Kenneth Bridges | History Columnist
Veron Seay was not a woman people will read about in the history books. She was not famous, but she was the kind of person that the world was better for having around.
She was born Lois Veron Harris in 1927 in Ragtown, Texas, a small community of farmers just outside Paris. She had an older brother, Gaylon, who died when he was five, and a younger sister, LaFay.
The family later moved further west to Wichita Falls when she was young in hopes of better work. The Great Depression, however, hit the family hard. Her mother would have to make dresses for her and her sister out of old potato sacks. For a time in the 1930s, her parents were only able to support the family through Works Progress Administration work projects, her father digging ditches or helping pave highways and her mother working in WPA sewing rooms or canning rooms. At one point, all they had to eat in the house was one can of Spanish rice. But they worked hard, endured, and gradually overcame their poverty.
When she was growing up, their denomination would be whatever church was within walking distance. She would go on to teach Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for nearly six decades.
In 1940, she had to quit school in the eighth grade to go to work. She mentioned in her job as a waitress that she made $6 per week for a seven-day week and thought she was getting rich.
She married W. T. Nichols in 1947, a marriage that later ended in divorce. When she gave birth to her only daughter in 1948, the bill was only $50, including the ambulance ride to the hospital and back home.
Family was always important. When men walked on the Moon with the Apollo 11 landings in 1969 and the family watched on TV, she sat in another room taking care of her father as he lay dying of cancer.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the debate over women in the workplace and wives working outside the home perplexed her. “We all worked,” she would say.
In 1984, she married Jeff Seay, a respected rancher and gentleman from Archer City. The two had many happy times together. While living on the ranch, she once helped birth a calf, the first time she ever saw anything being born. As Jeff Seay’s health declined, she cared for him day and night. She later recalled that as he passed away, he saw someone above him and reached out. She would tell the story often that whoever Jeff Seay saw in his dying moments, he was glad to see them.
Well into retirement, she continued to work. She volunteered for many years with several organizations, always helping others and always treating each volunteer job as she would any other job.
Her faith was always there, and she read the Bible and religious books voraciously, always asking questions about it all. Even pushing 80, she still walked the ten blocks to and from church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.
For Veron Seay, kindness was never a weakness. Self-respect and hard work were always a given. If someone ever took advantage of her generous nature, she would just shrug it off and move on. She would never allow someone else’s lack of character to diminish her own. Being good to others was an expectation.
When her sister became ill, she cared for her day and night, refusing to leave her side. As they had been all their lives, they were inseparable. Not long after her sister passed away, her ex-husband became ill, and she took care of him, too, staying at this side the whole time with all forgiven. Losing so much in the span of just a few months took its toll and her, and her health declined.
She was tired, but she still wanted to take care of everybody. In March, she suffered a serious stroke that briefly paralyzed her. With modern medicine and a strong spirit, she was up walking the next day. Her luck ran out, and she suffered a second stroke a month later, much more serious and one she would not be able to recover from. She died April 16 at the age of 88.
One life touches another. Perhaps the ultimate legacy anyone can leave is the example they lead, how they touch the lives of others, and how they made them feel. And sometimes we find a special person in our lives who makes us want to be better people. That was the special legacy of Veron Seay, my grandmother.