In Memoriam

In Memoriam…

John Van Sweden, 64, Raton, passed away December 13, 2011. He was born June 6, 1947, in Tucumcari, the son of Jacob and Ruth Bell-Van Sweden. John was a man of many talents. He never knew there was anything he couldn’t do. Besides being a successful cattle rancher, hunting guide and farmer he made the best banana nut bread, oatmeal cookies and cherry pie around. John was always willing to answer God’s call to community or church service. He worked tirelessly yet had time for popcorn and Bugs Bunny or Hogan’s Heroes with the grandchildren. Many local children called him “Granddad.” Through the years, John stepped up to the challenge of being the legal guardian to several teenagers other than his own. His pick-up truck or home were always open to some young boy without a father image in their lives. John was extremely active in the state and national agricultural community serving as President of teh New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau for 10 years, which included service on the American Farm Bureau Federation Board as well as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Board. He is survived by his wife Christy; one daughter, Misty Richey (husband, Jim); one son, Jason John Van Sweden (wife, Viviann) all of Raton; three sisters, Mary Wivoet (husband, Gerrity), Oakland, Illinois; Janie Trent (husband, Butch), Mesa, Arizona; and Jackie Sheare (husband, Dan), Manvel, Texas; three brothers, Robert Van Sweden (wife, Jackie), Tucumcari; Ralph Van Sweden, Raton; and Joe Van Sweden (wife, Melinda) Cottonwood, California; and seven grandchildren.

Kayci Ann Houghtaling, 7, Artesia, passed away December 3, 2011 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. Kayci was born February 2, 2004 in Roswell, New Mexico; the daughter of Ty Houghtaling and Jennifer Needham Houghtaling. She was a second grade student at Yeso Elementary and member of Hermosa Drive Baptist Church. Her life revolved around church, family, and innocent adventures. Her brothers were her best friends. Survivors include her parents Ty and Jennifer Houghtaling and two brothers Clay and Cael, grandparents Jerry and Twyla Houghtaling, Artesia; Lewis and Susan Needham, Lake Arthur; great-grandparents JR and Boxie Houghtaling, Bonnie Williams, Leonard and Eva Ann Witcher, and aunts and uncles, Joby and Pam Houghtaling, Jeff and Jennifer Houghtaling, all of Artesia and Corey and Robin Needham, Hobbs, as well as numerous cousins.

Verleen LoRee Atchley, 75, Clayton, died on October 28, 2011. She was born April 13, 1936, on the family farm near Oakley, Kansas, to Ray Nye and Velma Lora Brittain Nye. She married Leland Ansley in 1951 in Oakley, and they had four children. They divorced in 1974. She married Gene Atchley in 1981. Varleen was very involved in many organizations including Phi Beta Kappa sorority; Federated Women’s Club; Clayton Arts Council, where she served as a president for 20 years; and the Lariat CowBelles, where she was in charge of decorating for the Five States Cowbelles convention for several years. She received the award for artist of the year in 1977 and was honored in 2008 by the mayor of Clayton certifying Oct. 3 as Varleen Atchley Day. Survivors include her husband, Gene, Clayton; two daughters, Vickie Lynn Seegrist, Westminster, Colorado, and Christina Dawn Ansley, Poplar Bluff, Missouri; a son, Brian Lee Ansley , Clayton; three step-daughters, Durga Deason ( husband, Dan) Grenville Janell Wiley and (husband, Jack) Clayton, and Leann Poling (husband, Barry) Texline; a sister, Shirley Benda, Tucson; four grandchildren; eight step-grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; a great-great-grandchild; and 12 step-great-grandchildren.

Jimmy Weldon Wynn, 77, Carlsbad, passed away November 29, 2011 in Lubbock. He was born in the Bridle Bit Community near Turkey, Texas on January 2, 1934, to Fletcher “Pete” and Erma Wynn. Jim graduated from Turkey High School in 1952 and began to work on some of the large Texas Panhandle ranches, including the Lewis’, the JA and the Matador. He married Barbara June Geissler, also of Turkey, on September 3, 1954 after which he served two years in the U.S. Army. After military service Jim and June moved to Carlsbad, New Mexico where he began his 40-year career as a lineman with Southwestern Public Service Company. Jim enjoyed horses, hunting and camping with his children and grandchildren. Jim continued to practice the cowboy skills of his youth well into his seventies and was an inspiration to all. He was a member of the Blodgett Street Baptist Church. Jim is survived by his wife, Barbara, and one daughter, Jima Wynn, Millsap, Texas, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, four sisters, numerous nieces and nephews and an abundance of close friends.

Virginia Lee Phillips, 89, of Amarillo, Texas, died December 21, 2011. She was born Oct. 24, 1922, in Vernon, Texas. World War II was in full swing when Virginia met Elliott (Chope) Phillips in 1943. After Chope was discharged from the military, he purchased a ranch near Las Vegas, N.M., before marrying Virginia in 1947. The state capitol in Santa Fe was close enough for Virgina to foster a special interest in New Mexico politics, and she was not bashful about letting state politicians know how she felt about various issues over the years. She was instrumental in creating and maintaining the Waite and Genevieve Phillips Foundation with proceeds from the Phillips estate. The foundation has provided financial support for numerous non-profit entities in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, including Philmont Boy Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico, and Philbrook Art Museum in Tulsa. Virginia was the recipient of many awards and recognitions for her philanthropic activities and interests. Such interests led to her involvement the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, the Philbrook Art Museum, the MD Anderson Cancer Center Visitors Board of Directors, the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum Collection Committee and the Amarillo Medical Center Board. Mrs. Phillips is survived by her husband of 64 years, Chope; daughter, Julie Phillips Puckett; son, John Phillips (wife, Tammy), all of Amarillo; two grandchildren and numerous friends.

John David Graham, 67, Des Moines, died December 26, 2011 in Plano, Texas. He was born to Claude R. Graham and Ruth (Baldwin) Graham on November 23, 1944, in Socorro. He attended schools in Datil and Magdalena and graduated from New Mexico State University (NMSU) College of Agriculture in 1968. In August 1965 he married Midge (York) and they began their careers together in areas of education. David taught vocational agriculture at Des Moines High School; then served at the New Mexico Department of Education as a vocational agriculture specialist/state supervisor. In August 1973 he started with the Cooperative Extension Service as the Agricultural Agent in Union County. He loved his county and its people; and he was absolutely committed to agriculture, 4-H and FFA programs, cattle ranching and range management in Union County and statewide. He committed his real focus to research of noxious weeds, range pests, and pesticide management for many years. He co-authored many scientific papers, working collaboratively with research specialists at NMSU and the US Department of Agriculture Poisonous Plants Lab in Logan, Utah. He is survived by his wife, Midge; son Kevin, Plantersville, Texas; daughters Wendy (husband, Cory) Fulfer, Jal, and Stacy Graham, McKinney, Texas, and daughter-in-law, Beth Graham, Spring, Texas. He leaves behind eight “perfect grandchildren.” Also surviving is his brother Lee (wife, Bonnie) Graham, Raton and his sister, Ellen (husband, Don) Hiles, Alamogordo; as well as numerous aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.

Editor’s Note: Please  send In Memoriam announcements to: Caren Cowan, N.M. Stockman, P.O. Box 7127, Albuquerque, NM 87194, fax: 505/998-6236 or email: 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.