IN MEMORIAM - JESSIE IRENE BRACEWELL STONE
Jessie Irene Bracewell was born August 14, 1900, the 8th child of William Barto Bracewell and Fannie Shanks Bracewell. When she was a very small child the family moved from the old Bracewell homestead to the nearby small community of Bedias where she lived until her marriage to Leroy Edward Stone on April 20, 1919, a marriage which was to last 68 ½ years.
Roy had quit high school in 1918 to work on the family farm. Roy and Jessie lived for a month or so with his parents after their marriage. Jessie, at the insistence of Roy's father, continued her schooling and graduated from Bedias High School in May 1919 as salutatorian of her class.
As soon as Jessie graduated she and Roy bought a farm-the Strand place-east of Bedias and set up their own household. The land was poor and the work hard. Life was a struggle for them. Sometimes there were excessive rains, sometimes droughts, and always grasshoppers, boll weevils, etc. Their only child, Ada Irene (named for her mother and her paternal grandmother), was born in April 1920.
In 1924 Jessie and Roy together made a major decision: to dispose of the farm and equipment and go to college. Roy's parents had agreed to take care of their then 4-year old daughter. Knowledge that Irene would receive loving care of two grandparents as well as two young aunts reinforced their decision to pursue a college education. So, with only $800 in borrowed money but with great determination, they enrolled at Sam Houston Normal Institute (now Sam Houston State University) at Huntsville. At the end of one year they took the Texas State Teacher's Examination which they passed with flying colors and received their teaching certificates.
Their first teaching assignment was at John Conn, a rural school near Bedias. During that year they repaid the loan of $800. Then they began the routine of teaching fall and spring, and returning to Sam Houston during the summers. After three years at John Conn, they accepted teaching positions at Cross for the next year. However, due to lack of funds which was common to many districts in Texas at that time, the term was cut short, so they returned to Sam Houston for both spring and summer semesters. Following this they spent one year at Sunset and then two years at North Zulch. The following year Roy returned to Sam Houston to complete requirements for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Vocational Agriculture. During this year Jessie taught in Plantersville.
With his degree completed, they returned to Sunset, Roy as Superintendent of the school and Jessie as Home Economics teacher. At the end of two years in administration at Sunset, Roy decided he wanted to work in his field of vocational agriculture. Thus he accepted a position in Mt. Vernon. Jessie finished her Bachelor of Science Degree at Sam Houston, graduation in 1936 with a major in Home Economics and a minor in Sciences.
In 1937 Roy started the Vocational Agriculture program at Sulphur Springs. During the Great Depression schools could not hire two members from one family so Jessie could not teach for several years. However, the approach of World War II changed the rules and she was hired at Sulphur Springs to teach chemistry and biology. During the next ten years Roy continued to work on his Master's Degree in Vocational Agriculture, receiving this degree from Texas A. and M. University in 1944. Later Jessie began her work toward her Master of Science Degree which she completed in 1952 at East Texas State at Commerce. After ten years at Sulphur Springs they moved to Mt. Pleasant where these two outstanding teachers remained for 13 years, retiring on August 14, 1960-Jessie's 60th birthday. She had taught for 30 years, Roy for 35 years.
Although retired from teaching, they found it impossible to retire from working. They had purchased the Stone Hereford Ranch east of Bedias and worked on this ranch the way they had worked all of their married life: from daylight until dark, making it a model cattle ranch. To watch them was to marvel that both were over 60 years of age, and it was a pleasure to observe the joy they radiated as they worked together.
They moved back to Sulphur Springs in 1963, where they engaged in cattle raising until August of 1968, when they moved to Lovelady to be near Roy's mother, Ada Elizabeth Long Stone. In 1955 Roy and Jessie had built her a nice small home in Lovelady. Roy's brother, who lived nearby, had died, and concern for Ada led them to move to Lovelady where they built their last home about two blocks from her. They continued to engage in cattle raising on farms acquired nearby until their mid-70's. Ada died in 1976 two weeks short of her 97th birthday. In the final years of her life Roy and Jessie gave her constant love, companionship and assistance.
Through all the years Roy and Jessie were devout Christians and their devotion to the Lord permeated their lives. Both taught Sunday School classes. Roy began teaching Sunday School in his early 20's and finally-due to health reasons-retired from active church work just after reaching age 85. He was ordained a deacon in the Baptist church at age 37, and often served as a lay preacher. Jessie was his biggest booster and greatest supporter in whatever church related work he chose to do. Each one was the number one booster of the other. They accumulated much in the way of worldly goods, but at the same time they were adding starts to their eternal crowns.
--Condensed from a longer article written by Nita Stone Watson, Roy's sister, at the request of Ada Irene Stone Kaska.