In Memoriam: Mary Ruth Patranella, 1920-2020

Mary Ruth Patranella, the Assistant to the Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences Emerita at Texas A&M University, died on January 29. She was 99 years old.

Patranella was a native of Edge, Texas, and grew up on a family farm, where she learned how to plow behind a horse and pick cotton. After high school, she took classes at McKenzie-Baldwin Business College in Bryan, Texas. In 1939, she began her career at Texas A&M University at age 19 in the basement of the college’s poultry house, where she counted eggs for $2 a day.

Patranella began to rise in the ranks, and she worked in some capacity for every dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences until her retirement in 2010, shortly before her 90th birthday. At the time of her retirement, she was the university’s longest-serving staff member.

Patranella and her husband left College Station for Los Angeles during World War II, where she worked for Sears Roebuck while she waited for her husband to return from the war. But she resumed her work at Texas A&M after the couple moved back to Texas. Patranella took a brief break in service from 1949 to 1958 to raise her children. All four of her children graduated from Texas A&M University, as did her four grandchildren.

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