By Helena Rodriguez
When Billie Tollett’s mother passed away in 1979, Mary Edna Luker told her, “Well, I’ll just be your mommy for you.” And from that day on, Tollett referred to Luker as her mother, someone she would go to for advice.
When it came to Luker’s own children, her two daughters also counted on her for motherly advice.
“She just wanted us to treat people right and be honest. She taught us to be good Christian people,” said Donna Jean Victor, Tollett’s only surviving daughter. Luker’s other daughter, Betty Jo Dickerman, died in 1979.
Luker would have been 95 years old on Monday. She was buried Saturday at Portales Cemetery.
Victor’s fondest memories of her mother are of growing up in Dora and gardening and canning fruits and vegetables with her mother and going on family camping trips. Later, Luker would also take her grandchildren camping.
“Mother always loved having company in her home and cooking for them. She always cooked chicken fried steak and fried chicken. She was good at cooking anything,” Victor said. She added that her mom also loved to crochet, sew and help her husband, Walter, with the farming.
“Mother really enjoyed hoeing in the fields,” Victor recalled. “We’d be driving down the highway and sometimes we’d let her out to hoe some weeds and then we’d pick her up on our way back.”
Victor said her mother was always there at all of her sporting activities while she was growing up and also liked working with her husband when possible. The Lukers were married for 76 years before Mr. Luker died.
“I remember Dad telling me that he was sitting behind mother in church when they met,” Victor laughed. “She turned around and looked at him and he winked. And every time she’d turn back around and look at him, he’d wink again at her.”
The Lukers moved from West Texas to Dora in 1944 to get away from the harsh cotton fields. They fit right into the Dora community, making friends such as the Tolletts, and were active with the Dora Baptist Church and Dora Senior Citizens Center. When Luker moved to Portales in 1991 to live at Golden Acres, she became a member of Calvary Baptist Church. In 1999, she went to live at Heartland Continuing Care Center in Portales.