Obituary of Dorthy Jean Bess
Funeral Services for Dorthy Jean Bess will be held at 10:00 AM on Saturday, October 20, 2018 at the First United Methodist Church in Tatum, NM. Burial will follow at Tatum Cemetery. Visitation will be held at Kirby-Smith-Rogers Funeral Home from 2:00 to 7:00 PM on Friday, with the family in attendance from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.
Dorthy was born on the family homestead East of McDonald on December 15, 1928 to Cnitgrouss "Nite" and Maudie Johnson Betenbough. She passed October 15, 2018 at the family ranch where she had lived for 71 years. Dorthy attended school in Tatum where she was the drum major for the high school band. After graduating in 1945, she attended college at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where she met James Thomas Bess, a US Navy veteran who had returned to college following WWII. Returning to Lea County to begin ranching and build a life together, they married on June 17, 1947 in Roswell, NM They were married for 59 years, until his death in 2006.
Tom and Dorthy were inseparable and worked side by side every day to get the ranch started and keep it growing, starting with sheep because they couldn't afford cows, and later switching to a cow-calf operation when finances improved. Dorthy supported and worked alongside Tom, feeding and working cows, and also took on the traditional woman's work. Everyone in this area knows the hardships that those in agriculture have to face and she faced them all. Dorthy loved the ranching life, and looking at her beloved Angus cows and calves always brought a smile to her face.
She was always a strong supporter of agriculture. The lifestyle was important to her and she strongly supported the 4H and FFA projects of her grandchildren involving steers, pigs, lambs, and goats, and the baseball and rodeo events of her great-grandchildren. She was always an advocate for agriculture in Lea County serving on the Farm Service Agency Board, the Lea County Farm Bureau Board, and the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame Board. She was inducted into the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2015, and she and Tom were honored as the NM Farm Bureau Family of the Year in 1997. She was a life-long member of the Tatum United Methodist Church, and a member of NM Cattle Growers and, Lovington chapter # 35 Order of Eastern Star. Dorthy loved square dancing, her Appaloosa Horse Club, and the friends she made along the way. She and Tom traveled as far as Hawaii to square dancing conventions.
She was preceded in death by her parents and husband. Surviving her are two daughters, Gayla Bess and husband, Larry Mendenhall and Sherry Taylor and husband, Devoe. Four grandchildren, Crystal Bell and husband Dan, Kalup Taylor and wife, Michelle, Ryon Groesbeck and wife, Kate, and Trey Groesbeck. And four great-grandchildren, Saige and Kyler Bell, Braden Groesbeck, and Kase Taylor. She is also survived by her two older brothers Clinton G. Betenbough and D.J. Betenbough and several nieces and nephews.
Mom was the head of our family and will be greatly missed, but easing our sorrow is our belief that mama and daddy are now together again.
In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to the church that Dorthy loved, Tatum United Methodist Church, PO Box 385, Tatum, NM 88267.
321 West Washington Street
Lovington, NM 88260
Ph: (575) 396-2221