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Magers' funeral set for MondayLinda Bailey Potter 02.FEB.07Alpine – Bill Ivey informed Border Hotline News that a graveside service for Judy Ann Magers, the “Burro Lady,” is set for 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 5, at the Terlingua Cemetery. Judy died Jan. 26 at her campsite near Sierra Blanca. She had been a resident of the area for many years. Magers' funeral cancelled until further noticeLinda Bailey Potter 01.FEB.07ALPINE – According to Bill Ivey, after talking to Judy Ann Magers' daughter, the funeral originally planned for the “Burro Lady” in Terlingua this afternoon, Feb. 1, has been cancelled until her family has had a chance to make the arrangements for her burial, which is still planned for Terlingua.
I think the state of Texas should declare that stretch of road looping from Van Horn south to Terlingua, La Jitas, North to Alpine, Ft. Davis looping back to 54 as the Judy Magers Memorial Trail. This scenic route should be marked with brown signs printed in tan showing a lone mounted figure riding a Burro...what do ya'll think?
I have e-mailed ya'lls local News Papers Alpine/Marfa...but this should be a grass roots effort from the area that Judy loved the most. Maybe a petition drive, maybe a letter to the editor campaign...Ya'll live there I need ya'lls input and suggestions... and I need you to help contact the right folks in the right places.
Magers was ‘wild as the wind’ but it was a wind she knew ‘Burro Lady’ in 2002 as she was leaving Marathon for Alpine on Hwy 90 in front of the Marathon Motel. photo courtesy of James Evans Linda Bailey Potter 04.FEB.07ALPINE – Judy Ann Magers, the “Burrow Lady,” died from natural causes Friday, Jan. 26, at her campsite near Sierra Blanca. She came from a ranching family, raised on the great plains of Nebraska, and was born to Ike and Cleta Magers Sept. 25, 1941, she was 65 years of age. Local residents tried to get her to go to shelters during the recent cold winter weather but she said that she couldn’t leave her burro. “Judy and her donkey will long be remembered as icons of the free spirit and generosity among residents that is so unique to West Texas,” Bill Ivey said. “Recognized by thousands of people that traveled the highways by car, Judy Magers is perhaps the most famous ‘unknown’ person that has ever lived in this part of the State.”She was “wild as the wind” said her daughter Jane Wood Burke of Newell, S. D. Meaning that she was a cowgirl from the word go, and rode horses bareback as a girl growing up in a ranching/western environment. “She always thought that someone was after her,” Burke said. An aunt in Kansas raised Judy and Judy’s father lived just as she did, Burke said.It has been years since Burke saw or talked to her mother. “The last time I talked to her on the phone she said that she didn’t look good.” Burke and her siblings all tried to give her money and help over the years but that Judy wouldn’t hear of it. She was not one for handouts. Burke had talked to a deputy some years ago and he checked on her mother and said that she was O.K. and that people were looking after her. He promised to call if anything happened.Judy has five children from three marriages. Two sons, Clay Gilman, Fellows, Calif., and Clint Wood from Wickenburg, Ariz.; and three daughters, Jane (Wood) Burke, Newell, S.D., Tonya Wilson of Mandan, N.D., and Mandy (Freeman) Ohlheiser, also from Wiliston, N.D.Lt. Tom Burns, Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office, told Border Hotline that he remembers Judy being around Van Horn on her burro as early as 1975. Ivey remembers her in the 80s at Lajitas and then in Terlingua.Ivey said that he remembers Judy first camping out in Colorado Canyon in what is now the Big Bend Ranch State Park. He and others would take her food and check on her. Then when the ranch was sold to the State, she was moved to Lajitas. Judy told Ivey that she wanted to be buried in “Terlingua Boot Hill,” with her boots and spurs on. Burke said that this was interesting as Deadwood Boot Hill, S. D. is not far from where she lived and that it’s where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane are buried, as well as other historic western figures. There are many locals in the Big Bend area who befriended Judy over the years, if nothing else, keeping tabs on her. If the dates are correct, she must have come to this area in her late 20s/early 30s, which means that she lived here from 35 to 40 years. But, Judy was no doubt a loner, preferring to live under the big Texas sky and starlit nights camping out with her burro. She had at some point in time been declared by the courts as “mentally incompetent.” The government declared Ivey as her guardian so that she could receive social security checks for her disability.For many this idea to live as she did would be considered “crazy.” However, something must have happened to Judy as she dealt with the routine of life that made her realize that she was having problems coping. So, she went back to the only thing that she knew for sure, and that was as living as a cowgirl once more. It is what she knew and for her it must have given her solace, which gave her the ability to stay here as long as she did. And, south Brewster County was a place where anyone can live and let live without interference from society. The way a person lives it their business is their motto. So, Judy was in good hands, they let her be and she must of felt at home in the beautiful Chihuahuan Desert, a place that probably that reminded her of a time in her life when she was the happiest, on the Kansas plains.
'Burro Lady' rides into the sunset at age 65"As tough, as independent and as kind-hearted as West Texas," is how Rebecca Pape remembers her friend, Judy Ann Magers, who passed away Friday, Jan. 26, at her campsite in Hudspeth County near Sierra Blanca.Affectionately known as the "Burro Lady" Magers had been a fixture in the Big Bend and beyond, often seen riding her donkey up and down the roadways and interstate highways of West Texas. Living off the land, she became a welcomed personality and part-time resident in all communities from Sanderson to El Paso.While one of the best-liked people in West Texas, very few people even knew her name. Bill Ivey, who was a rafting guide on the Rio Grande when Magers first came to the area in the 1980's was one of the few. Contrary to some of the wilder rumors, Magers was not independently wealthy, but lived on Social Security payments. Lacking a fixed address other than "On the land, Terlingua, Texas," it was Ivey who was authorized to receive her checks and handle her modest financial transactions. Even so, he knew very little about her past, or her daily routine. Attempts to contact her only known survivor, Sue Johnson of South Dakota, have so far been unsuccessful. Pape believes Magers was from California originally. "She just didn't talk about her past. When I met her, she was camping on the Colorado Canyon run-in. She wouldn't accept charity, and insisted on paying for everything. She later moved to Lajitas, where I ran the trading post and got to know her," Ivey recalled. Her legal guardian, even he was surprised to learn she still kept a valid drivers license. "She once owned a Cadillac, but removed the back seat so her donkey could ride in comfort," Ivey said.He didn't know the burro's name, but everyone at the Triangle Market did-Merle."She loved Merle. We all loved Merle," said Pape.Pape and her employees at Alpine's Triangle Market looked forward to visits from "Miss Judy" and Merle the Burro. As did Merle. The Triangle Market was a regular stop for Magers and Merle, who particularly enjoyed his sour-apple green lollipop. Pape added she hoped Merle receives a lifetime supply of his favorite treat, though not more than one a day, since sugar probably isn't healthy for burros.Magers lived as she wanted. She was not anti-social, or a recluse, but rather a tough-minded, free-spirited woman who chose, like other Big Bend residents, to maintain her independence at all costs. She would talk to people, but not about her past. Folks remember her as sensible and coherent, well-spoken and polite. But fiercely independent."She had two sides. There was a softness and gentleness in her love for Merle, and toughness. She was as tough as the West Texas weather," Pape said.Her tough, gentle, free-spirited heart simply gave out. She was 65 years old when Border Patrol agents discovered her near death last Friday.Funeral arrangements are pending. By her own request, Magers will be buried at "Boot Hill" in Terlingua. Always scrupulous about paying her own way, Magers insisted on paying Ivey $5 every time he delivered supplies, or brought her cash. The several hundred dollars Ivey put away over the years, $5 at a time, will help defray some funeral expenses, and the Hudspeth County Commissioners Court has also made a donation.Hudspeth County Judge Becky Dean-Walker also took temporary custody of Merle. She is quite happy to keep him, but would be willing to give him a home where he'll receive the care and affection he'd come to know."That burro ate better than Judy did," said Ivey.Donations for outstanding costs, a headstone and lollipops for Merle can be sent to the Judy Magers Memorial Fund, c/o St. Agnes Church, P.O. Box 295, Terlingua, TX 79852.
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