Obituaries – Clay Espy Miller, Jr. – Helen Marine Acton Bell

Clay Espy Miller, Jr. died early Thursday morning, February 23, 2017.  Services were held at C.E. Miller Ranch.

Clay Espy Miller, Jr. was born in Marlin, Texas on July 7, 1926 to Clay Espy and Lucy Foster Miller.  His formative years were split between Fort Davis, Texas, where he attended school and summers spent at the family ranch west of Valentine, Texas.

Upon graduation from Fort Davis High School, at the age of 16, he attended Texas Tech University. In 1943, at the age of 17, Clay enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp, serving honorably until discharge following World War Two. He then enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology in 1947. He continued for a time with post graduate studies under the direction of Dr. Frank Blair.

On June 7, 1949, Clay married JoEllen Canada in Nevada, Missouri.  After a brief stint with Texas Parks and Wildlife, he and Jody joined his father, Espy, and his uncle, Keesey Miller, on the family ranch at Valentine, where they raised a family of four sons. He remained at the ranch for the remainder of his life.

Ever civic minded, Clay served on the Valentine School Board for 23 years, as treasurer of the Bloys Campmeeting Association for 31 years, many years on the board of the Highland Soil and Water Conservation District, was a member of the Highland Hereford Association and served on the Jeff Davis County Appraisal Review Board.  Clay has the distinction of being recognized as serving more than 55 years as a weather observer for the National Weather Service. He was a founding member and longtime director of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute.

In 2003, Clay and Jody were honored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife with the statewide Lone Star Land Steward award for excellence in land stewardship.

Clay is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Byerley, and his brother-in-law Joseph William (Jake) Jacobson.  He is survived by Jody, his wife of 67 years, his sister Lucy Mildred Jacobson of Fort Davis, his brother-in law Leon G. Byerley of Midland, his first cousin and wife, Kimball and Patricia Miller of Fort Davis, his sons and daughters-in-law Albert and Maralea of Valentine, William and Jill of Valentine, Jim and Carolyn of Ft. Davis, and Walter and Ann of Horizon City. Grand children include Clay (Barbie), Rex (Stephanie), Wesley (Alicia), Nicole, Don (Jennie), Jason, Kyla, and Shely, eight great grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Bloys Campmeeting Association (Maxie Watts, 125 Bluebriar Lane, Buchanan Dam, Texas 78609) or the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute  CDRI,  (P.O Box 904, Fort Davis, Texas 79734).  Cards to Jody Miller may be sent to PO Box 279, Valentine, Texas 79854.

A special thank you to the Culberson Hospital staff for their kindness in caring for Clay.

Helen Marine Acton Bell

Today Helen Marine Acton Bell is dancing with her one true love, Horace L. Bell, in Heaven. She was reunited with him on Feb. 19, 2017. Helen was born June 26,1931, to Celia Maxine and Maynard William “Dutch” Acton in Wall, Texas.

The family moved to Alpine in 1936, where they lived on ranches in and around the Far West Texas area. Helen attended school in Alpine and Valentine, Texas. In Valentine she met her “angel,” Horace Leslie Bell. They were married on June 6, 1950, in Valentine. They were blessed with five daughters, Francis Byrd of Talkeetna Arkansas; Leslie Earline Williams of Valentine; Sally Gooch-Parsons of Del Rio, Texas; Helen Joann Garcia of Houston, Texas; and Lee Billings of Sanderson, Texas. They had fourteen grandchildren and thirty-two great-grandchildren.

Services have been entrusted to Alpine Memorial Funeral Home in Alpine, Texas.


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