Mary Louise Conklin Monroe, 96 years old, died on December 23, 2020, in Huntsville, Alabama.
She was born on July 5, 1924, to Clarence and Edith Conklin in Hereford, Texas, as one of ten children. She attended school at Hereford School System.
Mary was a young teen when the “Dirty Thirties” occurred. At this time, her family was living on a small farm at Dawn, Texas. Mary told the story of her mother covering the cradle that held her youngest sister, Nellie, with a wet towel to keep the dust off the baby. Every hour, her mother would strike a match and raise the towel to look at baby Nellie. Mary recalled plowing the fields of that farm with a team of horses. One day she got the team stuck in a corner and had to go and get her father to help her.
Mary and Alton Monroe eloped to Clovis, New Mexico, January 25, 1941. Peggy (Mary’s sister) and George Paetzold were the witnesses for the ceremony. She was the mother to three sons (Alvin, Alton Jr. and Alan) and one daughter (Polly). Mary stayed home in Hereford, Texas, during World War II when Alton was drawn into the war as a Navy sailor. At that time, her first son, Alvin, was in the hospital in Amarillo, Texas, with an inoperable heart condition. Mary took a job as a nursing assistant so that she could be close to him. Mary never turned away from a difficult situation and could learn a new task as needed.
The family moved to Spearfish, South Dakota, in 1956 where they farmed, ranched and raised sheep. While in South Dakota, she introduced Mexican food to her neighbors. Mary had family members in Texas mail her canned tortillas, chili powder, and enchilada sauce as these food items were unavailable in South Dakota markets.
They returned to Hereford in 1959 where Mary worked at the J.C. Penney Company as a departmental manager. Alton, Mary and her sons, Alton Jr. and Alan, moved to Cabool, Missouri, in October 1961. They owned many herds of prime dairy cattle, beef cattle and replacement calves. Mary loved to watch the calves play but called them “little devils” when they misbehaved during bottle feeding times. Mary and Alton were dedicated dairy producers. The Monroes were members of Missouri Farmers Association (MFA).
Along with twice-daily milking schedules, Mary and Alton grew hay. Her job in the “making” process was to rake the hay into windrows so that Alton could bail it. Mary could load the hay-lift with square bales faster than a group of high school boys could stack hay into the barns. After their sons and able-body neighbor boys left home, Alton bought a round bailer that eliminated Mary’s tasks of raking. That did not mean that she wasn’t involved in the haying business. Her new job was to move the round bales out of the field and stack it into the designated storage area, usually in a corner or along a fence. Her new Ford tractor ran as many hours in reverse as forward just to complete the hay moving.
Mary loved flowers, pretty plants, green lawns and vegetable gardens. She always planted a beautiful array of plants at all of the homes where she resided. She was always happy to share a starter plant or dried seeds with another gardener and was happy to receive a new plant for her garden. She was thrilled when she got her first riding lawn mower. It saved her time, and she could mow the lawn between her other duties. As her eyesight began to diminish, she was asked how she could still see to mow. She replied, “If I miss it this time, I’ll mow it off next time!”
Mary also loved a good cookie recipe and someone with which to share the cookies. Her freezer was filled with little plastic containers of cookies or pieces of cake with thick frosting. Her homemade donuts were a special treat. Mary was known, especially by her family, for her silver-dollar sized homemade biscuits. Crispy and flaking biscuits served with fried eggs and bacon started every day. Fresh “real” butter, preserves or molasses topped the biscuits and were a treat for all at the table. Her favorite biscuit cutter was a baby-food juice can. Her home was always filled with the smell of fresh coffee and laughter of many friends and family. Her handwritten recipes moved to Dumas with her and now are a treasure to her family.
One of Mary’s dreams was to own the rock house that was along Missouri Highway 63 between Cabool and Houston, Missouri. Her dream came true in 1978, and she lived there until the Missouri Highway Department was planning to run a four-lane highway through her living room! She and Alton then moved to their final home in Missouri just north of the rock house. She lived in the Cabool area until 2015 when she moved to Dumas, Texas, to live with her daughter, Polly Terry. In July 2019, she moved to Alabama where she lived with her son, Alan Ray Monroe and wife Donella.
Mary served as a polling place volunteer/election judge for both county and federal elections for many years. Every morning while her coffee perked, she would write in her diary important facts and notes that provided an eye into her life on the farm. She was grateful for family and friends that filled her life with joy.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Alton; and sons Alvin and Alton Jr.
She was survived by children Alan and wife Donella and Monroe and Polly Terry. Her legacy strives forward with nine grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
Memorial services were held on Friday, March 19, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. at the funeral chapel with Pastor Terry Brown officiating. Inurnment will be in the Cabool Cemetery under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home of Cabool. Online condolences may be made at www.egcfuneralhome.com.
The family suggests donations to your local hospice organization in lieu of flowers.
Since Mary’s death in December 2020, her daughter, Polly, has also died. Polly died January 24, 2021, and is buried in Dumas, Texas.