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Hughes, La Nelda

Hughes, La Nelda

From the Waco neighbors: Obituaries for August 9 series
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La Nelda Hughes

Sept. 16, 1941 - Aug. 5, 2020

La Nelda (Bockman-Vines-Bullard-Goodin) Hughes was born in Shamrock, Texas, September 16, 1941, to Everet Bockman and Edith Bradley Bockman, and died in Waco, Texas, August 5, 2020. She was out of step with people around her for most of her 78 years. In accordance with her wishes, there will be no funeral for La Nelda.

An early sign of rebellion was obvious when she and her first husband threw everything they owned in a ("Unsafe-At-Any Speed," according to Ralph Nader) Corvair and drove 550 miles from the Texas Panhandle to get to Texas A&M, despite the fact that nobody in either of their families had ever attended college. They thought they'd figure it out when they got there. La Nelda was one of the first women to attend A&M, which had admitted only white men from it's founding in 1876 until the 1960s. There was never any other female in any of her classes at A&M.

La Nelda with a college catalog in hand was like a kid in a candy store. She could never get all the knowledge she wanted and kept taking college courses for the next 30 years, studying such diverse subjects as Meteorology at A&M and Stud Horse Management in Kentucky. She started out as a sociology major and eventually picked up a Business Management degree, along with more than a hundred extra hours of credit.

She was the first female board member of the Texas Telephone Association, which was founded in 1905. CNN, ABC, and USA TODAY sent interviewers to Coolidge, Texas, population 786 at the time, to talk to La Nelda about her work on behalf of the telephone industry. Ronald and Nancy Reagan invited her to the White House as a representative of Women in Telecommunications. When her children teased her about being "white bread" and countrified, she was heard to respond, "Well, okay, but I've been to chicken fights in Oklahoma and was an invited guest at the White House, and I can fit in both places."

After selling the telephone and cable TV companies, she retired to Lake Travis, near Austin, and declared herself the happiest old retired woman around, at the age of 44. But with energy to spare, she took a job as a sports columnist at the AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN newspaper for a couple of years, until she proved to herself she could do that job by winning a Sprint Award for the best newspaper column on quarter-horse racing in 1988.

After moving to Oklahoma to be with her mother during her last years, La Nelda got involved with fundraising for a museum devoted to country singer Roger Miller, who grew up in the town of Erick, where several members of La Nelda's family lived. A play she wrote about Miller, titled DANG ME, won an award from the Oklahoma tourism industry. Her newspaper column, which ran in several local papers, BIG FUN IN SMALL TOWNS, also was honored by the tourism group. The musical she and her husband Don created and produced, A CELEBRATION OF OKLAHOMA MUSIC, was one of the first projects accepted for Oklahoma's Centennial Celebration in 2007 and was performed 35 times.

La Nelda is survived by the love of her life, husband, Don Hughes, formerly of Coolidge, Texas; her daughter, Barbara Argueso of Buena Vista, Colorado; her son, Les Bullard of Kermit, Texas; and grandchildren, Electra Bullard, Cormac Bullard and Sarita Bullard; her brother, David Vines of Owasso, Oklahoma; and sister, Lyn Garrison of Justin, Texas; and many much-loved-in-laws, nieces and nephews.

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