After 14 years she received a certificate of commendation from Maj. Gen. R.L. Shoemaker. (CEO) Arther E. Miller said, “I have known Mrs. Johnson since October 1958. She was one of the most efficient, dependable, loyal, conscientious employees I have ever known.”
Certificates in her scrapbook include: El Paso Genealogical Society, El Paso Mineral and Gem Society, Bachelor of Square dances and Round dances, Volunteer for Ysleta School District, El Paso City/County Nutrition Program, Sun Country Doll Folk, Python Sisters, Business and Professional Women’s Club, Credit Executives of Texas, Women’s Heritage Association. Her daughter Barbara Moss said, “Mother loved life, travel, parties, crafts and dancing. I don’t know how she had the energy to do it all.”
When Margaret died Oct. 1, her memorial service was held at the Mount Franklin Funeral Home with Rev. Guy Pearce officiating. Her son-in-law, Billy Moss, played “Amazing Grace” on his harmonica. Several eulogies were given. A month before she died, her son David Johnson had come for a visit.
She was proud of his attainments as an opera singer in many of the opera houses of Europe. David’s wife, Jan, is also a soloist. David said, “Mom used every moment experiencing life to the fullest. I know she was frustrated that her mortal body no longer supported her spiritual fire, which never went out, so she simply traded her body in for a better way to move forward.”
David stressed that Margaret was a creator while he, as an opera singer, was mainly an interpreter of words and music created by others.
She is survived by her daughter Barbara and son-in-law Bill Moss, son David Johnson and daughter-in-law Jan, her caregiver Tillie Moss, three grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
Interment was in Concordia Cemetery. One of the boys to whom she fed cookies when he was small is Luis “Sonny” Zamarano, who calls himself “Sonny the Gravedigger.” He remembered her with a whimsical sadness.
Ralph Gonzales, who worked for 30 years as a notary and income tax consultant, established four offices in South El Paso and was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, passed away with cancer of the liver at age 76.
Ralph was born June 11, 1923, in El Paso. His parents were Angela Gonzales and Enrique Aguirre. His paternal grandfather, Lazaro Aguirre, was a writer of some renown during the Mexican Revolution. Because he criticized the dictator Porfirio Diaz he had to flee the country to save his life. Ralph’s mother, Angela Gonzales, crossed the border in 1905 and settled in South El Paso. She worked as a bookkeeper for a wholesale grocer.
Ralph attended Alamo Elementary School and Bowie High School. He was a true Bowie Bear, playing football, boxing in the Golden Gloves tournaments and running the 880 in track.
He enlisted in the Navy and was trained as a gunner’s mate. He served on five ships during World War II.
He was on the minesweeper USS Skylark in April 1944 with the Okinawa invasion force.
“We were sweeping mines just before the invasion when suddenly we struck two mines,” he later told news reporters. “The explosion threw me in the air several feet. When the order came to abandon ship, I jumped into the water and ended up swimming under the flames of a burning oil slick toward a rescue boat, but then ventured back into the flaming waters to pull the ship’s captain, doctor, and a young seaman, all badly burned, to the rescue boat.”
“In all,” his wife Martha said, “he told me he saved 22 persons. Because the records of the rescue were destroyed in a fire, he was never able to be presented the medals which he felt he should have received.”
In July 1950 he went to Korea for 18 months and returned to El Paso in February 1952 with four combat stars. He left the Navy as a petty officer first class.
In 1948, Ralph met Martha Rosales.
“I first saw Ralph when I was 18 years old,” she said. “We lived near each other and one day while he was passing down the street he stopped to talk. In April he asked me for a date, and after three years we were married, June 1, 1952. We have always had a favorite song: ‘Solamente Una Vez,’ (Only one time do you love, do you give your heart).”
In 1952, Ralph’s mother married Ramiro Aguilar, a well-known figure in El Paso and a former constable in Ascarate where he rode a horse while on patrol. Ramiro owned the Thunderbird Gas Station on Alameda Avenue.
“My Dad would stop at the station to get gas for the blue and white Pontiac Catalina,” said Ralph Jr. “We children would run in to see Granny. She would be standing by the cash register with a charm bracelet on her arm and frosted hot-pink nails. She would sweep her arm toward a soda, or a candy bar.”
For a while Ralph and Martha ran a shoe and dry goods store.
“I helped him paint the floor red,” Ralph Jr. said. “He thought of it as his lucky color. Later they had another store which he called ‘Ralph’s Enterprises.’”
From 1952 to 1960 Ralph worked at Fort Bliss as a machinist. In 1960-61 he and his family lived in San Jose, Calif., working for Lockheed Aircraft Co. Then they moved to Permanente, Calif., to work for Kaiser Aluminum.
By 1967 he was ready to start his own notary business in South El Paso. He was a charter member of Segura McDonald VFW Post 5615, LaUnion Catolica Logia de San Jose, Bowie High School Alumni Association and the Elks Lodge.
He died July 10.
Survivors are Martha R Gonzales, his wife of 47 years; sons Ralph Thaddeus Gonzales, Anthony Gonzales and wife Vicki; daughters Martha A. Gonzalez, Rita D. Gonzales-Garcia and husband Dennis, Loretta Gonzales-Asevedo and husband Dennis. Other survivors are six grandchildren; one sister, Hortencia Chavez; one aunt, Rita Hernandez; and one neice, Antonieta Hernandez.
The funeral mass was held at the St. Ignatius Catholic Church in South El Paso with Francisco De Tomasi officiating. Interment was at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
“I will remember my husband as a very loving, honest person who helped many people. He was a true gentleman — very nice to all persons,” Martha said.
Elma Viola Parkinson
An Aug. 20 memorial service was held for Elma Viola Parkinson, who died from complications following surgery. After living 85 years in Scott City, Kan., she had moved to Monte Vista Retirement Home in El Paso.
Her 60 years of dedicated work as a church organist at First Christian Church in Scott City taught her to bring “beauty out of nothing through music.”
Her grandson, Eric, says it this way: “Watching her play the Chopin Preludes was like a window into her soul.”
Her daughter, Carolyn Gough, spoke with emotion about their times of making music together: “Her music and talent kept her mind sharp and it gave her such satisfaction in life. A month before her death she joined me in singing ‘Music of the Night’ from ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ She had trouble speaking, but she could sing. The music of Chopin, was being played the day she died. It was her favorite piece, ‘Raindrop Prelude No. 15 in D flat major.’ Her last breath was taken when the last note of the piece was played.
“She always had a radiant smile and an impish gleam in her eyes,” Carolyn added. “I have been so blessed to have such a great partner through 55 years in Scott City and the two and one half years in El Paso.”
Elma was born Feb. 10, 1911, the second daughter of Lora Belle Filson and Sam Filson. Her parents and grandparents were early settlers of Scott County in western Kansas. She started attending grade school at age 4, went on to high school in Scott City and enrolled in Kansas State University, but left after two years of study in music and piano to marry Henry D. Parkinson. Elma was married Nov. 5, 1930, in the midst of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl days.
“The great black clouds came suddenly,” Carolyn said. “Mother was leading one of her two young sons to the house while carrying the baby on one arm.
The older boy broke loose from his mother’s hand. In just a moment he was lost in the thick dust. She could not see through it and found him only by speaking his name. In spite of her troubles and trials, she always loved the farm, which was two miles from town. She drove the car there almost every day so she could watch the Kansas sunsets. Mother would say that the hardest times of her life were also the happiest.”
She soon became a mother of four — three boys and one girl. Although their home was always Scott City, they engaged in farming, raising cattle, and banking. They chartered, in 1961, the Security State Bank, where Elma was an active board member until her husband’s death in 1977, after 47 years of marriage. She was a member of PEO Sisterhood for 70 years and the Kansas Federated Music Clubs which named her church musician of the year at the April 1984 state convention. She had always been a member of First Christian Church.
When her daughter Carolyn exchanged wedding vows with Dr. David Gough, it was in the little church her grandfather had helped to build.
Elma was 88 when she died July 23. Her husband, Henry D. Parkinson and two sons, Harlan Samuel Parkinson and Henry Filson Parkinson, preceded her in death. She is survived by one son, Leonard Filson Parkinson, and a daughter, Carolyn Jane Gough, 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
One half of her ashes have been sent to a pheasant reserve on the farm. The other half was buried in the Scott City Cemetery. Her memorial service, held in El Paso, took place in McKee Chapel at St. Clement Episcopal Church with the Rev. Ron Thomson officiating.
Her love and influence is reflected in her grandchildren as they reported what her life meant to them.
“She was eager to listen and wisely gave advice, shared jokes with me and we’d laugh out loud — just Grandma and me,” Amy said. “As I grew older I learned from brothers and cousins that this is how she made all of us feel — as if each of us was Grandma’s favorite grandchild.”
“She was a vibrant Grandma who made such an impact on my life,” Valerie said. “She called herself the ‘titular head of the family.’ She gave so much of herself that I think we will all have a part of her with us, forever.”