Clarence Klein, president of the Clay County Pioneer Association, crowned Mrs. Jane Gill Browning as Pioneer Queen of the 83rd Clay County Pioneer Reunion and Rodeo at Tex Rickard Arena Thursday night.
The ceremony took place on the Queen’s Float, built by Don Davis, George Davis, Michael Russell and crew.
Duchesses, representing communities throughout the county, are Voudine Keel of Bluegrove, Willa Almeta McCalip of Dean, Joann Dowdy of Thornberry and Jacquetta Graves of Henrietta.
Queen Martha Jane Browning
Reigning as queen of the 83rd annual Clay County Pioneer Reunion and Rodeo is Martha Jane Browning of the house of Gill. Queen Browning represents the community of Buffalo Springs.
She was born June 8, 1939 in Buffalo Springs, the daughter of Ray and Jettie (Roaers) Gill. Jane attended school in Bellevue and graduated from Bellevue High School. She married J.T. Browning at the First Baptist Church of Bellevue on June 8, 1957. They have three children, Kendall Browning, Angela Browning Wood and Robin Browning Powell. They have six grandchildren; Jared Powell, Whitney Wood, Wesley Wood, Kurtis Browning, Taylor Powell and Kelsey Browning, and three great grandchildren, Chloey Powell, Colt Powell and Brealynn Oliver. All of their children have worked on the dairy with them and continues to help as needed.
Queen Jane and her husband lived in the Dean area while he worked in the Wichita Falls area. They trained and rode horses for the public in the Dean area and helped organize the Dean Riding Club. Early in the 1970’s, they purchased the Jack and Frances Pitts Dairy herd and continued the operation until they moved back to Buffalo Springs where they continued to dairy for 20 years on their own place. J.T. and Jane remain in the cattle business because they still love the outdoors. Jane also has a passion for gardening.
Queen Jane’s interest for the Clay Co. Pioneer Reunion goes back to 1954 when she was a contestant for rodeo queen. She has served on committees including the float judging committee and served as second vice president, where she helped with preparing for the rodeo queen’s dinner, as well as the Pioneer Queen/Duchess Float Committee. She is active at the Rock Church in Buffalo Springs where she has been youth teacher and does office work. She has been secretary/treasurer for the Buffalo Springs Cemetery Association for 20 years and is now the assistant.
Queen Jane considers it a blessing to have lived in Clay County and to raise their children in the great school systems we have. Jane also supported J.T. as he served two terms on the Nine Man Board.
Duchess Voudine Keel
Representing the community of Bluegrove is Duchess Voudine Keel of the house of Cowley.
Duchess Voudine was born Feb. 7, 1933 in Bluegrove to Vernon and Jessie (Coker) Cowley. Duchess Voudine attended grade school in Bluegrove and graduated from Midway High School. She earned a degree from Draughon’s Business College in Wichita Falls. On Aug. 30, 1952, she married William K. “Bill” Keel in the Bluegrove Methodist Church. They have two children; Kenneth Keel and Michael Keel, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Duchess Voudine worked as a bookkeeper for Walgreen’s three years and secretary for the Wichita County Extension Agent for two years. She is a member of the Fairway Baptist Church where she is a Sunday school teacher. She is a member of the Bluegrove Cemetery Association, Clay County Historical Society and Clay County Farm Bureau. She played on the Midway volleyball team. She has served twice as president of the Sunrise Optimist club in Wichita Falls, and as president of the N.C.O. Wives Club.
As an avid bowler, she obtained three first place bowling trophies and was one pen away from bowling a perfect 300 score. A huge fan of George Strait she has seen him perform three times in person. As a military career wife she lived in Tachikawa, Japan for three years.
Duchess Willa Almeta McCalip
Representing the community of Dean is Duchess Willa Almeta McCalip of the house of Terry.
Duchess Willa was born Jan. 14, 1934 in Davenport, Okla., to John C. and Minnie C. (Adams) Terry, and moved to Dean in March of 1960.
Duchess Willa attended Davenport Elementary School, Davenport, Okla., and graduated from high school from Alameda High School in California. She attended Merrit Business School, Oakland, Calif.
Duchess Willa married Billy B. McCalip, Dec. 25, 1953 at Alameda, Calif. They have three children; Evelyn Hill, Billy Ray McCalip and Nita Woodson, and eight grandchildren, Adam Woodson, Ryan Woodson, Amanda Woodson, Julie Hill, Christy Hill, Weston McCalip, Laret McCalip and Addison McCalip, and one great granddaughter, Chandler Kate.
Duchess Willa worked as secretary to Dr. George Davis, Minister of the First Christian Church of Wichita Falls, secretary-treasurer of Red River Cutting Horse Association for three years, treasurer of the Henrietta Cowboy Church for 17 years, adult 4-H leader for the Clay County 4-H Horse Club for 13 years, and secretary for Clay County Pioneer Reunion playdays for four years.
She attends the Henrietta Cowboy Church. She is a member of American Quarter Horse Association, National Cutting Horse Association, Red River Cutting Horse Association and Red River Bluegrass Club. She was voted Mother of the Year at Calvary Assembly of God Church of Wichita Falls in 1980. She enjoyed riding horses in Pioneer Reunion Parades and rodeo grand entries.
Duchess Joann Dowdy
Representing the community of Thornberry is Duchess Joann Dowdy of the house of Fleming.
Duchess Dowdy was born Nov. 28, 1934 in Dalhart to Marvin and Edith (Matthews) Fleming. She moved to Clay County in 1936.
Duchess Joann attended grade school in Thornberry and graduated from Wichita Falls Senior High School. She received a Bachelor of Music with a minor in education from Midwestern State University.
On June 22, 1956 she married C.H. Dowdy at the First Baptist Church of Thornberry. They have three children, Beth Laurence, Lisa Brueggeman and Bill Dowdy, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Duchess Joann worked for 20 years as a substitute teacher in the Wichita Falls School District. She is a member of the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Wichita Musicians Club, a charter member of area Cow Belles — now know as the Cattlewomen, Director of Day Baptist Women at Church for the Wichita, Archer and Clay Baptist Association, Children’s Sunday school teacher, a director of children’s choir and member of adult choir at church for many years.
Duchess Joann’s families of Fleming, Matthews and Dowdy all came to Clay County in the 1800’s.
Duchess Jacquetta Graves
Representing Henrietta is Duchess Jacquetta Louise Graves from the house of Shepherd.
Duchess Jacquetta was born Oct. 10, 1938 in Amarillo to William and Viola (Blake) Shepherd, and moved to Clay County in 1945. Duchess Jacquetta attended Midway grade school and graduated from Midway High School in 1957. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education from Midwestern State University in 1961.
On August 13, 1966 she married the late Alan H. Graves at the First Baptist Church of Henrietta. They have three children, Nala Chambers of Henrietta, Haley Graves of Weatherford and Garen Graves of The Colony, and two grandsons, Connor and Holt Chambers of Henrietta, and one step-grandson Will Beber, and one step-granddaughter, Anna Beth Beber.
Duchess Jacquetta taught three years in Byers, and has taught English at Henrietta High School for 37 years. She is a member of the First Baptist Church of Henrietta, Junior Delphian Club, Delta Kappa Gamma Society and the International Organization for Key Women Teachers. The Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce honored her with Woman of the Year in 1981.
Duchess Jacquetta wrote a script for Clay County Centennial Play, “Rawhide and Ruffles,” in 1973. She also wrote a script for Clay County’s Celebration of Texas’ Sesquicentennial entitled “Denim and Calico” in 1986.