Willeta Marie (Stevens) Clayton
Willeta went to be with her Lord on Tuesday, August 27, 2019. She passed away at her home, the way she wished. Willeta was born on February 5, 1923 to T.W. and Ida Stevens in Estelline, Texas. Willeta was the eighth of nine children in her family and she was the last living of her nine siblings. She was raised in Texas and New Mexico. Willeta met the love of her life, Buster Clayton, in 1935 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. On May 15, 1937, 14 year old Willeta married 16 year old Buster Clayton (he was one month shy of 17). Willeta and Buster moved to California in 1939. They resided in Oakland during the war so Buster could work in the shipyards as a welder. They returned to Chowchilla after the war, and in July 1946 they purchased their 20 acre farm where Willeta has resided the past 73 years.
During their marriage, they raised dairy cows, hay, cotton, almonds, grapes and their three daughters. Willeta was always an involved Mom. She was the 4-H leader in the Fairmead 4-H Club for 17 years and served on the election board at Fairmead School for over 40 years, which gave her the opportunity to get to know everyone in the Fairmead School District. Willeta was also a member of the Madera County Cattlewomen’s Association and was chosen as “Cowbelle of the year” in 2011.
Willeta was preceded in death by her parents T.W. and Ida Stevens, her husband Buster in 2004, her daughter Linda in 2015, grandson David in 2009, son-in-law Charles in 2019, her two brothers Virgil and Hollis Stevens, and her six sisters Bernice, Beulah, Bertha, Modena, Frances and Lois.
Willeta is survived by her two daughters Barbara Meharg of Madera and Darlean Calhoun and her husband Clif of Madera, her six grandchildren Debra Pendergrass and her husband Waymon, Michele Lindsay, Crystal Torres and her husband Pete, Cliff Calhoun and his wife Angela, Jonathan Meharg and his wife Kristi, and Kris Meharg, as well as her ten great-grandchildren, seven great-great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made in Willeta’s memory to Hinds Hospice of Merced: 410 W. Main Street, Merced, Ca 95340 or the American Cancer Society: 2222 W. Shaw Avenue, Suite 201, Fresno, Ca 93711-3420.
A Graveside Service will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 10:00 AM at Chowchilla Cemetery District in Chowchilla, Ca.
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