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In Memoriam ...

Asa Betts Fitch, 93, Las Cruces, passed from this earth on March 8, 2014. He was born May 8, 1920 in Hachita to Albert J. and Frances Young Fitch. Asa graduated from Hachita High School then served his country in the United States Army Air Corps and received an honorable discharge. During his time in the service he met and fell in love with Geraldine Allen and they married on February 4, 1944. Asa and Jerry are members of Saint James Episcopal Church and enjoy many friends there. As a young man Asa worked cattle ranches in remote areas of New Mexico. After receiving his Master’s Degree in secondary education at Western New Mexico College in Silver City, he began his career in the field of education in New Mexico and Arizona for many years. Survivors include his loving wife of seventy years, Geraldine Allen Fitch; daughter, Linda Helfrich (husband, Donald) Mountain Home, Arkansas; grandson, Ken Sweetser, Springfield, Missouri; brother, Archer Fitch, Florida; as well as numerous nieces and nephews .

Dr. Alan P. Thal, MD, 88, Golondrinas, passed away on Friday, March 14, 2014. He was born on July 15, 1925 in Cape Town, South Africa to Alexander Thal and Bess Clouts. He was united in marriage with Felicia Jacobs on December 14, 1949 in Durban, South Africa. He is survived by his wife Felicia Thal of the family; daughter: Alyson P. Thal, MD, Corrales; sons: John S. Thal (wife, Gayla), Albuquerque; Doug O. Thal, DVM, (wife, Kristin), Santa Fe; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; and caregivers: Randy and Monica Taylor; Richard Lau. Dr. Thal earned his Medical Degree at the University of Cape Town, South Africa in December 1949. He did his internship at Cornell University in pathology 1950-1951 and another internship at John’s Hopkins 1952-1953 in surgery. He completed his residency in surgery at the University of Minnesota, where he also finished as a Ph.D. He was a member of the original Open Heart Team at the University of Minnesota from 1953-1960. He then moved to Detroit, Michigan where he became chairman of the Department of Surgery at Wayne State University continuing his research. This culminated in his well-known book published in 1971, Shock, A Physiologic Basis for Treatment. He then moved on to the University of Kansas Medical Center where he was professor of surgery and obtained research grants from the NIH and the National Academy of Science. His extensive research in thoracic and esophageal surgery led to the publication of over 150 publications from 1966 to 1972. In 1972, Dr. Thal developed an interest in ranching and raising purebred Hereford cattle, so he searched for a location where he could ranch and raise cattle, as well as serve as the local surgeon. They bought a ranch outside of Las Vegas where he ultimately served as a surgeon from 1972 to 1994. So many families were touched by the high quality surgery he was able to provide to Las Vegas. In 1994, Dr. Thal was forced to retire after a serious illness, but continued his research and invented several new surgical instruments and procedures which still bear his name.

Pat Lee, Lovington, passed away on February 17, 2014. Pat was born on January 17, 1934 to Jim and Ethel Fields, in Hobbs. As a young girl, Pat enjoyed spending time on the ranch of her grandparents Durer and Seabron Alston a pioneering family of Lea County. Pat loved horses – she participated in barrel racing and cutting as a young girl. After graduating high school in Midland, Texas, Pat attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri and Texas Christian University. Soon after her college experiences, she began her career as an Airline Hostess with Continental Airlines. While working at Continental, she obtained her private pilot license. On October 12, 1961 Pat and Bill Lee were united in marriage in Denver City, Texas. They then moved to their ranch at Caprock where Bill ranched. Here they began their family. In 1968 they moved from Caprock to their ranch at Buckeye (New Mexico) with their three children Lane, Missy and Randy. After moving to Lovington, Pat worked towards and obtained her degree in Interior Design. Soon thereafter, Bill began his successful bid for State Senate where Pat worked diligently and side by side as she always did for him and her entire family. Bill wasn’t the only civic minded person in the family; Appointed by Governor Bruce King, Pat served on the State Personnel Board. She is survived by her husband Bill Lee, son Lane Lee, Las Vegas, Nevada; daughter Missy (husband, Bobby) Belz, Lovington; son Randy Lee, Dallas; a granddaughter; sister  Priscilla (husband, Reed) Gilmore, Midland; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Memorial Contributions be made to Lovington Autism Center for Education and Services – PTO – PO Box 1054, Lovington, New Mexico 88260.

Tim W. Harkness, 61, Raton, passed away on February 22, 2014 in Dallas. He was born June 6, 1952 in Raton, NM, the son of Donald L. and Virginia Smith-Harkness. Tim was a life-long rancher, a graduate of Trinidad State Jr. College and Texas Christian University ranch management program. He was a member of the Allan Savory Ranch Management Program, David Pratt Ranching for Profit, a founding member of the Northern New Mexico Holistic Ranching Pioneers, and served on the board of the Colfax County Soil & Water Conservation District. He is survived by his wife Roberta of the home, one step-son James Castillo, Buena Vista, CO, one step-daughter Victoria Sintas (husband, Jessie), Pueblo, Colorad, two sisters Pam Harkness, Raton and Patricia Maez, Dalhart. One brother, Daniel Harkenss, Abilene; two nieces and one nephew; two aunts Margaret Heringa, Raton and Ruth Ann Harkness. Bandera, TX; numerous cousins and a wide circle of friends.

Jerry Ray Cates, 89, Roy, passed away on January 9, 2014. The angels were smiling and slapping their knee when they welcomed Mrs. Jerry Ray through the pearly gates. The matriarch of the Ray family with the larger than life personality spent her entire life in Harding County. A ranch wife and avid hunter, she worked hard and played harder. With a twinkle in eye, her escapades seem to grow in size with each passing year. The memories made will be cherished, and even though our hearts ache, we know that when riding the canyons or chasing the lion with the hounds, “Grandma Jerry” will be right there in the mix. With a heart of gold, she had prepared the following obituary prior to her death: Geraldine “Jerry” Cates Ray passed away January 9, 2014. Her ashes will be scattered over the Ray Ranch Canyon west of Roy, following a private family memorial. Jerry was born 6 miles west of Mills, New Mexico on July 25, 1924 to Roy and “Ma Sally” Cates. She attended grade school in Mills, New Mexico, high school in Roy, New Mexico, and college at Las Vegas, New Mexico. She met and married George H. Ray Jr. on December 8, 1944, and was blessed with one daughter, Donna Ray, and two sons George H. “Dusty” Ray III and Joe Roy Ray. Jerry was a real ranch woman that loved her family and felt blessed that they were all near her doing ranch work. She was an avid big game hunter. Her sons Dusty and Joe Ray and brothers Jack and Johnny Cates had a hard time keeping up with her. She was a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’, charter member of New Mexico CowBelles, past member of Eastern Star Mitpah Chapter 47 of Roy, New Mexico, Roy School Board, sponsor for Roy High School FFA and Cheerleaders, and American Legion Auxiliary. She was a member of a Country Western Band, “The Gloom Chasers” that broadcast over KFUN Radio Station in Las Vegas, New Mexico, during the early 1940s. Jerry was the lead singer and fiddle player at all the dances at Rigoni Ballroom, fair dances, and the Farley Gym. She is survived by her daughter Donna Ray, granddaughter Senesa Stinebaugh, great-granddaughter Sariana Grossetete, son Dusty Ray and wife Sandy, granddaughter Wendy and husband Trey Miller, great-grandsons Jayden, Brenden, Talen and Quinn Miller, grandson Rocky Pryor Ray, son Joe Roy Ray and wife Jeannine, brother Johnny Cates and wife Janet, and many nieces and nephews. Jerry was preceded in death by her husband George H. Ray Jr., her parents Roy and “Ma Sally” Cates, sister Pat Moore, and brother Jack Cates.

Editor’s Note: Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Memorial donations may be sent to the Cattlegrowers’ Foundation, a 501(c)3, tax deductable charitable foundation serving the rights of ranch families and educating citizens on governmental actions, policies and practices. Cattlegrowers Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 7517, Albuquerque, NM 87194. The New Mexico Stockman runs memorials as a courtesy to its readers. If families & friends would like to see more detail, verbatim pieces must be emailed to us, & may be printed at 10¢ per word.