Woman remembered for warmth, devotion to county

Argen Duncan

When Lois Marie Coats was 7 or 8 years old, she recalls, her dusting didn’t satisfy her mother, Roosevelt County native Anita Dunn.

Dunn reminded her daughter of one of her life philosophies: If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all.

Well, then she wouldn’t do it at all, the girl replied. However, after a discussion with her mother, she was back to dusting, this time doing it well.

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Along with her standards of excellence in everything she did, friends and family remember Dunn’s loving nature, organization and devotion to Portales and Roosevelt County.

Dunn died July 16 in Lubbock, where she and her husband of 62 years, Preston, moved in 2006.

“She was a true lady in the best sense of that word, compassionate, gracious, kind and thoughtful,” said long-time friend Betty Williamson. “I never saw her when she wasn’t dressed to the nines, and I never left her presence without feeling better.”

Coats said Dunn loved and was an ambassador for Portales and Roosevelt County.

Williamson said Dunn had the most amazing mind for people, places and dates of anyone she’d ever known.

“Her knowledge of this area was absolutely encyclopedic,” Williamson said.

Dunn was a second mother to Scott Reeves, who was also a business partner with the Dunns in Wheeler Mortuary for 18 years.

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“She didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘stranger,’ ” Reeves said.

Standing in line, Reeves said, Dunn would strike up conversations and learn all about people.

Coats said Dunn loved her family, and she and Preston made sure their relatives had what they needed.

“She dearly loved her (high school) classmates, and in 1960, she found all but one of her classmates for the very first class reunion in Portales,” Coats also said.

Coats said her mother also kept in touch with a group of friends she knew from junior high and high school.

Dunn was involved in many local organizations, including being a member of First Baptist Church since 1937, and attended high school sporting events with her husband until they moved to Lubbock, Coats said.

Starting in 1962, Dunn worked for almost 20 years as secretary to ENMU Dean of the College of Education and Technology Al Bettina. She mothered many students, who called her “Mama Dunn,” Coats said.

Reeves said Dunn naturally took the lead in group settings.

“She was a General McArthur in a skirt,” he said.

Coats said her mother could clean house in the morning, give a speech at noon and host a dinner in her home in the evening.

“There was never a challenge that she couldn’t meet,” Coats said.