MARY JO PONSFORD MELBY
Mary Jo Ponsford Melby is a fifth generation Texan and a third generation El Pasoan.
Her great, great grandparents Rebecca and Henry Hester Robertson arrived in our state by
covered wagon in the 1800's and settled in Whitesboro, a small community north of
Dallas. Her great grandfather, Calvin Simpson, served as mayor of Whitesboro for
several terms and her other great grandfather, Silas B. Cowell was elected Texas State
Senator from Grayson County for two terms. He was appointed by Governor Pat Neff as
the first Chairman ofthe Board of Controls of Texas. Governor Neff also appointed
Senator Cowell to chair a five member committee charged with determining the location
for Texas Tech College (later University). Senator Cowell's wife, Mary Florence Cowell
was the "Mother of P.E.O. Sisterhood" in Texas having organized Chapter A in
Whitesboro in 1902. She later became the first president ofP.E.O. 's State Chapter.
P.E.O. is an organization that promotes higher education for women both in the United
States and internationally.
Arriving in El Paso in 1897, the Ponsford family became pioneer contractors and built
many historic homes and buildings in the region. Kate and H.T. Ponsford had nine
children and all nine lived and worked in El Paso all of their lives. Mary Jo's
grandfather, H.T. Ponsford was joined by his five sons in the family firm. All four
daughters became teachers. H.T. Ponsford and Sons were the General Contractors for the
Plaza Theatre as well as the Sun Bowl football stadium. They worked closely with the
pioneer architect Henry Trost whose designs they greatly admired.
Mary Jo and her late husband Everett Melby both graduated from the University of Texas
in Austin as did their three children Kinn Melby, Kathy Melby and Vicki Melby. Mary
Jo received a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from the University of Texas
in 1963. An avid Longhorn fan, Mary Jo had the good fortune to be born on March 2nd,
Texas Independence Day.
Coldwell Grade School - First Grade
Mesita Grade School- Graduated in 1954
El Paso High School- Graduated in 1958
University of Texas, Austin
Graduated in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interior Design
Mary Jo represented the Woman's Club ofEl Paso in the 1959 Sun Carnival
Court and the American Association of University Women in the Fabens Cotton
OUTSTANDING EL PASO HIGH EX - MARY JO MELBY
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