Edna Kathryn Johnson Duff was born Nov. 13, 1914, in Raymondville, Mo., to Andy P. Johnson, a longtime Texas County farmer and sheriff, and Maude Purcell Johnson, who died when Edna was only nine.

She was a descendant of longtime Texas County settlers, and her great grandfather, William Franklin Trail, founded the town of Raymondville, giving the land for both the Raymondville School and the Methodist church. Edna grew up in the Raymondville community, and she attended both the church and the school that her great grandfather had helped to establish. After graduating from the Raymondville School, she went to Houston High School, where she graduated with the class of 1931, of which she was the last surviving member.

In 1934, Edna married William Howard Duff, the son of another longtime Texas County family. The young couple first lived in Springfield and then in Willow Springs, where they owned a Western Auto store and later purchased several other stores where Edna often worked with her husband. Their two children spent their early years in Willow Springs. Deann Duff was born in 1941 and William Michael Duff was born in 1945.

Edna was an active and loving parent, with a growing circle of friends in Willow Springs. She belonged to Chapter FW of P.E.O. and a bridge club there, and was a devoted member of the Methodist Church.

In 1955, the Duff family moved to Houston, where they owned a second Western Auto store. They joined the Houston United Methodist Church, of which Edna was an active and supportive member for the rest of her life. She also enjoyed meeting with friends at the Tuesday Study Club and playing bridge with her bridge clubs in both Willow Springs and Houston.

It was an important goal of Edna and Bill to provide an education for their children. Deann graduated from Stanford Law School and Michael graduated Oxford University and Washington University Medical School. Edna was proud to say that she had a doctor and a lawyer.

Edna loved gardening, and she could often be found outdoors, working in her yard and tending the flowers and trees. She knew the name and history of every plant there, and she loved sharing whatever was blooming — such as her beloved magnolias and daffodils.

She also made her house a welcoming and beautiful place. That house became a gathering place for a wide circle of family and friends, spanning the generations. Edna’s warm hospitality was generous and genuine from the minute she greeted you at the door, you felt welcome and “at home,” and soon found yourself sitting in the living room or at the kitchen table with Edna and a cup of tea — and probably something delicious just out of her oven. For Edna was a wonderful and creative cook, who loved to share her cooking. Her large collection of recipes is treasured by her family and friends, as we remember and celebrate her by making “Edna’s strawberry pie: or hot rolls or Ozark blackberry cobbler. Whatever she did — whether cooking or gardening or visiting — was an expression of what one friend, called her “loving spirit.”

For, while Edna excelled at many things, her warm friendships were perhaps the pinnacle. One you were Edna’s friend, you were her friend for life, sharing good times and bad. And she was an active friend, quick to go visiting, bearing food or home-grown flowers, to anyone who had suffered a loss or was ill. If something needed to be done, Edna took care of it. And if you were far from Houston, Edna kept in touch with lively letters, always beginning with a Texas County weather report and ending with “a hug and a pat” and sometimes enclosing a recipe!

Edna and Bill Duff celebrated 53 years of marriage. After Bill died in1987, Edna lived on in their home on the outskirts of Houston until failing health made it necessary for her to move to Houston House in 2010. She died there on April 14, 2011.

Edna was preceded in death by her parents and five brothers and sisters.

She is survived by her daughter, Deann Duff Johnson and husband, Robert; her son William Michael Duff and wife, Susan; four grandchildren, Amy Deaton Smith, Katherine Duff Smith, Jennifer Duff Macneil and John Trail Duff; a great-grandchild, Carter Grayson Macneil; as well as two sisters, Joyce Cline and Marivonne Langham. Other survivors include nieces, nephews and cousins, as well and a host of loving friends.

We will all remember Edna for her lifelong and always generous love and support of family, friends and church and for the lively interest and appetite for life that kept her going for ninety-six years. Just a few days ago, she was thinking about her flowerbeds and getting them ready for the spring and summer flowers to come. As her daughter Deann said, Edna “stayed true to herself” for all the years of a long and beautiful life.

Services were 10 a.m. Monday April 18, 2011, at Houston United Methodist Church with Jay Frost officiating. Pallbearers were Debo McKinney, Billie Bilderback, Chalky Wells, Bill Johnson, Vaughn Skaggs and David Duff. Honorary pallbearers were W.E. Duff, Ross Duff and Hal Duff. Burial followed in Allen Cemetery under the direction of Evans Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to The Texas County Library. Online condolences may be sent to www.evansfh.com.

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