DESDEMONA - Mary Alice Brown Ficklen, 84, peacefully passed away at her home in Desdemona, Texas on Oct. 31, 2007, with love in her heart and loved ones by her side.

A Celebration of Life service is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007, at 2 p.m. at the Desdemona Garden of Memories Cemetery Chapel south of Desdemona. A graveside service will follow. The family will receive friends and relatives at the Ranch house east of Desdemona at 36974 W. FM 8. Visitation with the family will be from 6 - 8 p.m. this evening at Nowlin Funeral Home.

Mary was the daughter of R. A. “Anse” Brown and Polly Williams Brown. She was born on May 24, 1923, in Desdemona. She was graduated from Desdemona High School and Valedictorian of the Class of 1939. Ficklen was a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas Woman's University where she earned a degree in journalism in 1943. Mary held a Master's Degrees in Journalism from Southern Methodist University earned in 1971. In 1972, she received the Matrix award from the professional chapter of Theta Sigma Phi, national women's journalist fraternity for recognition of her freelance writing.

During her lengthy career in communications, Ficklen was a publicist for Interstate Theaters of Dallas for such films as “Henry V,” “Duel in the Sun,” “Back to Bataan,” “Mutiny on the Bounty” and “Lawrence of Arabia”; public relations director for the Dallas Athletic club; a freelance journalist published in the Washingtonian, Southern Living Magazine, Cattleman Magazine, Dallas Magazine, the Dallas Morning News, and the Dallas Time Herald; Lead Public Information Officer for FEMA Region 8 disasters from 1976-1986; and syndicated columnist from 1986-2000. Mary's weekly column, “Of a Certain Age” appeared in the Dallas Morning News, Abilene Reporter, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, and the Brownwood Bulletin. In the column, she shared her experience of growing old with grace, dignity, humor and hope for the future.

Mary Alice was a long-time Texas Yellow-Dog Democrat and dedicated member of the East Dallas Democrats, a fighter for fairness, and a staunch supporter of women's rights, studies and authors. She loved to write, read books, world-traveling and fine dining, wildflowers and birds, Texas and Desdemona history, summer vacation at South Padre Island, and ranch visits with beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ficklen enjoyed promoting local Desdemona causes; she served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Desdemona Cemetery Association and helped spearhead the recently completed Erath County Farm to Market Road 8 highway improvements begun in 1989. At Goodtree Retirement Community, Mary was appointed Resident Advisor of Cultural Affairs.

Mary Alice Brown and Jack (“Herc”) Howells Ficklen, Sr., political cartoonist for the Dallas Morning News, were married Oct.21, 1950, and reared their family in Dallas, where she lived until 1984, when she returned to Desdemona.

Mary is predeceased by her parents, her husband “Herc” and his mother Bessie Curran Howells Ficklen; her special companion of later years, Harold Taylor, formerly of Marshall; brother-in-law, Lowell H. Johnson, II, of Amarillo, her beloved best friend Agatha Genoway Nance, formerly of Desdemona; and beloved first cousins from the Williams, Brown, and McGrath families.

Mary Alice is survived by three children and their families, including four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, Molly Ficklen Godwin and Bill Weaver, of Kyle; Jack Howells Ficklen, Jr. and Whitney Ficklen, of Port Mansfield; Robert, Lacy, and Jack Ficklen of Coppell; and Tara, Cora, and Patrick Ficklen-McBean, of St. Charles, Ill.; David, Ariana, and Evelyn Virginia Hertenstein of Coppell. In addition, Mary is survived by her very special “Little Sister” Marjorie Louise Brown Johnson and niece Carolyn Contreras and family, of Amarillo, Texas; brother and wife, Robert Calvin and Ima Martin Brown, of Desdemona and Temple; nephew, Lowell H. Johnson, III and family of Corinth; niece, Fran Senger and family, of Russellville, Ark.; nephew, Robert Alton Brown and family of Fort Worth; many beloved cousins; her dear, dear women friends, Barbara, Ellen, Evah, Fran, Lucille, Mary Frances, Marion, Meg, Paulia, Doris, Sue, and Susie; her GoodTree friends and neighbors; and her life-long Desdemona neighbors and friends.

Each member of the Ficklen family would like to express their sincere gratitude to The Gonzales Group Eldercare Services, under the direction of Ventura Chavarria, of DeLeon. Our heartfelt thanks always to Mom's caregivers Ventura, Adelina “Nina” Gonzales, Kristy Gonzales, and Janie Gonzales, Lucy Rangel, and Niki Chavarria; Angela Cozart of Goodtree; and Donna Ferguson with CCS Hospice, Dublin, Texas, for their patient and loving care of Mary in her home and their strong support of the Ficklen family. Melinda and Chuck Abbe, of Gorman, Texas; Pam Field McCaslan and Kevin McCaslan, of Weatherford, and Joan and Bobby Baker, of Desdemona; and many more friends, neighbors, colleagues, and fans of “Of a Certain Age” also have our thanks for your caring concern and support since 1999.

The family would also like to express their many, many thanks to our “Goodtree” family, under the direction and management of Cheryl M.Warren, Stacey Gilley, and Angela Cozart, with Mary Lewis, Katie Still, Michael Helms, Ricky and Carol Fidler; the Reverend Buddy Wells and to the many personal attendants who assisted Mary from 1999 to 2007; and to Lillie McCarty of Stephenville; Dr. Lester Ong and Tricia at Stephenville Medical and Surgical Clinic; Blake LaRue and Debbie at Jones Hearing; Dr. Haley, DDS, and staff; Home Care Direct, Stephens Home Health, and Connie Barham and CCS Hospice are also thanked for their very respectful and compassionate care of Mary through recent years. Ed Horton and the staff at Tanglewood Pharmacy were invaluable help.

The family suggests that to honor Mary Alice's memory, share a good book with a friend. For those wishing to make a donation, send memorials to the American Stroke Association of Dallas, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75231-4596 (1-888-478-7653) or to the Desdemona Volunteer Fire Department building fund, P.O. Box 86, Desdemona, Texas 76445.

Published Nov. 2, 2007

Stephenville Empire-Tribune