America Jean Threlkeld (Ray) joined her Lord and Savior on Saturday, December 17, 2022, at the age of 97 surrounded by her loved ones. Jean was born on March 5, 1925, to Thomas and Minnie Ray in Stamford, Texas. She was the fourth child of the Rays’ six children. America Jean lost her mother at the age of 8 -- a loss she remembered until her death. She was a devoted sister to her brothers Henry, Dallas, Willis, and Morris and her sister Billie Jo. She often delighted in telling stories of the Ray kids’ antics in Borger, Texas, where they lived. She took great pride in how they all stuck together and how close they were. Though they were separated by miles and the passing of three of her brothers, her smile would light up the room each time she and Morris or Billie Jo spoke on the phone. She was a beloved sister and aunt.
She met Lloyd Jackson Threlkeld, a handsome boy who had moved to Borger from Chicago, when she was only sixteen years old. They married on November 3, 1942, and welcomed their son Jackie Thomas in 1943. Together they weathered World War II, the Korean War, and the death of their beloved son at the age of 10 in a tragic accident.
In 1962 they moved to Casper, Wyoming, and began a new chapter of their lives. Jean’s dream of having children again came true with a son, Daniel Lloyd, who they adopted in 1963. Over the next 4 years, their family grew with the addition of Brenda Jean, Sandra Jo, and Paul Murray. The Threlkeld house was a busy one full of love, laughter and, with four kids stair-stepped in age, a fair amount of squabbles. From volunteering in the school’s office and on the playground, to organizing class parties, sewing Halloween costumes, and using cookie cutters to make fancy sandwiches for school lunches, Jean cherished it all. She was the unshakeable foundation of her family. As her children entered their teen and adult years, she was never too busy to listen to a success, comfort a heartache, or simply hear about the day.
When Jean lost Jack to cancer on December 30, 1988, her children and grandchildren were her comfort. She was blessed with 12 grandchildren whom she adored. From cleaning out her change purse to give one gas money, to going more than a little crazy at the children’s clothing store, and keeping a well-stocked cabinet of “goody,” she loved nothing more than spoiling them. She was always up for a game of Monopoly, Canasta, or Chinese checkers, and she usually won. She would always claim there was no cheating involved, and her smile made it easy to ignore. She shared with them her love for good movies, home-cooked southern food, chocolate, and cake for breakfast - after all, she said, “It has milk and eggs in it!”
In her later years she was so very proud to have 8 great-grandchildren and was anxiously awaiting the 9th. Though her sight, hearing, and mobility were failing, they brought such joy to her life. From teaching them silly songs, to sharing her love of baby dolls and nail polish, to asking about all their activities, she adored spending time with them. She was born to be a mother, a grandmother, and a gigi.
She was an accomplished cook, loved to crochet, and no daily crossword could stump her. Her love of western movies was legendary. Though her failing health limited her ability to do many of the things she loved, her school-girl giggle and sense of humor never failed, and they were truly infectious. Her selfless nature and unconditional love were her gifts to those around her until the day she passed.
The family would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Marjorie Wells who was her devoted physician for over two decades and treated her like a member of her own family. She was always just a phone call away to provide care for America Jean and support for her family. Jennifer Doyle was a trusted friend, caregiver, and Canasta opponent for many years. Her companionship and love brought untold joy. Finally, the staff of Meadow Winds Assisted Living were a constant comfort in her two final years. They became part of her extended family. They loved her feisty personality and called her "Miss America."
America Jean is survived by her children: Daniel Lloyd Threlkeld (Ann), Brenda Jean Threlkeld, Sandra Jo Stille (Paul), and Paul Murray Threlkeld (Andrea) -- her grandchildren: Aimee Threlkeld, Heather Threlkeld, Preston Threlkeld (Annelise), Whitney Daugherity, Ashley Threlkeld (Shawn), Nick Stille (Hannah), Jeremy Threlkeld (Jordan), Bethany Threlkeld, Colton DeCook, Jackson DeCook, Cody DeCook, and Brooklyn Threlkeld, her great-grandchildren: Abigail, Olivia, Quincey, Landon, Kade, Sydney, Henry, Rory, and a new baby boy due in March whom she so wanted to meet, and her siblings Morris Ray and Billie Jo Petzinger. She is also survived by her former daughter-in-law Marijane Zale and many nieces and nephews whom she never stopped loving though miles separated them. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers: Henry Ray, Dallas Ray, and Willis Ray and her half-sister Mary Dalton, her son Jackie Thomas Threlkeld, and her husband Lloyd Jackson Threlkeld.
Due to weather, the family has rescheduled services to take place on Friday, December 23, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.
A visitation for family and friends in Texas will be held on Thursday, December 29, 2022 from 4:00pm - 6:00pm, at Browns Funeral Home in Borger, Texas. A graveside service will be held on Friday, December 30, 2022 at 1:00 pm at Highland Park Cemetery in Borger, Texas.