Ranger Exes Memorial - RHS Class of 1935 RJC

MATTIE BERYL MONTGOMERY EVANS was a lawyer in Tulia & died there on June 7, 1995. She married Burrell Evans and at the time of her death, she was living in Tulia, TX. She had a son Gerald Evans. Her brother, Garland Montgomery was also in the Ranger High School Class of 1935 at Ranger, TX & while serving during a campaign in WWII was lost and never found. Excerpts follow from the late Johnnie Fay Patterson Smith's autobiographical family history, No Crystal Stair as provided by Charles C. Chaney of Cleveland, Ohio (originally from Bell County, TX). Mrs. Smith was a friend and housemate of Mattie Beryl Montgomery and Avis McKelvain (both RHS Class of 1935) while they were students at Baylor (and later). “When I returned to 609 Dutton in Sept. of 1937, I found that two new girls had moved into the bedroom across the kitchen from me. Avis McKelvain and Mattie Beryl Montgomery were former students at Ranger Junior College. Mattie was a freshman law student and Avis was a speech major who was to be a part of Professor Glenn Capp’s very successful debate teams. Both girls were friendly and we soon worked out an arrangement where I sometimes shared meals and kitchen chores with them. In the months that followed, I met their parents, Mattie’s brother, Garland, who was a student at TCU; and Avis’ brothers, J.H. (RHS-1940) & John (RHS-1943), who were still in high school. And I met their boy friends. Among their many male friends my favorites were two of Avis’ suitors, Steve Preslar (RHS-1936), whom she later married, and Teddy Wickens....... Not all the strong personalities at 609 Dutton were mature women. My suite mates also influenced me. For the first time in my Baylor days, I began to feel that I might make some friends. Although at the start, I did not feel entirely at ease with Avis and Mattie Beryl. I soon felt that they treated me as an equal. I admired Mattie Beryl because she seemed to have an indomitable will to succeed in the law, a field then not overrun with females. There was no doubt that she was brilliant. I felt that she would be more than a match for the men in the department. Mattie had a wonderful smile and an outgoing personality. Avis was a member of a prize-winning debate team and also excelled in oratory and extemporaneous speaking. I wondered if Avis really felt at ease with acting and oral interpretation, but when the time came for her senior speech recital, she chose the very difficult Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. I thought that choice showed real courage and flair for she could have chosen something much less demanding. "At the beginning of my senior year Mattie moved into a dorm and I shared a room with Avis. A few months later Verna Baker moved into my former room. Verna was cheerful and optimistic. We were soon close friends. Verna’s mother reminded me of my own mother. She was a determined lady who seemed to have a spirit of hope that spurred me on. Avis, Mattie, and Verna turned out to be true-blue friends. We may not see each other for ten or fifteen years, but always we immediately feel the old closeness. As I expected, they all grew to be wonderful women, each strong and successful in her own chosen field and life style. I’m proud that through fifty years we have loved and respected each other.”