Cover photo for Vernelle Stoneman Hightower's Obituary
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1925 Vernelle 2024

Vernelle Stoneman Hightower

May 15, 1925 — January 3, 2024

Ancho, New Mexico

Vernelle Stoneman Hightower, 98, went to be with her Lord Jesus on January 3, 2024. Vernelle was born to Eva Lee and Charles Stoneman in Brownfield, Texas, on May 15, 1925.

When she was 3 years old her father died. So, her grandmother, Mary Stoneman, took Vernelle, her mother, and little sister, Margie, (Wee) into her home. When Vernelle was 7, her mother married WD (Bud) Brininstool. The happy marriage produced a son, Walter. However, when Eva had her fourth child, she died, and the baby soon after. Vernelle was 10. Bud married again, and he and Inas welcomed Vernelle and her siblings into their family.

Even though times were tough, she was grateful to the Brininstool family for taking care of her, Wee and Walter. She said she and Wee would never have survived without one another. These hard times gave her a special place in her heart for people in difficult circumstances. Vernelle graduated from high school in Carlsbad, NM, in 1943. She was visiting relatives in the Ancho area and met a quiet young man from a neighboring ranch. His name was John Allen Hightower. It was the middle of World War II and John Allen had been commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corp. They were married Dec. 3, 1944, and had 51 years together.

When the war was over and John Allen was discharged, he brought his wife to the family ranch where he was born and raised. There was no electricity in JA’s grandmother’s former house where they lived. Carbide lights were used instead. The propane gas man brought them a Maytag cook stove for the kitchen. Vernelle lived in this home for 77 years. Eventually, the REA came to hook up the lines for electricity. Vernelle learned many life skills for country living from her in-laws, Bryan and Ethel Hightower. Within a few years, sons Gary and Bill were added to their family. Vernelle used her homemaking skills to provide for her family. She cooked delicious meals (including wonderful pies), raised a garden, canned food, and sewed shirts for JA and the boys, and dresses for herself. Life in those days was more about time than money, and she made the most of it. Growing up in the Depression era, she learned to be extremely frugal and resourceful. She was a perfectionist in all she did. In the early days, there was a dirt road from Ancho to anywhere. Socializing included visiting neighbors, going to Church at Ancho, and attending country dances. The pace of life was slower, but there were many happy times.

Throughout the years, she enjoyed entering items such as baked goods, sewing projects, and produce from her garden in the Lincoln County fair. In 1964 and 1965 she won the Best Home Economics open class award by exhibiting the most winning
projects in that division. She was very proud of that achievement. Vernelle was a member of the Ancho Presbyterian Church and served in many roles throughout the years. She enjoyed playing cards: Canasta, Bridge, Liverpool Rummy and “42” dominoes. She enjoyed square dancing, china painting, and traveling. She loved nature and was always interested in people and places. She liked to read and was a lifelong learner. She was devoted to her family and spent lots of time with her grandchildren. Later in life she enjoyed hosting ice cream parties for the great grandchildren. She was cofounder of Canyon Cowbelles and the Lincoln County Food Bank.

Vernelle was preceded in death by her husband John Allen Hightower: parents, Charles and Eva Stoneman; grandson Patrick Hightower; half brother Walter Brininstool: step parents, Bud and Inas Brininstool; stepbrothers Don, Bobby, and Gene Brininstool, and stepsisters, Joy Kline and Kay Andrews.

She is survived by her sons, Gary (Beth) Hightower and Bill (Susan) Hightower; her sister, Marge Schuetz. Grandchildren: Lisa (Todd) Kruger; Cheryl Vanier; Katherine Hightower; Mollie Hightower/Hubler(Brian); Bryan Hightower, Erin (Jarod) Eversole; Maddie (Leon) Oloya; Ariel (Zane) Maroney,10 great grandchildren, and special nieces and nephews.

Vernelle’s faith was an integral part of her life. Her faith gave her strength through the hard times and helped her appreciate the good times. A celebration of her life will be held at the Ancho Schoolhouse on Saturday, January 13, 2024 at 11:00. Burial will follow at the Cedarvale cemetery in White Oaks, NM.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Vernelle Stoneman Hightower, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am

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