Bobbie Jean Klepper, of Fort Worth, Texas, died Sunday, November 9, 2014, at Community Hospice in Arlington, Texas. She was 81 years old and had battled declining health for several months.
Born on August 1, 1933, in Matador, Texas, Bobbie Jean, as she was known to her family, was the eldest of three daughters born to Robert Franklin and Florence Alice Pruitt. Mr. Pruitt was a widower with a son and a daughter when he married Florence.
Bobbie Jean was married to Robert Junior York in 1950 and divorced from him in 1969. They had four children, two daughters and two sons. She married Richard Edward Klepper in 1971, and their marriage lasted until his death in 1991. They had one son.
She was devoted to her family and was involved in school activities, served as a Cub Scout den mother and introduced her children to museums and other cultural platforms. Beginning with the births of her grandchildren, she crocheted baby blankets for all the new babies. Possession of one of Aunt Bobbie’s covers was a point of pride for the recipients. Her legendary love of a good cup of coffee and her ability to cajole a refill are fond memories. She would watch for someone getting out of a chair and say something like, “While you’re up, I need some more coffee. My cup has a hole in it, right here in the top.”
Insatiably curious and loving learning, Bobbie Jean graduated as Salutatorian of the 1950 Senior Class of Nocona High School. When she was in her early thirties, she started working toward a college degree, taking one or two courses at a time, nights and weekends. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history with a teacher’s certification from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 1975, followed in 1977 by a Master of Arts Degree in history, also from UTPB. In 1989 she earned a Master of Library Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas extension program at Texas Tech, and she was pursuing a doctoral level degree at Texas Women’s University in 1997 when not one, but two, strokes forced her to slow down a bit.
Bobbie Jean was passionate about history and historical preservation. She was employed as a graduate assistant in the archival collections housed at UTPB as a student, and she eventually progressed to Archivist/Special Collections Librarian, a position she held for more than twenty years. She and her archives were resources valued by students, researchers, journalists, and authors; and her font of information and entertaining presentation made her a popular choice as a speaker in professional, educational, historical, and religious venues.
She often said that she fell in love with archival work and was thrilled that someone was willing to pay her to do something she loved so much that she would have done it for free. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and several of her student assistants actively procured for the archives the donation of county records, photographs, and other items of historical significance. One of her students became a museum curator. Through her involvement with the Permian Historical Society, Bobbie Jean was instrumental in the procurement, preservation, and restoration of the White-Pool house, the oldest existing residence in Odessa, and the preservation of the historical home of the Henderson Drug Store. She was active in numerous organizations and held offices in the Permian Historical Society, White-Pool House Friends, Ector County Historical Commission, Odessa Cultural Council, Heritage of Odessa Foundation, and University Library Friends. She received the Heritage of Odessa Foundation Community Statesman Award in the field of Humanities in 1991 and the Permian Historical Society Academy of History Award in 2001. In addition, articles she wrote that were published in the Permian Historical Annual received the Best Article Award given by the Society in 1980 and again in 1998.
Bobbie Jean was a life-long follower of Jesus Christ, having accepted his offer of salvation during Vacation Bible School when she was eight years old. Her desire for Christian fellowship led her to intimate involvement with her church. She was a long-time member of Second Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas, where she served as church librarian for fifteen years. She also taught children’s and ladies’ Sunday School classes, led Bible study groups, held offices in the Women’s Missionary Union, directed the Girls’ Auxiliary, served on a pastor search committee, and, of course, assisted with Vacation Bible Schools. At the time of her death, she was a member of Lamar Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, and a valued participant in her Sunday School class.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Richard Edward Klepper; her daughter, Kathryn Ann York; her half-brother, R. F. Pruitt; her half-sister, Mattie Lou Messick; and her sister, Wanda Ruth Graham.
She is survived by four children and their spouses, Susan Kay Bowman (Stan), Robert Allen York (Ginger), John Michael York (Charleen), and Richard Samuel Klepper (Lori); and her sister Martha Rose Grant; six grandchildren; and thirteen great-grandchildren.