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Relatively Speaking: 90th birthday is milestone for family's matriarch

July 14, 2010 at 2:14 a.m.

Mary Jones, center, recently celebrated her 90th birthday with family and friends. Also pictured are brother Bob Matthews,  from Missouri, and sister Tina Pitzer, from Florida.

By Martha Jones BY Martha JonesRecently, the Jones family celebrated the 90th birthday of its matriarch, Mary Louise Matthews Jones. A milestone to be sure.

This lady has experienced many years of history as her father served in World War I; her husband enlisted, but was denied military service in World War II because of flat feet; the Korean War, where family members served; Vietnam, when her firstborn son barely missed U.S. Army military action and her second son was deferred because of his college enrollment; the Gulf War, when her doctor and friends' grandsons served their country; and now, the war in Afghanistan, as her grandson serves in the Texas Air National Guard, as a Loadmaster on C-130s.

Yes, she has lived through the 20's, the Depression era, the war years and the turn of the century as she and her husband, O.D., lovingly worked together three sons and a daughter: Don, Kenneth, Norman and Marian.

Born in Granola, Okla., her parents' lineages trace back to Matthews, who fought in the War of 1812 in North Carolina, received a bounty land grant in Illinois and then headed south into Kansas and finally Oklahoma, where they were part of the Twin Territories before Oklahoma became a state. One of her maternal ancestors, Robert Lee Gipson, lived to be 113 years old. Another branch of her family, the Bannings, traces its lineage back to the American Revolution in Maryland, where a park with a memorial marker stands in his memory. As you can see, someone has been busy researching her family tree.

And what are her accomplishments other than being a fine wife and mother?

After helping O.D. with the Stop and Shop on Rio Grande when it was still a boulevard, she decided to take accounting courses at the Victoria College. She was then hired as head accountant for the Victoria Independent School District and remained in this position for 28 years, until her retirement in 1985.

Another facet of Mary Louis Matthews Jones' life is her deep abiding Christian faith and religious activities. She was active for many years in the Women's Missionary Union, church choir, Sunday School, numerous church committees, and served as a deacon's wife in the Baptist church. Two friends recently told me, "When we visit Mary, she cheers us up rather than us cheering her." Her outlook on life has always been one that looks for the best and often ignores that which is not."

At her 90th birthday party, friends and family came from as far away as Missouri and Florida. Her grandsons and long-time friends shared fond memories from years past and Marian read beautiful poems Mary wrote through the years about her family - poems we have never heard.

A significant birthday card was received from C. O'Hara Chandler, VISD's superintendent and friend during Mary's tenure. Now 102, he remembered the many poems Mary wrote for him and his family through the years.

Birthdays are always special, but your 90th and even 102nd? Those are milestones.

Happy Birthday, Mary Jones. Happy Researching.

E-mail genealogy queries to mjones@vicad.com. VCGS members will research queries requiring extensive study.

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