John Lee Gadberry passed away on March 11, 2022, at the age of 93, in Amarillo, Texas. John had been a resident of The Reserve of Amarillo for the past three years. But, most of his life was spent farming and ranching in Follett, Texas.
Born on January 4, 1929, John was the only child of Walter Clay (“W. C.”) and Edythe Mildred (“Bill”) Gadberry. Legend has it, he was the last male child born in Old Mobeetie, Texas.
John volunteered to serve his country by enlisting in the Navy on August 17, 1950. He served for four years on the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea and was honorably discharged on June 8, 1954. Although trained as a jet mechanic, he ended up overseeing the tractors moving planes on the carrier’s deck. Apparently, the ship’s captain found out he was a farmer and knew he could manage the tractors.
The love of his life, Devona (“Tootie”) Bond, entered his life shortly after his discharge. Their courtship involved a lot of tractor time. John kept the road hot and heavy between Follett and Laverne, Oklahoma dating Tootie. After a short while, John said the late nights were a bit much and they should just get married. (He actually wrote Tootie saying, “Either marry me or get off the pot.”) So, on July 20, 1956, they eloped to Clayton, New Mexico.
John farmed and ranched more than 50 years. He loved being on a horse, especially his horse named Nudo. He was an avid snow skier and fisherman. Many of his grandchildren were taught to ski and fish by Papa.
John’s civic service included City Council and Mayor of Follett, trustee of the Follett Independent School Board (where he served as President for more than 10 years), Follett Volunteer Fire Department, and many more. He was a member of the Follett United Methodist Church and a Freemason.
John is survived by his treasured wife, Tootie, and their three children, Shawn Ashpaugh and husband Neal, Dr. Walter Gadberry, and Gavin and wife Laura Gadberry, and his son Garth and wife Faye Gadberry. He was beloved Papa to 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
His family asks that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Alzheimer’s Association- West Texas Chapter, 110 Mesa Park Dr., Suite 250, El Paso, TX 79912 or the Follett United Methodist Church, PO Box 186, Follett, TX 79034.
John’s family also wishes to express their deep gratitude to the many caregivers at The Reserve of Amarillo. He was their Papa too.