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Saturday, May 6, 2023
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BROWNSVILLE, TX. - Mary Elizabeth Altman Yturria passed away peacefully on December 27, 2022, after an incredible 97 years of life.
Born on May 9, 1925, in York, Alabama, Mary was the eldest of four children born to John and Dorothy Altman. Mary and her three siblings, Dorothy, Eleanor, and John, grew up in York and later moved to New Orleans. After graduating from the Sophie Wright School for Girls in New Orleans, Mary spent one year at Louisiana State University. At age 19, she was offered her dream job as a Pan American Airways stewardess, routinely flying throughout Latin America by way of Brownsville. On one fateful flight in 1946, she met Fausto Yturria, Sr. who encouraged his son, Frank, a young cadet at Texas A&M, to call on Mary. This chance encounter marked the beginning of a beautiful love story between a refined southern belle and a South Texas cowboy that would last 71 years. On May 9, 1947, Mary’s 22nd birthday, she and Frank were married in a small ceremony in Bryan, Texas.
Mary and Frank made Brownsville their home and went on to have two daughters, Mary Eleanor and Dorothy. In 1954, then Senator Lyndon Johnson sent Frank, an Air Force Reservist, on a two-year assignment to the Philippines. Soon after his deployment, Mary and her daughters traveled by steam ship to meet Frank in Manila. Though only there for two years, Mary often said those were some of the happiest years of her life. It was during this period that she and Frank met Tito and Tessie Yulo who became treasured friends for the rest of their lives.
After their time in the Philippines, Mary and Frank returned to Brownsville to raise young Mary Eleanor and Dorothy. Mary instilled in her two daughters, and later her three grandchildren, a lifelong passion for all things creative. Mary particularly relished gardening, collecting seeds from world travels, and, later in life, tending to her roses at her home in Indian Wells, California. Family trips to Honolulu and a round-the-world trip with Frank and her grandson, George, were among some of her most memorable travels. She also loved to cook and entertain – a passion sparked by her time at culinary school at Maxim’s in Paris, which she attended as a young woman. Mary’s annual Thanksgiving feasts were unforgettable and became one of the most treasured of family holidays.
Mary lived life by the motto “God, family, country.” She was a woman of strong faith whose relationship with God sustained her, particularly at the end of her life. She was a lifelong member of the Church of the Advent, Episcopal in Brownsville and relished in listening to sermons by Ray Stedman.
Until the very end of her life, Mary remained committed to the selfless service of her county, state and her adopted home of Brownsville, where she lived for 75 years. She served in numerous leadership positions with charitable organizations focused on historic preservation, the arts, literacy, health, safety and education. Mary and Frank were also proud co-founders of the Republican Party of Cameron County. Mary’s impact went beyond leadership positions; her strong, diplomatic voice gave birth to many organizations that went on to be transformative in the community.
Mary’s philanthropic awards are too numerous to mention, but one recognition for which she was particularly proud was having a school named for her and Frank – Mary & Frank Yturria Elementary – in recognition of their shared dedication to improving education in the Rio Grande Valley. Mary was an integral part of the community – so much so that May 9th, her birthday, was proclaimed by the City of Brownsville as Mary Yturria Day. Her legacy will no doubt live on for generations to come.
Mary is preceded in death by her husband Frank Yturria, mother Dorothy Stockton, father John Altman, brother John Altman, and sister Eleanor Curran. She is survived by her sister Dorothy (“Tut”) Riddick, daughters Mary Eleanor Wilkerson and Dorothy Hablinski, sons-in-law Dale Wilkerson and Mark Hablinski, grandson George Farish, granddaughters Leslie Cammuso and Alexandra Guill, granddaughter-in-law Maribel Farish, grandsons-in-law Christopher Cammuso and John Guill, and great-grandsons Daniel Farish, Isaac Farish, Colin Cammuso, Alexander Cammuso and Ben Guill.
Mary’s family is eternally grateful to Kathleen Hoover, loyal friend and family secretary for over 50 years, and Mary’s devoted friends, staff, doctors and caregivers: Ramon Uresti, Rebecca Rodriguez, Santos Gonzalez, the Hernandez family and the entire staff of the Yturria Ranch, Dr. Roberto Robles, Dr. Amon McGlenn, Christina Davis, Daisy Alvarado, Frida Velasquez, Lucy Barajas, Rosie Pena, Cynthia Quintero, Janie Silva, Betty Balderas.
In lieu of flowers, Mary’s family humbly requests a charitable contribution be made in Mary’s honor to the Brownsville Community Foundation, the Brownsville Historical Association and/or the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art.
Mary will be laid to rest at a private family ceremony at the Yturria Ranch. A Celebration of Life will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Advent, Episcopal, just before what would have been Mary’s 98th birthday, with a reception immediately following in Parish Hall. The Church of the Advent, Episcopal is located at 104 W. Elizabeth Street, Brownsville, Texas 78520.
Memories of Mrs. Yturria may be shared at www.darlingmouser.com.
Personalized funeral arrangements directed by Steven R. Hieu Bailey and Staff have been entrusted to the care of Darling-Mouser Funeral Home at 945 Palm Boulevard in Brownsville, Texas 78520, (956) 546-7111 .