Visitors to the historic Linkville Pioneer Cemetery
might come across a headstone of a couple, Guy and Mary Porterfield. Mary Portfield lived from April 11, 1905 to December 11, 2009, making her over 104 years of age at the time of her passing. There is a very nice obituary writeup
on Ms. Porterfield located on Findagrave.com
On the morning of Dec. 17, 2009, the Basin lost another of its pioneer homesteaders. Mary Ruby Porterfield, age 104, died quietly in her sleep. Mrs. Porterfield was born on April, 11, 1905, in Myrtle Point, Ore., to Sarah (Lett) and Luther Williams. Seventeen years later in 1922, she married Guy Porterfield of Coos Bay, Ore., who she met while on a double date with her sister Ivy. Mr. Porterfield was her sister's date. The new couple got their start with a dairy in Myrtle Point.
In 1929, Mr. Porterfield, a Navy veteran, drew a homestead in Tulelake. By this time, two of the couple's five children Raymond and Harold were born. Mary and Guy put all of their belongings in Mary's brother's pickup with the children on top, drove over the Greensprings to Tulelake and built a shack to live in, all in one day.
Daughter Doris was born that same year in Tulelake. Sons Roger and Gary followed four years apart. According to Mary, all of her children were born at home. Mr. and Mrs. Porterfield later purchased nearby homesteads from neighbors, raised grain and potatoes, had a dairy, added Hereford heifers to the operation in the early 1940s, and obtained the legendary JF Ranch outside of Dorris, in 1944. Tragically, Guy was killed in an accident on the JF in 1945. Mr. and Mrs. Porterfield had already sold their interests in Tulelake so Mary and her children moved to the JF to raise cattle. Mary Porterfield was advised by many that a woman would not be able to run a ranch on her own. She had one son overseas in the Navy and two teenagers and two elementary school aged children at home. However, never one to be told she couldn't do something and always the accomplished business woman, Mary made a new start and even began to expand the JF ranch only three years later.
As the years passed, the ranch grew and eventually her sons bought her out. Operating under "Mary Porterfield and Sons" until the early 1960s, three of Mary's sons Harold, Roger, and Gary formed a partnership to establish the "Porterfield Ranch." Mary remained the bookkeeper for the ranch until she was 100 years old. Her determination led to a large and profitable cattle ranch that is still in operation.
In 2001, Mary Porterfield was named the "Pioneer Beef Woman of the Year" by the Siskiyou County Cattlewomen. The award recognizes women who dedicate their lives to the beef cattle industry in Siskiyou County, "…including various duties ranging from cattle management, farming and the many day-to-day work activities on the ranch."
With all of her skills in the world of ranching, Mary Porterfield always remained a true lady. Mary's style was always fashionable, modern, and she stayed up to date on the culture enjoyed by the younger members of her large family. She loved the piano and organ and attended church with her grandchildren. Mary also loved to travel with her siblings and friends, including to Europe with her brother Norman and niece Shirley, much of the United States, and, in her later years, even enjoyed white-water rafting with her sister Lottie on the Snake River. Mary loved, too, the beach, flowers, especially roses, and playing cards and belonged to a pinochle club until she reached 100.
Mary Porterfield's ethical character and persistence were a model to her children and grandchildren. She was an avid reader and taught her children and grandchildren how important reading is in life. She fervently supported education and encouraged all of her family to pursue a college education and most of them did. Mary was the consummate mother and aunt. In addition, she was without a doubt the best grandma to her grandchildren, each of whom thought they were her favorite. She never missed a game, graduation or birthday as long as she was able. She was parent, friend and counselor to all. She loved every member of her family, unconditionally.
Mary Porterfield was a remarkable woman who devoted her life to her family and to ranching. Her indomitable spirit was an inspiration to all who know her. When surrounded by her many offspring at family gatherings, she would grin and proudly say "Look at what I started."
Mrs. Porterfield is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law Roger and Darlene Porterfield and Harold and Ruth Porterfield of Dorris; grandchildren and their spouses Carol and Doug Castle of Klamath Falls, Janice and Rich Cable of Libby, Mont., Rusty and Nancy Porterfield of Mount Shasta, Calif., Dana and Tim O'Connor of Merrill, Darla and Tom Nonella of Klamath Falls, Guy Porterfield, Chet and Tara Porterfield, and Jill and Dave Tafoya, all of Macdoel, Jeff Fotheringham of Merrill, Gwyn and Matt Anglin of Seattle, Wash., Todd Porterfield of Portland, and Jackie Porterfield of Redding, Calif.; 20 great-grandchildren; 13 great-great-grandchildren; lifelong friend Nelly Takacs; special friends Joyce Reed, Lorena Berg, and Mary Cushman; and numerous nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents Sarah (Lett) and Luther Williams, Mary was preceded in death by her husband Guy Porterfield, granddaughters Krista Porterfield and Kaaren Mary Porterfield, her siblings Clarence, Ivy, Charles, Earl, Arthur, Lottie, Lewis, and Norman; and her children and their spouses Ray and Virginia Porterfield, Gary and Connie Porterfield, and Doris and Walt Fotheringham.