Mary Ruth Patranella

Mary Ruth Patranella
December 4, 1920 – January 29, 2020

Mary Ruth Patranella was born at Edge, Texas, on December 4, 1920, and died January 29, 2020, surrounded by the people who loved her most and knew her best, her children. Her family will receive guests during visiting hours from 5 to 7 pm, Friday, January 31, 2020, at Callaway-Jones Funeral Center. Her Life Tribute Celebration will begin at 10 am, Saturday, February 1, 2020, at Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church, followed by the interment in Bryan City Cemetery. Services are in the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral and Cremation Centers, Bryan-College Station.

Mary Ruth was a strong, independent woman, who grew up on a Brazos County farm. Her parents, Robert and Emma Davidson worked hard, and they taught their five children to do the same. As the eldest child, Mary Ruth learned how to plow behind a horse, how to pick cotton, and set an example for her younger siblings to follow. Hard work invigorated her, and she happily spent her life moving from challenge to challenge, overcoming obstacles that would discourage others.

She attended school in Edge and Bryan, graduating from Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan in 1938. This was followed by classes at McKenzie-Baldwin Business College in Bryan, preparing her for what she thought would be a nice job in an office. But Mary Ruth started her career in 1939 at Texas A&M University counting eggs in the basement of the poultry house for $2 a day. It didn’t take long, though, for her attention to detail and work ethic to be noticed. She began to rise in the ranks, and she worked in some capacity for every dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences until her retirement in 2010, shortly before her 90th birthday. At the time of her retirement, she was the University’s longest-serving staff member, with more than 60 years of service and had been awarded the Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award–Staff (1982) and the President’s Meritorious Service Award (1995). A proclamation was issued by Governor Rick Perry honoring her service to the state of Texas, and she was named by the Texas A&M Board of Regents as Assistant to the Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences Emerita. In recognizing her contributions to the university, a colleague from Texas A&M remarked that Mary Ruth was the “Google” of the College—able to provide context and background of the events of the past 50 years.

Mary Ruth earned well-deserved praise for her long career, but her greatest work was seen in her devotion to her family. On October 18, 1941, Mary Ruth married Sam M. Patranella. They went to Los Angeles during World War II, where she worked for Sears Roebuck while awaiting him to return from the war. After they returned to Bryan, Mary Ruth resumed her work at Texas A&M, and Sam opened a restaurant in downtown Bryan, where Mary Ruth joined him each day during her lunch break. The couple spent 31 wonderful years together before Sam’s untimely death in 1972. The couple were blessed with four children, all of whom graduated from Texas A&M, as did their four grandchildren.

After her father died in 1976, Mary Ruth began yet another challenge, taking over his herd of cattle on the land she inherited from him. She especially looked forward to calving season. It gave her great joy to drive up and see a new calf on the ground, and she kept a log of information on each calf. In the winter after working all day at the university she would go home, change clothes, and drive out to feed her cattle, handling square bales and putting out 50-pound sacks of cubes with ease. She would spend many Saturdays in the country enjoying God’s creation, even if it meant pulling up goat weeds by hand, one at a time. In 2017, Mary Ruth received the Family Land Heritage Award at the State Capitol from the Texas Department of Agriculture; it is a program that honors families who have continuously owned and operated farms for 100 years or more.

Mary Ruth’s reverence and love for all that God created was mirrored in her devotion to her church. Mary Ruth was a founding and lifelong member of Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church in Bryan, and she could be found in one of its pews every Sunday morning. She was a member of the Willing Workers Sunday School class and a member of the City Girls and Country Girls Bible Study.

Mary Ruth is preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Emma Davidson; her husband, Sam M. Patranella; brothers, Douglas Davidson and Robert Duard Davidson; and sister Agnes Buchanan.

Mary Ruth is survived by her children, Sam M. (Pat) Patranella, Jr. ’73 and wife Kari, Kay Patranella Perrone ’74, Jan Patranella ’75, and Mark A. Patranella ’82 and wife Debbie. She is also survived by grandchildren Ashley Patranella Haeuser ’03 and husband Justin, Brent Umstead ’04, Sam Umstead ’07, and Mason Patranella ’11 and wife Kaci ‘12. She also has four great-grandchildren, Henry Haeuser and Kyle, Miles, and Carter Patranella. Additionally, she is survived by her sister, Marjorie Morris and John David Buchanan, a nephew who was like a brother. All who survive her are inspired by her legacy of devotion to God, strength, selfless service, and love of the land. They will miss her but look forward to seeing her again.

Honoring Mary Ruth as pallbearers are Brent Umstead, Sam Umstead, Mason Patranella, Justin Haeuser, Bruce Davidson, and Robert Horton. Serving as honorary pallbearers are Dennis Davidson, John David Buchanan, and Kenneth Patranella.

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  1. Dear Jan,

    Our deepest condolences to you and your family during this time. Your mother was an amazing woman. There is no one in this world like your mother. She will truly be missed.

    You and your families are in our prayers.

    Take care,

    Kevin & Crystal Sun

  2. Aunt Mary Ruth was an admirable woman with the most beautiful smile and easy laugh. She brought great joy and will certainly be missed. I pray for those she left behind and trust in God’s care.

  3. Our condolences & heartfelt sympathy to Mary Ruth’s family and friends. She was a great lady and will be sorely missed by all that knew her.

  4. Pat,
    I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom. What an amazing woman and amazing life she had! We are praying for you and your family.
    Wade & Holly

  5. Jan, your mom lived a long life filled with service to others in so many ways! You are so lucky to have had such a mother! Asking that Spirit and Christ Jesus surround your family with powerful Love and Light as you say good-by, for now, to your mother. We will all meet again…Paula Lenz

  6. Dear Jan,

    Although I never had the privilege of meeting your mother, I feel that I have known her through the life of my Grandmother Bernice. The stories that we shared about them are reminders of how I believe the Lord intended for us to live this life that He blesses us with. Loving Him, sharing that love in service and love for others and being thankful and good stewards of His blessings that He gives. What a wonderful heritage and legacy she leaves, but what a joyful welcome she has received into the arms of Christ. Pray that you know the peace and comfort of the Lord during this time and that you lean into His loving grace and mercy.

    Keith Francis

  7. To the Patranella family, im truly and deeply sorry for the loss of your mother, man was she a tuff woman! Im glad to have know Mrs. Patranella for the time that i did know you, and we had a personal bond, you were indeed one of my favorites! Weve shared many stories, and whwn i look at the ATM games, i will think of you!!! You were a wonderful mother, and raised some wonderful children, all 4 of them, and i will keep in contact with the girls. I want you to enjoy your new mansion dance with your husband, and make up for missed time, hug Miriam for me, boy i know that was a reunion!! I love you lady, God rest in peace, i know that you are, and we will ALL meet again one day, peek on our plot and see if its a 2 or 3 story, i want a big back yard, and hug our little one that we lost in 2015, may she/he be in your arms untiil we see them again, LOVE ALWAYS, Aminah MIMI Collette

  8. Kay and Jan —
    What a legacy your parents left – 4 children, 4 grandchildren all A&M graduates and all
    very successful. Indeed you were blessed to have had them for your parents and the
    work ethic and church faithfulness examples your mother set are rarely, if ever, seen anymore these days. They were of the same era as my parents. The greatest gift she left is the
    assurance that you all will see them both again some day.
    Mike and Lynette

  9. Dear Jan,

    My condolence and sympathy to you and your family. May your mother be in the blessed rest of everlasting peace and may the necessary grief of those she leaves behind be gradually and naturally transformed into liberation, release and freedom for the nurturing of true love. May God be with you and your family.

    Ronnie Baker

  10. Dear Jan Patranella
    I can’t help but feel sad at the unexpected sad news. I’m sorry that I couldn’t attend the funeral in honor of the deceased. I console you with great sadness.

  11. Dear Family of Mary Ruth, I enjoyed working with your Mother for five years, getting to know her, and occasionally going with her to feed her cows. I am very saddened by this news, and I want to offer my sincerest sympathy to you for your loss. Mary Ruth was a great woman, and I’m blessed to have known and worked with her.

  12. Although I never knew her, I remember my folks, Oren & Inez (Broadus) Wilson speaking fondly of her. Actually as a Davidson, she may have been kin to Daddy. May the Lord comfort you all & give you His peace

  13. Pat, my prayers are with you and your family in the loss of your Mom. I was simply amazed reading all of her accomplishments. I think it is more than safe to say “They don’t make them like that anymore!”
    May you be forever blessed by her memory and the joyful moments you shared together.

  14. Dear Patranella Family, Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your mother with the rest of the world. She was a mentor to many, an example of a Godly woman, and loyal as a friend to the least of us. Always a smile. God be with you and place His Peace and Grace upon each of you as you adjust to your lose. Herbie and Donna Richards

  15. I had the opportunity to work with Mary Ruth from 2005 to 2008. Her loyalty to the College of Agriculture and the University was unmatched. She was very knowledgeable about the history of the College and its traditions. I have great memories of my times with her. She always enjoyed talking about her cattle. My condolences to her family.

  16. Please accept our sincere sympathy at the passing of your Mom. She was a GREAT lady & you were blessed to call her Mom. I was honored to work w/her for 3+ yrs when she was secy to Dean Kunkel & I secy to DR Potts at which time we officed together in the System building. I am pleased I learned of her recent death & was privileged to read her obit. May God keep ea of you N his care at this sad time.

  17. I wa saddened by the passing of mrs Mary. She was a very nice person. I worked in their restaurant when I was a
    Teenager until I graduated from high school. She and her
    Husband were both nice people.oo

  18. Mark & Debbie I am so sorry for the loss of your mom, mother-in-law, I pray God’s peace and comfort on you in this time.

  19. Mary Ruth was a beautiful lady both inside and out. Her historical knowledge and memory of the College of Agriculture was astounding and earned her great respect. She was strictly business with a great sense of humor. I can still hear her telling me how she got her first job at Texas A&M. I am so blessed for the the years I was privileged to work with her and become great friends. She was so very proud of each and every one of her children and grandchildren. I didn’t know Mary Ruth had moved on to Heaven in January, but I do know she is happily spending eternity with Sam in their Heavenly home. God Bless You All.


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