Herford Hering Bridges

Dec. 14, 1921 - Jan. 26, 2017

Herford Hering Bridges peacefully passed away on January 26, 2017 in Houston. He was a man who deeply loved his wife and working on his Angus cattle ranch. He was born in Pleasanton, Texas, on December 14, 1921, to William Thomas Bridges and Elmina West Bridges.

The funeral service will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, January 29, at First Baptist Church, 601 E Texas Avenue, Mart TX. The burial will be in Tow Cemetery in Tow TX on Monday.

Though valedictorian of his high school class in Charlotte, Texas, he was late to the graduation ceremony because he was playing a hot game of marbles. After graduation, he attended Tarleton College on a football scholarship. To go home or anywhere else, he had to hitchhike. He wore his Corps uniform to ensure he would get a ride. While at Tarleton, his friend and classmate, Leslie Hereford, showed him a photo of his beautiful 15-year-old sister, Annetta Shaw Hereford. Herford managed to finagle an invitation to their home for Thanksgiving break. Herford and Annetta married in Pleasanton on June 10, 1941, shortly after completing studies at Tarleton. He then attended Texas A&M University on a football scholarship. Their first child, Rayford Jasper Bridges, was born. Next came a daughter, Roxie Diane Bridges. In order to support his family, Herford went to work at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, building radios for airplanes.

Since one of his brothers was in the Navy during World War II, Herford joined the Navy. Annetta and the children moved in with her parents while he was away. After boot camp in California, Herford had the highest scores for his group and thus could choose what field he wanted to learn. He chose electronics school, an up-and-coming field. His job in the Navy was to install radios in airplanes and repair them, and other electronics tasks. During WWII, he was stationed several places, all stateside. When he was in Florida, Annetta surprised him by showing up unexpectedly on base--with the children and her younger sister Rose--so Herford quickly had to find a place for his family to live near the base. This was a happy time for the couple, as Rose babysat while Herford and Annetta went out, dancing and having fun. After Herford's discharge from the Navy in 1946, they moved to Grand Prairie, Texas, where he bought a dump truck to make a living. Then, Leslie Duane Bridges was born.

The family moved in with Herford's parents and younger siblings in Charlotte for a while, and then built a house on his parents' property. Herford helped his father farm crops and dig irrigation ditches.

Securing a loan for veterans, Herford and Annetta bought a farm near Leming, Texas, and moved their small house from Charlotte to this farm and enlarged the house. Both Michael Bradley Bridges and Brenda Gail Bridges were born in Poteet, Texas. Herford raised chickens, hogs, cattle, and a goat. Crops he produced were cotton, watermelons, corn, peanuts, sorghum, and hay. He also had a small fruit orchard. Herford worked too hard and suffered a heart attack at age 33. The doctor told him to quit farming or he would die soon. Herford decided to become a teacher, so he would have summers off to raise hay for his cattle. He and Annetta returned to college, this time at Texas A&I University in Kingsville. Herford recalled with smiles that they lived in a small travel trailer at that time; he called it their honeymoon. For a while, Annetta's parents took care of the children on the farm in Leming. Later, the family moved to housing near campus, including Annetta's mother to babysit the younger children.

Herford earned his degree first and commuted to Robstown, Texas, where he taught science. When Annetta completed her degree, the family moved to Natalia, Texas, for a year. Then they moved back to their farm near Leming. Herford was superintenent of Leming School. After a few years, Herford taught at Pleasanton High School.

When Roxie left home to attend Baylor University in Waco, Herford and Annetta quickly bought a ranch in Mart, near Waco, where he raised black Angus cattle, hay, and a large garden, and built a house, with Herford and his sons doing much of the work. The cattle had HA branded on them. Herford had designed this brand, which included his and his wife's first initials. He hand-picked large patches of special grass seeds, which he would save for planting the next year. He knew the names of all the grasses and recognized their seeds. Herford and Annetta taught at schools in Waco until retirement. He taught physics, chemistry, and earth sciences. Some summers he would take advanced math or other classes at Baylor.

Both Herford and Annetta were very active in the First Baptist Church in Mart, where their social lives were firmly based. His farmer father had been a part-time fire-and-brimstone pastor in Charlotte. Herford served as a deacon and later chairman of the deacons at the Mart church. Both sang in the choir. He taught Sunday school classes and Bible study and chaperoned teenagers on outings or retreats. He had more fun than the youngsters at the retreats.

Herford and Annetta went sightseeing in Greece, France, Scotland, England, Albania, and Italy. He loved to travel, driving across the continental U.S., Alaska, and Canada, stopping at national parks and sites and visiting relatives. He enjoyed life's simple pleasures: watermelon, ice cream, pecans, roasted peanuts, Dr. Pepper, his wild cat, being outdoors, picnics in the bluebonnets, singing songs with his daughters, playing in the water (competitive with a watergun), riding around looking at the scenery, and soaking in natural hot springs.

Until he was 82, Herford ran his beloved ranch that he had cared for and improved for decades. In 2003, he and Annetta moved to College Station. Even at 95 years of age, his hands were very strong, so many people avoided shaking hands with him.

This man made the most of every day.

Predeceasing Herford are his parents; his wife; his brothers, Jasper, Granvel, Rayford, Erskine; and sisters, Velva, Dona Lee, Janie.

He is survived by his brother, Verlon in McAllen; and his children, Rayford Bridges, Roxie Palczer and husband, Terry, Duane Bridges and wife, Suzanne, Michael Bridges and wife, Donna, and Brenda Bridges. Also surviving him are grandchildren, Marna Dawn Lovett and husband, George, Kari Ann Bridges, Darek Bridges, and Zach Bridges and wife, Rebekah; as well as Maren Bridges, whom he called his daughter.

In lieu of floral tributes, you might wish to make a donation to First Baptist Church, 601 E Texas Avenue, Mart TX 76664 or Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation at www.alzinfo.org/donate/donation_form/, or visit a resident in a long-term care facility.

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