Mary Ruth Patranella
December 4, 1920 – January 29, 2020
Mary Ruth Patranella was born at Edge, Texas, on December 4, 1920, and died January 29, 2020, surrounded by the people who loved her most and knew her best, her children. Her family will receive guests during visiting hours from 5 to 7 pm, Friday, January 31, 2020, at Callaway-Jones Funeral Center. Her Life Tribute Celebration will begin at 10 am, Saturday, February 1, 2020, at Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church, followed by the interment in Bryan City Cemetery. Services are in the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral and Cremation Centers, Bryan-College Station.
Mary Ruth was a strong, independent woman, who grew up on a Brazos County farm. Her parents, Robert and Emma Davidson worked hard, and they taught their five children to do the same. As the eldest child, Mary Ruth learned how to plow behind a horse, how to pick cotton, and set an example for her younger siblings to follow. Hard work invigorated her, and she happily spent her life moving from challenge to challenge, overcoming obstacles that would discourage others.
She attended school in Edge and Bryan, graduating from Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan in 1938. This was followed by classes at McKenzie-Baldwin Business College in Bryan, preparing her for what she thought would be a nice job in an office. But Mary Ruth started her career in 1939 at Texas A&M University counting eggs in the basement of the poultry house for $2 a day. It didn’t take long, though, for her attention to detail and work ethic to be noticed. She began to rise in the ranks, and she worked in some capacity for every dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences until her retirement in 2010, shortly before her 90th birthday. At the time of her retirement, she was the University’s longest-serving staff member, with more than 60 years of service and had been awarded the Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award–Staff (1982) and the President’s Meritorious Service Award (1995). A proclamation was issued by Governor Rick Perry honoring her service to the state of Texas, and she was named by the Texas A&M Board of Regents as Assistant to the Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences Emerita. In recognizing her contributions to the university, a colleague from Texas A&M remarked that Mary Ruth was the “Google” of the College—able to provide context and background of the events of the past 50 years.
Mary Ruth earned well-deserved praise for her long career, but her greatest work was seen in her devotion to her family. On October 18, 1941, Mary Ruth married Sam M. Patranella. They went to Los Angeles during World War II, where she worked for Sears Roebuck while awaiting him to return from the war. After they returned to Bryan, Mary Ruth resumed her work at Texas A&M, and Sam opened a restaurant in downtown Bryan, where Mary Ruth joined him each day during her lunch break. The couple spent 31 wonderful years together before Sam’s untimely death in 1972. The couple were blessed with four children, all of whom graduated from Texas A&M, as did their four grandchildren.
After her father died in 1976, Mary Ruth began yet another challenge, taking over his herd of cattle on the land she inherited from him. She especially looked forward to calving season. It gave her great joy to drive up and see a new calf on the ground, and she kept a log of information on each calf. In the winter after working all day at the university she would go home, change clothes, and drive out to feed her cattle, handling square bales and putting out 50-pound sacks of cubes with ease. She would spend many Saturdays in the country enjoying God’s creation, even if it meant pulling up goat weeds by hand, one at a time. In 2017, Mary Ruth received the Family Land Heritage Award at the State Capitol from the Texas Department of Agriculture; it is a program that honors families who have continuously owned and operated farms for 100 years or more.
Mary Ruth’s reverence and love for all that God created was mirrored in her devotion to her church. Mary Ruth was a founding and lifelong member of Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church in Bryan, and she could be found in one of its pews every Sunday morning. She was a member of the Willing Workers Sunday School class and a member of the City Girls and Country Girls Bible Study.
Mary Ruth is preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Emma Davidson; her husband, Sam M. Patranella; brothers, Douglas Davidson and Robert Duard Davidson; and sister Agnes Buchanan.
Mary Ruth is survived by her children, Sam M. (Pat) Patranella, Jr. ’73 and wife Kari, Kay Patranella Perrone ’74, Jan Patranella ’75, and Mark A. Patranella ’82 and wife Debbie. She is also survived by grandchildren Ashley Patranella Haeuser ’03 and husband Justin, Brent Umstead ’04, Sam Umstead ’07, and Mason Patranella ’11 and wife Kaci ‘12. She also has four great-grandchildren, Henry Haeuser and Kyle, Miles, and Carter Patranella. Additionally, she is survived by her sister, Marjorie Morris and John David Buchanan, a nephew who was like a brother. All who survive her are inspired by her legacy of devotion to God, strength, selfless service, and love of the land. They will miss her but look forward to seeing her again.
Honoring Mary Ruth as pallbearers are Brent Umstead, Sam Umstead, Mason Patranella, Justin Haeuser, Bruce Davidson, and Robert Horton. Serving as honorary pallbearers are Dennis Davidson, John David Buchanan, and Kenneth Patranella.
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