Mary Watson

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Mary Watson

Mary Watson On July 8, 1929, on a farm outside of Hollister, Oklahoma, Mary was born into the large and loving family of Pearl and Oral Ballard that was to be her greatest treasure and source of support for her entire life. From her first day in school, she discovered great joy in learning and graduated as valedictorian from Hollister. During this time, she was active in 4-H, receiving 4-H leadership awards and countless blue ribbons for her many projects, eventually becoming a national 4-H leadership award winner, as well as playing varsity basketball, which fostered a lifetime love of that sport. She was active in the First Christian Church, serving as Sunday school secretary and singing in the choir.
She attended Oklahoma A & M, now OSU, financing her education herself with scholarships and working as the office manager during the summers managing the office of the elevator company in Hollister. She graduated in 1951 with a BS in Home Economics Education with high honors, and was a member of Mortar Board, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Upsilon Omicron. She was also honored to be chosen a Danforth Leadership participant.
She began her career teaching in Hugo, Oklahoma, and then realized another of her goals when she accepted a position as the assistant home demonstration agent in Grady County and moved to Chickasha. One evening, after attending a movie, a young farmer struck up a conversation with the tall, bespectacled Mary, and Dale Watson and Mary Ballard were married two months later, loving each other and supporting each other devotedly for the next 59 years. They began married life in Walters, Mary working as the home demonstration agent for Cotton County, until moving back to Grady County to take over the Watson farm outside of Dutton, where daughters Karen and Beth were born.
After Dale began to struggle with his health, they began their next big adventure when they moved to Tucson and she began work on her Masters in Education at the University of Arizona and continued to teach in Coolidge, Arizona. After Dale's health improved, they moved their family back to Oklahoma, and Mary once more taught in Altus before an extension agent position opened in Hugo.
Dale's career then moved them back to Texas, where Mary became the extension agent-at-large of several counties in the Big Bend region, traveling and promoting better nutrition for economically disadvantaged families. Moving back to Tucson, Mary completed her coursework for her Masters while teaching tailoring classes at University of Arizona, whereupon she accepted the district agent position supervising the home economics and 4-H programs for the thirteen counties around San Angelo, as well as being director of the Texas A & M Research Center. She retired in 1980, and Mary and Dale moved back to Chickasha where they enjoyed spending time with family and friends and where she once more became part of Grady County Extension, but this time as a club participant. She continued to enjoy her lifelong habits of reading, cooking, sewing, needlework, and watching sports with Dale and her brothers.
Mary and Dale left Chickasha when they decided they would like to be near to their grandsons, Ragan and Kevin, and they enjoyed watching them participate in tennis and soccer, taking great pride in their academic achievements as well. She became quite tech savvy for an oldster, learning to Skype so she could talk to her grandsons in China and Turkey, and avidly read the Washington Post daily on her kindle.She loved participating in each Ballard Reunion, helping to pass on a love of storytelling, history, and family to everyone in her family. She maintained her strong love of learning and interest in national and world affairs into her eighty-ninth year. From a family of pioneers, she was a pioneer of her time.
Mary will be greatly missed by her daughters, grandsons, and her many nieces and nephews. She was an excellent exemplar of strength, honor, and responsibility. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dale, her parents, and her five brothers and two sisters.
Services were held at the McRay Funeral Home Chapel, Monday, December 3, at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice House of Burleson, Tex., at 301 Medpark Cir., Burleson, TX 76028.
Published on December 5, 2018
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