Mason Crocker, 75, a Brady rancher for 40 years and father of Texas' First
Lady Rita Clements, died Saturday morning in Houston. He had been
undergoing treatment for cancer at M. D. Anderson Hospital for about a
Funeral services were held in Brady Monday afternoon at St. Paul's Episcopal church, and burial was here in Rest Haven Cemetery under direction of Colonial Funeral Home.
Texas Gov. Bill Clements accompanied his wife, Rita, to her father's funeral.
Although Crocker had lived in Brady since 1941, he continued to operate a ranch in Kansas which had been in his family since shortly after the Civil War.
The ranch, 2,716 acres of it, was sold in January, 1980, but Crocker kept another 2,000 acres, leasing it to the new owner.
The old Crocker home near Matfield Green in Kansas is a landmark in Chase County, between Emporia and Wichita. In Victorian style with 13 rooms, it was built by Crocker's father, Edward in 1906.
Crocker and his wife, Florabel, later remodeled the house as a colonial structure with great white pillars on the front, giving it the look of a Southern plantation house. It has five bedrooms.
Crocker came from a long line of Kansas Republicans, and it may have been his influence and that of his daughter, Rita, that Dallas oilman Bill Clements ran as a Republican for governor of Texas in 1978.
Mrs. Clements says her husband was an independent until after they were married in 1976.
Crocker was not surprised when his daughter and son-in-law became involved in Texas politics. While he was growing up in Kansas his family's house was full of politicians, senators and governors.
Crocker's father and an uncle, Arthur, both had served in the Kansas Legislature, and when Bill Clements was elected Texas governor, Crocker and his wife were [resent in austin for the inauguration.
The Kansas ranch dates back to Crocker's grandfather, E. B. Crocker, and immigrant from England who also helped establish the Episcopal Church in Emporia.
E. B. Crocker had gone to Chase County before the Civil War and found the land he wanted. He was called to war, however, and when he returned someone else had filed on the property.
But he bought the man out and built a log cabin on Crocker Creek, a stream that runs through the property. His sons, Edward and Arthur, began ranching there in 1895, and in the years before World War I the ranch supported 5,000 head of registered Hereford cattle.
Mason Crocker spent most of his youth working as a cowboy on the ranch and remembered riding boxcars of cattle into Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago.
Two memorial funds have been established in Crocker's memory, one at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brady and the other at the M. D. Anderson Hospital at 6723 Bertner, Houston, Texas 77030.
Born in Kansas January 7, 1907, Crocker was a graduate of Kansas State University and married the former Florabel West October 5, 1929, in Newton, Kansas.
During the years in Brady he worked with the county Republican organization, the July Jubilee, the American Quarter Horse Association, and the chamber of Commerce. He was an honorary vice president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
He had held office in St. Paul's Church and served as a director of the National Finance Credit Corporation.
Survivors are his wife; the daughter and son-in-law, Gov. and Mrs. Bill Clements of Dallas; a son, Rev. and Mrs. Byron G. Crocker of Beaumont, a sister, anna Lee Howard of Kansas; and six grandchildren, Dan and Jim Bass and twins Bonnie and barbara Bass, all of Dallas, and Mason Lee Crocker and Tom Crocker, both of Beaumont.
Among Crocker's possessions was a plaque with a poem that his wife says was his favorite:
I've met a heap o' cowboys,
and some was real top hands,
I saw a million cattle,
and read a log o' brands.
I've seen some hard old winters,
when nearly all cattle died.
I've rode some cuttin' horses
that could turn out their hides.
I ate my share o' beefsteak
and drunk some whiskey too.
And did a little dancin'
with nothin' else to do.
Been bucked off old outlaws
that I couldn't start to ride.
An' saw some fine old buddies
go over the Great Divide.
With friends and family now
I'm makin' my last stand.
An hopin' to be horseback
when I reach the Promised Land.