Clara Mae (Ferguson) Vandagriff passed away on January 9, 2021 after a brief Covid illness. Born on October 20, 1934, to Thomas Clark and Beattie Bernice (Cross) Ferguson of Leonard Texas, she was the youngest sister of four; Lois Inez (Ferguson) Reavis, Cora Lee (Ferguson) Swartz, and Doral Dean (Ferguson) Little. All her sisters preceded her in death. Though losing her father at age four, she was raised in a happy family by her Mother and loving sisters in the depression and post-depression era. These strong women all shared a lifelong dedicated and loving friendship and support for each other as they grew and
began their own families.
In 1950 Clara and Johnny Wayne Vandagriff (he also the youngest of eleven), from Pike Texas, began a courtship and wed on September 6 in Pike Texas. Clara and Johnny celebrated 46 years of marriage before his passing in 1996. With Clara's passing, the last of two-family generations have ended (Cross/Ferguson, and Vandagriff). Clara and Johnny traveled and lived in and out of Texas with stays in New Jersey, Colorado, Germany (two tours), and Louisiana, before finally making it back to Texas in Johnny's military travails that included Japan, Korea and Vietnam. During their 1st tour of Germany in the 1950's, two daughters were born, Marilyn Bernice and Carolyn Elaine. In between tours to Germany, back in Texas, two sons were born, Kenny Dwayne and Dale Clark.
Clara was a strong willed and intelligent working woman of her generation, and like her Mother, worked to provide for the family. On Johnny's return from Vietnam and ending his military career, they returned to Texas in Euless to be nearer to family (Ishmael and Lois lived there). But, dreams and wishes for a country house and farm had been formulating and they needed to find a way to achieve this dream. Clara took keypunch classes that enabled her to begin a career with the Xerox corporation. Over the years this culminated into her being an operations professional for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Mainframe and Mini computers and computer networks. She was very proud of her capabilities and achievements, and her working ethic allowed her and Johnny to have a small farm raising Appaloosa horses from the late 60's through the 1980's in Colleyville Texas. During these times Clara and Johnny liked to travel, and camping was a big family affair, usually with her sister Lois (Ishmael) Reavis' family. This culminated in both families purchasing adjacent lake plots at Lake Palestine Texas, and through the years establishing homes there.
In the late 80's as both men's health suffered, they moved to make the lake their permanent home. Over time, as both Ishmael, Lois's husband, and then Johnny passed, Clara and Lois became the two sisters to those who knew them in their churches and friendships n the East Texas area. They took care of each other as they grew older and moved from Lake Palestine into Tyler, then onto the Rosewood retirement home in Tyler. The two sisters were very active members in the Gresham Baptist Church over many years until age limited their activities. Lois passed away in 2017, leaving Clara alone. Late 2019, Clara desired to move again to be closer to her family. She has been a resident of the Liberty Heights Gracious Retirement community in Rockwall Texas.
Clara is survived by three of her children and fifteen grandchildren: Chris (whom she and Johnny raised), Kevin Coon, Samuel Eck, Duane Johnson, Versile Ray Johnson, Mikel Johnson, John Johnson, Zeb Johnson, Shanna Burt, Shane Vandagriff, Derek Vandagriff, Joseph Vandagriff, Trent Vandagriff, Clark Vandagriff, Pat Vandagriff, and over 20 great grandchildren. Known as AC (Aunt Clara), she is also survived by her loving nieces and nephews (Bea (Reavis) and Steve Schrobo, Mary (Schwarz) Miller, Karen Schwarz, Linda (Reavis) Qualls, Becky (Little) MaGee, Bill Little, and Hollye (Little) West. Several others preceded her in death. AC had lifelong relationships with her nieces, and in later years, she and Lois traveled and went on cruises with her nieces that were the talk of their lives.
Clara enjoyed and lived her life with family and her God and savior. She was an exemplary person of faith, family, and inner strength to those who knew and loved her. She will be missed, but remembered well. During these times of this horrific Covid Disease, there cannot be a safe memorial and funeral service for the number of people whom would like to attend. What the family has decided is to have a memorial later in the spring in East Texas, and then a burial of the remains at the family plot next to Johnny in Pike Texas. That date will be provided at a later time as the vaccine is distributed and it becomes safe to have a celebration of her life for all.