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Happy Trails to You

Monday, November 19, 2007

by Donna Parker

Thirty-eight years after Marjorie Mae Russell received her Bachelor of Arts degree in education in 1967, she is finally living her dream.

"My life is never the same and always a challenge," says this modern-day rancher, who owns 5,000 acres in West Texas.

It's a long way from her days as a junior high school science teacher. Now, she learns lessons the hard way - on horseback. On an average day, this 60-year-old adventurer rides the range to check for grassfires and inspect the windmills. She hops down to mend a fence, occasionally staying out three days to brand her cattle and select the best for market.

"You never produce the perfect steer or goat - you try, but no way."

She's spent 20 years establishing her place in an industry long ruled by men.

"Most men thought they knew more than I did. Some still do, but I don't pay any attention to it. You don't think of women managing ranches, but more than half of the ranching property in U.S. is now owned by women."

Marjorie believes small classes and individual attention at Trinity helped release her spirit. This small-town girl from Menard spent time on the tennis courts and enjoying an Earl Abel's slice of pie, but she sure didn't know what degree to pursue.

She was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and taught school for 15 years before investing in her commercial Black Angus operation.

Marjorie, single and with no children, dedicates her life to tending cattle even when the hot Texas sun scorches the earth.

"You go out anyway. Ranching doesn't give you much choice. If that means staying out past 100 degrees, then that's what I do. I'm happiest now doing what I always wanted to do."

When not on horseback, you'll catch her on an overseas flight. Marjorie has visited every continent except Australia and this fall, will cruise down the Yangtze River.

"Trinity taught me where to go and how to learn things."

At long last, Marjorie is home on the range.