Mary Frances Birdwell, age 94, died Friday, February 20, 2015, in Clayton, New Mexico.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM on Monday, February 23, 2015 at the First United Methodist Church in Clayton, New Mexico with Rev. Robert Hunt and Rev. Billy Rammage officiating. Burial will follow in the Clayton Memorial Cemetery by Hass Funeral Directors of Clayton, New Mexico.
Mary Frances Birdwell was a Texas girl, born on April 9, 1920 in Thalia, Ford County, Texas to Claude Woodfin “Wood” Roberts and Lola P. (Brown) Roberts. As Mary would say, at the age of 11 or 12 she moved to Clayton with her parents and three sisters in 1931 or 1932. Her dad went in business with his nephew, Finis Roberts, running a dairy. Her dad’s older brother, Dan had moved to Clayton earlier. The dairy was where Bob Isaacs built a home and Paul McNaghten lives today. During that year her older sister, Vestula, died from a ruptured appendix at the age of 14. Her dad wouldn’t let any of the girls work and pretty well spoiled them all. Before they left the dairy on the hill he told them to look over there at that big white house with a steeple and a front porch and told them they were going to live there. Within about a year and a half they moved into that big house and dad started a dairy there. Roger and Rebecca Lord live there now. The land that went with the house is where Fort Jordan and the Union County Feed Lot were later built. They lived there from 1934 to the late 1940’s. Mary went through the dust bowl days there. She graduated from Clayton High School in 1938 and married O.W. Brownie Birdwell on August 21, 1938 in the First Methodist Church in Clayton, New Mexico and he preceded her in death on April 29, 1999. They stayed at the dairy where Brownie worked. Billy was born in 1942. They moved to Bellflower, California when he was very small because he had lung problems and it was too dry and dusty here. Brownie’s parents lived there. After four years they moved back to Clayton as Billy was better and Wood wanted his daughter back home. Shirley Lynn was born in 1947 in Clayton. Mary lost another sister, Rheba at age 14 in 1949 also due to a ruptured appendix. Brownie and Mary bought and ran a laundry for a short time then started a new dairy 11 miles west of town after electricity came to Union County. They sold milk to Bordens in Amarillo, Texas and there were about 12 dairies here at that time.Mary was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Clayton and the United Methodist Women’s Love Circle.
In addition to her parents and husband, Mary was preceded in death by 1 daughter; Shirley Lynn (Birdwell) Smith on September 5, 1984 a great-granddaughter; Ashley Lynn Smith on July 2, 1996 and 3 sisters; Ella Vestula Roberts on July 22, 1932, Rheba Blanche Roberts on May 19, 1949, Wyona Jane Taylor on September 20, 2003 and a brother-in-law; Garton Taylor on November 10, 1982.
1 DAUGHTER: Brownell Keeth and her husband Randy of Clayton, New Mexico.
1 SON: Bill Birdwell and his wife Freida of Clayton, New Mexico.
7 GRANDCHILDREN: Rachelle Cruz, Danette Simpson and her husband Sam, Jerra Riley and her husband Solon and Chad Keeth and his wife Amaris all of Amarillo, Texas, Justin Keeth and his wife Lynette and Sondra Miera and her husband J.D. all of Clayton, New Mexico and Larry Smith and his wife Amy of Dalhart, Texas.
MEMORIALS: The family asks that memorials be made to the First United Methodist Church in Clayton or ro Clayton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.