Denton resident Harold Priddy, formerly of Lubbock and Ralls, Texas, passed away on April 23, 2013.
Born in Brundage, Texas on May 19, 1920 to Arthur and Vivian Priddy, Harold was the second of five children. Finishing high school at the height of the Great Depression Harold left south Texas in search of work. In Ralls he found employment at the local cotton compress. He met his future wife, Bertie Jo Shell, while working in the town. He was quickly promoted to traffic manager for the entire company. Following the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor, Harold enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a private and, equipped with only 4 years of a rural high school education, achieved the rank of major in only 33 months. As Chief of Materials Section, Air Transport Service, Harold played a pivotal role in one of the turning points of WWII. General George Patton's Third Army, having broken through initial Nazi resistance after the Allied invasion at Normandy in June of 1944, began driving so swiftly toward Germany that it had exhausted its gasoline supply by the end of August. Harold was able to commandeer sufficient resources from elsewhere within the European and North African theaters to get Patton and his forces back up and running, sparing a deadly prolongation of the war.
For his contribution, General Charles DeGaulle awarded Harold the French War Cross with Silver Star. Harold remained in what became the Air Force Reserves after leaving active service in 1946, ultimately retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
On January 1, 1946, he married Bertie Jo, the sweetheart that he had met in Ralls. During 45 years together in Ralls they owned and operated a successful family grain business. Harold contributed his time and leadership to professional groups at both the state and national level, including serving as President of the Texas Grain and Feed Association. He was very active in local civic groups including a long-time membership in the Ralls Chapter of Rotary. At different times he served as Ralls' mayor, fire marshal and civil defense director.
For thirty years he and Bertie participated in a host family program sponsored by Texas Tech University for international students. Scores of students from over 45 nations enjoyed food and fellowship in their home. Harold taught many of those students how to water-ski and sail.
Following retirement, Harold volunteered at the Reese Air Force Base pharmacy and as a reading tutor for elementary students during many winters spent in the Rio Grande Valley. He continued to be active after moving to Denton in 2003, putting his talent for fixing things to good use through volunteer work at Ruth's Room, a Habitat for Humanity resale shop as well as contributing items to be sold at First United Methodist Church's Alternative Gifts Fair.
During their 64 years of marriage, he and Bertie enjoyed traveling throughout the United States in their Airstream trailer. They travelled extensively abroad, ultimately setting foot on six of the world's seven continents. They were avid bridge players, loved square dancing, and were early pioneers in low-carb eating. Harold enjoyed wood working and doing battle with trumpet vines.
Harold was humble and gentle, convicted and principled; personally frugal and always generous. He was grounded in reality yet always sought to see the best in others. Harold will be remembered for the kindness he extended to all those he knew, the quiet wisdom that he shared and for the example he set for others in always trying to "raise his sights."
He was a member of First United Methodist Church of Denton and of its Bungalow Sunday School class. He was previously a member of United Methodist Churches in Lubbock and Ralls.
Harold is preceded in death by his wife, Bertie Jo, his parents, and by his brothers Pierson and Jean. He is survived by his sisters, Betty Mallay of Houston and Clara Pile and her husband Stafford of Indianapolis, his daughter, Jo Ann Grossman of Houston, his son, John Priddy of Denton, John's wife, Jean, and their daughter, Gillian, his sole grandchild. He leaves behind many friends in Denton, especially his good buddy Kris Kristofferson and the neighbors and staff at Good Samaritan Lake Forest.
A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday morning, April 27 at 10:00 am at First United Methodist Church, Denton, Texas. The Rev. Lisa Blaylock and Rev. Don Lee will officiate.
A funeral service for Harold will be held on Sunday afternoon, April 28 at 2:00 pm at First United Methodist Church, 517 Watts Avenue in Ralls, Texas. The Rev. Lisa Blaylock will officiate. Interment will follow in the family plot in Ralls, Texas.
The family suggests memorials be made to the Friends of Music at 1st United Methodist Church, Denton, 1st United Methodist Church, Ralls or to a charity of one's choice.
Surely, the greatest insanity is to see the world only as it is, and not as it might be. - Cervantes.