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Howard Gathright '62 February 3, 2021 3:00 PM updated: February 3, 2021 3:02 PM

Howard Allen Gathright
September 02, 1939 - December 12, 2017

Howard Allen Gathright, 78, of Mission Valley, died Tuesday, December 12, 2017 in a farming accident. Howard is survived by his loving wife, Jill; son, Greg, of Wimberley; daughter, Melissa Lyman (Robert), of Victoria; and sister, Margie Hurdle (B.I.), of Victoria.

Howard was born on September 2, 1939 to the late Cecil and Florence Gathright in Victoria. He grew up in a traditional extended family, set in the “good ole days” of play, work, and mischief on Sunday afternoons at their grandmother’s farm in Mission Valley with his sister, Margie and cousins, Jeannette, Sonny, Jimmy, Marvin, and Rueben .

A graduate of Victoria High School in 1958, he was very active in football, baseball, and track. The most important memory though was meeting his high school sweetheart, Jill, and getting married. I doubt there were many who thought this unlikely marriage would last 59 years. The last few years he devoted himself to taking care of Jill as she battles Alzheimer’s Disease. Many hours were spent sitting by her side telling stories of growing up and raising children and grandchildren, while being her cook, driver and caretaker.

The couple had two children, Greg and Melissa, both born in Victoria. They were fortunate to continue the extended family Sunday tradition in Mission Valley with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. In 1968 Howard and Jill started down a new path that lead the family to the Hill Country of Wimberley. Howard became a master farrior in Central Texas for many years and Jill was an elementary school librarian. His love of horses and the outdoors led to steer roping and hauling kids to rodeos and horse racing. In 1991 the couple returned to live on the family farm to be active grandparents for Kelsey and Sarah. From thereon they were known to all as Opa and Omi. The couple started Carriage Rides of Victoria for weddings and special events. Draft horses pulled the big red wagon which was well known in the early stages of “Christmas in the Park” in Cuero, returning once again to love for families, developing friendships and fun. Children as well as adults were drawn to Howard’s soft heart, kindness, long white beard and red shirts with the look and sounds of Santa. He would often get the young one’s attention with “Ho,Ho,Ho – you never know when Santa is watching” to restore perfect behavior on the wagon. Kelsey and Sarah were devoted to Opa for his time and love spent with them on ponies, horses, riding the tractor, inside listening to stories, playing board games, poker, and the infamous going to the store for candy. Until the day of his tragic death, the fun stories continued and Opa said often how much he loved life and would do it all again the same way.

The family is forever thankful for all those who shared their love, compassion, and care for Opa in later life when his health failed him: Ofelia and August Rosales; nurses, Sarah, Luci, Megan, Selina, Linda, Brittany; doctors, Dr. Vu, Dr. Yahagi; family and friends; Pastor Jonathan Meyer; and most importantly, the constant love and devotion of his sister Margie and husband B.I Hurdle.

Funeral service will be held Saturday, December 16, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church of Mission Valley with Pastor Jonathan Meyer officiating. Interment will follow at Mission Valley Community Cemetery. Immediately following the services, family and friends will gather at the Zion Fellowship Hall for the sharing of memories and celebration of Howard’s life.

Pallbearers will include Michael Hurdle, Jimmy Lassmann, Ruben Lassmann, Jason Pace, Dawaine Hankins and Edward Heller. Honorary pallbearers will include B.I. Hurdle, Sonny Lassmann, Ronnie Painter, August and Ofelia Rosales.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Zion Lutheran Church of Mission Valley.

Funeral Service
Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Zion Lutheran Church of Mission Valley
12183 FM 236, Victoria, TX 77905
Victoria, Texas 77905

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