Lurline Juanita Bell Owens Burns passed away in the early morning hours of Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, at the age of 96, lovingly surrounded by her family in El Paso, Texas.
Lurline was born to Roy L. Bell and Alice Graham Bell in Wichita Falls, Texas on Nov. 28, 1921. Lurline spent her early years in Southland, Texas before moving at the age of 11 to Rankin, Texas, where Roy was the depot agent for the Santa Fe Railroad for 47 years and Alice was an employee of the United States Postal Service and the T. L. Stevenson Trucking Company. Lurline graduated in 1938, from Rankin High School, where she excelled in academics, band and basketball. Even in her 90s, she fondly recalled her time on the basketball team. She met Al J. Owens during her senior year in high school and they married on Dec. 24, 1937. She was soon busy rearing daughters Peggy (born 1939), Karen (born 1945), Janis (born 1949) and Vicki (born 1957). Simultaneously, she served a crucial supporting role in Al’s sheep ranching operation. When Al left the ranching business, she worked for the Rankin School District as a cafeteria employee and school bus driver. After 29 years of marriage, Al passed suddenly in 1966. Lurline then worked in Rankin as a clerk at the Dunn Lowery Insurance Agency and as a waitress at a local cafe, where she later met Bill Burns. They married in 1968 and lived in many places, including Lurline’s beloved Wyoming, where she developed an appreciation of the Teton Mountains that stayed with her for the rest of her life. After they settled in Springer, in 1977, Lurline worked in an administrative capacity at American Flyers flight school near Gene Autry, and as a medical insurance clerk at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Ardmore for nine years before retiring in 1991.
During her time in Oklahoma, Lurline resumed her membership in Beta Sigma Phi, which she first joined in Rankin in 1955. She cherished the meaningful and supportive friendships developed over the course of more than 50 years of her affiliation with the sorority. Her Beta Sigma Phi sisters in Ardmore helped sustain her through her grief over Bill’s passing in 1997 after 29 years of marriage.
Lurline and her beloved dog, Nicki moved with Janis to El Paso, Texas in 2014.    
Lurline, like her namesake, the steamer Lurline Burns, weathered many storms in her life including the sudden losses of Al, stepson Ronald in 1976 and daughter Karen in 1977, and the passing of Bill after a protracted illness. Despite these hardships, Lurline loved life. She loved nature and was a consummate gardener. She loved her dogs Tish, Jody, Amy and Nikki. She loved cooking wonderful meals, sewing, participating in Beta Sigma Phi and spending time with friends. Most of all, she loved her parents, siblings, husbands Al and Bill, daughters and stepson, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And we loved her.
Lurline is preceded in death by her daughter, Karen McCallister; stepson, Ronald J. Burns; husbands, Al Owens and Bill Burns; sister, Mary Bell Mims in 2014; brother, Howard Bell in 2015; beloved niece, Nancy Mims Greer in 2000; nephew, David Mims in 2011; sisters-in law Joann Bell in 2010 and Merlene Bell in 2013; and brother-in-law James Mims in 2017. She is survived by her daughters, Peggy Crawford of Davis, Janis Owens-Martinez (husband, Arturo) of El Paso and Vicki Barrett (husband Brian) of Ardmore; brothers, Bobby Bell (wife, Claire) of Snyder and Roy L. Bell Jr. (wife, Tawana Jo) of Odessa; 10 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and several great-great-grandchildren.
The memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Midland, Texas on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018.