Marie Cross Our beloved Marie Cross passed away peacefully Friday night, the 26th of February in Gatesville, Texas. She lived a long and enjoyable 81 years with a twinkle in her eye and a gentle and generous heart. Marie was born in Austin on February 7, 1929 to Ivan and Annie Mae Reed Campbell. She attended Metz Elementary, Allan Junior High and graduated from Austin High School. In 1945, she married a 20-year-old Army Air Corps 2nd lieutenant flyboy by the name of Jim Cross. They met at the skating rink when she deliberately stuck out her foot to trip him and then rushed to his aid after he fell. She was only 16, but had the spunk to hop aboard his Harley and take to the open road in her free time. Duty called the flyboy to China near the end of WWII, so Marie moved back to her parents' home until the war ended. She then followed her husband all over the globe early in their marriage and made countless friends throughout the world. Everywhere they were stationed, Marie turned a house into a loving home for herself, her husband and, eventually, their children. June came first, then Jeanie, followed by Joanie and John. She was the best mom a child could ask for, the best wife and the best friend anyone could have. She was truly devoted to making those around her happy. Her husband served as Air Force One pilot and military aide to President Lyndon Johnson. Marie was Jim's loyal co-pilot in life and love. During those hectic White House years, Marie ably provided a stable and happy home for their children even though she often didn't know where Jim was or when he would get home from a presidential trip. At times, television, radio and newspapers provided the only clues to his whereabouts. She never lost her good cheer and playful sense of humor despite the White House telephones by their bed that rang all hours of the night. In retirement, Marie and Jim enjoyed a country life. Age never interfered in their delight in swinging from a rope and jumping into the creek for a refreshing swim. In her mid-70s, she even got on the back of a jet ski with Jim at the controls, just as she had hopped aboard that motorcycle decades earlier. She looked forward to "toddy time" every afternoon when she had a martini with an olive and onions. Her seven-layer chocolate cake transported everyone lucky enough to have it. Once a year, she got up to her elbows in tomatoes, mashing them by hand to make homemade ketchup that won fans from coast to coast. She looked forward to watching NASCAR and dancing to country music. She opened their home to family, friends and even friends of friends, delighting in finding ways to make each person feel special and right at home. She kept a bottomless candy dish filled with everyone's favorite snack-size chocolate bars. And she packed a lunch for Jim when he worked the ranch, always scribbling a little note on the napkin. Marie was smart and organized; she kept the ranch ledgers, did the taxes and paid the bills. And she always took the time to drive the country roads with Jim to admire the outdoors and enjoy the adventure. Marie was loved by many, admired by more, and cherished by those who knew her true spirit. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. James U. Cross, a former commander of Bergstrom Air Force Base; daughters Jeanie (Bill) Stark of Round Rock, Texas, and Joanie (Doug) MacLean of Huntington Beach, California; and a son, John (Sherry) Cross of Liberty Hill, Texas. She is also survived by a sister, Jeanette (Bobby) Gruetzner; six grandchildren: James (Jenny) McCann, Mandy (Jason) Wells, Jake MacLean, Kelly MacLean, Kimberley David and Reed Cross; and four great grandchildren: Kate and Emily McCann, Rowen Wells and Clarissa David; and numerous nieces and nephews. Waiting for her at the pearly gates to Heaven were her parents; her brother, Felton Lee Campbell; her daughter, June Marie Cross Rainwater; and her granddaughter, Chloe Ann Cross. A visitation will be held from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Thursday at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 2620 S. Congress Avenue in Austin. Honorary pallbearers will be Edgar Prinz, Jake MacLean, Chuck Fromme, Harry Middleton, Larry Temple, Ron Thomas, René Alvarez, Jason Wells, Lee Roy Shepperd, Reed Cross, Elliot Martin, Duane Gruetzner, and Bob Hardesty. Marie will be interred at Pleasant Home Baptist Church cemetery near Andalusia, Alabama. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Coryell Memorial Hospital Foundation, 1511 West Main, Gatesville, TX, 76528.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Mar. 2, 2010.