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She was born in Morgan County, Alabama and moved to Weslaco in 1927. She was the daughter of Herbert and Etna Willis.
She is survived by her two sons, Darrell Davis and René Davis, and her daughter, Connie Ewing. She had eight grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. She was devoted to her family and lived independently until a recent illness. She once was a much-applauded guest at a UTPA sociology class, discussing and answering student questions about what it was like to live to her age.
Funeral services were held on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at McCaleb Funeral Home in Weslaco. Burial followed at Highland Memorial Park in Weslaco.
Pallbearers were grandsons and nephews, Ragan Ewing, Ryan Ewing, Herb Willis, Patrick Willis, David Davis, and Billy Wayne Tidball. Honorary pallbearers were Don M. Davis, Don Clark Davis, Richard Norton, Don Murphy, Bob Mitchell, Art Cavazos, Andy Veliz, Butch Montgomery, Bobby McNabney, Nick Thompkins, Buddy Ault, Gary Couey, Ted Goode, Juan Ruelas and Nestor Medellin.
She graduated at age 16 from Weslaco High School, Class of 1932. In Weslaco, Odelia knew the Davis family and bought gasoline from Berry Davis, who would later become her father-in-law. She would drive the Willis family car into the gasoline station and buy a quarter’s worth (about two gallons).
Mr. Davis used a crank to fill a big bottle at the top of the pump. He then put a hose into the car’s tank, and when he squeezed the trigger on the hose, the bottle would empty down the hose into the car.
Mr. Davis said to her one day, “Girl, it’d be better if you bought more gasoline at a time.” She said she couldn’t afford it, that a quarter was all she had for gas.
She hoed and picked cotton and did other farm jobs to make some money. She worked in a Weslaco canning plant, putting up tomatoes and worked for a lady at a hotel, ironing.
In those days of the Great Depression, many applied for a day’s work hoeing cotton or such. After all, a day’s work in the field would yield one dollar. Among those looking for work on a particular day was Odelia and Mr. Davis. Odelia got hired. Mr. Davis did not. Later, as she was at the side of the road hoeing, she saw Mr. Davis walking by. He said to her, “Girl, you took a job from a man who really needed one.”
So, how did Odelia and Conner Davis get together? In Weslaco, one afternoon, she went by the gasoline station where Mr. Davis’s son Conner was working. They knew each other from school. She had a crush on him and his girlfriend had just left for college. She must have flirted with him. While he put the gasoline into her car, he asked her for a date for the next night. She, playing it cool, said she was busy. She paid for her
gasoline and left. She stopped at a traffic light a few blocks away, and Conner came driving up (he had followed her) and he asked her about having a date some other night.
They dated every night the next two weeks, and then on a carnival Ferris Wheel, he proposed to her. A Church of Christ preacher married them two weeks later, with Conner’s sister, Aline, and Odelia’s cousin, Marcelle, as witnesses. Odelia said they didn’t make a big deal about the wedding, and none of the parents attended.
Odelia’s father made this statement when her mother told him of the impending marriage: “I’d just as soon take her to the cemetery as to have her marry Conner Davis.” Odelia said this was because he didn’t want her to marry at all. He had no reason to dislike Conner, and in fact they never had a cross word, then or
ever. As the years went on, Conner became closer to him than Mr. Willis’s own sons. In his last years, Mr. Willis worked with Conner at Walter Baxter Seed Company. He thought Conner hung the moon.
There was an occasion when Odelia and Conner had an open house or party at their home. Among those attending was Conner’s boss, Walter H. Baxter. Several months before, the Davis children had played an April Fools’ Day trick on Conner. They had put salt in the sugar bowl, and Conner had spooned salt into his coffee
or onto his cereal, and he grimaced—to the children’s delight. At the social function held later, Odelia put out several sugar bowls, not realizing that the white powder in one of the bowls was the offending salt which had never been removed.
Mr. Baxter sat in the living room. Odelia noticed that he barely touched his coffee. A day or so later, one of the children was at breakfast, eating cereal, and said, “This milk is ruined.” Odelia replied that the milk was fresh and then discovered the salt in the sugar bowl. She then realized why Mr. Baxter hardly touched his coffee. When Conner told Mr. Baxter what happened, he said he had wondered about the coffee because the more sugar he put in, the worse it tasted.
Odelia volunteered her home for a wedding shower. She was busy with the finishing touches when the doorbell rang. She went to the door to find two ladies waiting. She told them to come on into the living room. They looked a little puzzled and went in and sat down. Odelia excused herself saying she had some last minute things to take care of. She told some others in the kitchen that there were two people had already arrived. When she returned to the living room, the two ladies said that they were not part of any gathering, but were Jehovah’s Witnesses who had “come a’calling.” They all laughed and the ladies departed.
Odelia had some friends over and one of them had a clipping out of a magazine that she wanted to share with the group. She pulled it out and handed it to Odelia and asked her to read it for everyone. Odelia took the clipping and looked at it for a few moments, and then she looked around to her friends, one by one, putting on her face a bit of sadness as well as some embarrassment. She waited just the right amount of time, then
said, softly, “I’m sorry but I’ve never been able to read.” Her friends sat stunned and silent, until she said, “Just kidding,” and went on to read the clipping flawlessly. (This is a good example of the unusual Davis family humor.)
As Odelia’s 90th birthday approached, she emphatically warned her children that she did not want a 90th birthday party. She wanted to make sure there was not a repeat of the celebration we had for her 80th. On that occasion, Connie Ruth arranged for a kind of open house at Odelia’s condo and a crowd of friends of her lifetime came. Odelia appreciated that party, but simply didn’t want to do anything like that again. We all
Later, Odelia said she had decided what she wanted for her 90th birthday was a limo ride. Whether she expected the limo ride or not is not known, but when her 90th birthday came, her sons René and Darrell planned to take her out to eat. Her daughter Connie came down, arranging for a limo to drive all of them to McAllen for lunch at a fancy seafood restaurant. Odelia really loved the limo driver.
Odelia, in her 90s, had a friend who was in her late 80s. The friend had some health crisis, but she pulled through, and told Odelia, “I guess the Lord had something more for me to do in this life.”
Odelia advised her, “At your age, you’d better get started.”
Odelia loved her family. It was the most important thing in her life. In her final hours, as the last instruction she gave, she told her daughter, “If I die, stay a family.” She slowly emphasized those last three words.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.