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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mora Boone, 1901-2008

My great-grandmother, Mora Boone, died this week. She was just about to celebrate her 108th birthday. I'm glad I got to spend time with her at her birthday party last Christmas. My great-grandmother saw a lot of things change in her life: just to give one example, she traveled around Texas in a covered wagon when she was little and never flew in an airplane, although she did get to ride in my grandpa's Prius. She was an enthusiastic Internet user for her genealogical research.

A few years ago, she established the Mora Waddell Boone and James L. Boone Sr. '21 President's Endowed Scholarship in the education department at Texas A&M. She took classes at Texas A&M before women were allowed to receive degrees there, so she finished her degree at Sam Houston State Teachers College. From the Aggie Spirit article about her life with my great-grandfather (they were married for 74 years before he died in 1996):
Boone does not lament about not being able to complete her degree at Texas A&M. Instead, she expresses great joy when discussing the university's integration of women in 1963. "The women won at last!" she exclaims.

At 103 years old, this great-great-grandmother dose not miss a beat when discussing her life. It has been filled with the richness of educating students, raising a family and sharing it all with her beloved husband.
The young couple shared a passion for education--both in therms of learning and teaching. James Boone was a member of the Texas A&M class of '21, but he wouldn't receive his degree until 1937. Like many of his fellow cadets, his time at Texas A&M was cut short for service in World War I. Responsibility also called him to the family farm following his father's death. But those circumstances granted him a pleasure that few could enjoy in the 1930s: His wife also was his fellow classmate.

James and Mora Boone began long careers as high school teachers. He taught mathematics and civics courses and served as principal and superintendent. She taught English and then worked as a school librarian. Both served public schools in Lolita, Needville, Houston, and Beasley over 32 years.

I've typed out this tribute to her before, but I like this appreciation by one of her former students from the American Profile in 2002:
Stay in school

As a boy, I worked with my father on Model Ts, Model As, bicycles, tractors--anything that required a wrench--in his blacksmith shop and garage. In the eighth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Mora Boone, stood in front of the class and announced, "If I ever took a trip around the world, I would take (Henry) with me as my mechanic."

My father died when I was 15, and I, being the oldest boy, was about to quit school in Beasley, Texas, and go to work in the gas station to help support my mother and the younger children. Mrs. Boone and her husband, the school principal and superintendent, gave me a maintenance job at the school, so I stayed to graduate.

Mrs. Boone's faith in me influenced my joining the Air Force and completing 33 missions in a B24 bomber as a flight engineer and top turret gunner during World War II. Back in the United States, I continued on in my own business--I had a diesel service and gas station, garage, and towing service in Arizona and Texas.

Mr. and Mrs. Boone both influenced many lives during their years at Beasley.

Henry W. Ellison
Camp Verde, Ariz.

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Anonymous Anonymous on Sun Dec 14, 12:30:00 PM:
This is such a fascinating life story, Alice! I am very sorry for your loss but very happy you have so many great things to say and share about your great-grandmother!