Ernestine Van Buren was born Grace Ernestine Orrick on February 6, 1918, the fifth child of nine, to Arkney Jane Stanford and Roscoe Conkling Orrick, in the picturesque town of Huntington, Arkansas. The Orrick family moved to East Texas on Thanksgiving Day 1926, where her father was employed by the Malakoff Fuel Co. She graduated Salutatorian from Malakoff High School in 1934, then at age 16, enrolled in Mary Hardin Baylor College as a Spanish major, graduating with honors in 1937. After a brief teaching career, she moved to Dallas in 1941 working as a bilingual secretary for the Esteve Bros., cotton merchants from Barce-lona, Spain. During World War II, Ernestine was secretary to the chief of the Personnel Dept. of North American Aviation. At war's end North American Aviation closed abruptly, but as a result of a contact made there, she soon became executive secretary to noted Texas oilman Clint W. Murchison, Sr. On March 1, 1952 Ernestine married Robert Bruce Van Buren, a geologist with DeGolyer MacNaughton, an international oil exploration firm. They were parents of one son, Robert Bruce Van Buren, Jr. In 1965 Ernestine began graduate studies at SMU, earning a Master's degree in Spanish literature. She was active in Dallas Geological and Geophysical Auxiliary, Geoflorette Garden Club, the Helen Poe Study Club and El Circulo Espanol. A devoted member of Highland Park Presbyterian Church since 1946, she was actively engaged in Presbyterian Latin American Auxiliary, taught conversa-tional Spanish for Friday Fellowship, served as Moderator of the Women of HPPC, was Board member for the Presbyterian Historical Association of the Southwest and served as an Elder in the HHPC Session. Ernestine is survived by her youngest brother, Robert E. Orrick, her son Robert Van Buren, daughter-in-law Diane Couch Van Buren, two grandsons Theodore and Laurence Van Buren, three nieces Sandra Shaw, Barbara Shaw Anderson and Virginia Griffin Brereton and two nephews David and William Griffin. She was author of two biographies: The Story of Margueritte Mizell, Missionary in China and Clint, the Biography of Clinton Williams Murchison. She also enjoyed writing poetry. A Memorial service for Ernestine will be held in Wynne Chapel of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, July 12, at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Good Shepherd Community Center, 4931 Bernal Dr. Dallas, TX 75212, or Faith Presbyterian Hospice, 4350 Sigma Rd. Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75244.
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Published in Dallas Morning News from July 7 to July 10, 2013