The force of nature that was Nell Kennedy Owens Capt quietly shed her earthly bonds in the early morning of May 8, 2021.
She was born March 6, 1930, the only child of Charles Owens of Sabinal and Julia Jane Kennedy of Uvalde. Her early years were spent on her parents’ ranch outside of Sabinal, playing with a pet javalina, riding a pony named Black Beauty, and assembling a stunning paper doll collection.
Thereafter, she and her mother moved into the Getty Street home of her grandparents George and Ella Kennedy.
She attended the old West Main school for several years before going to Incarnate Word, in San Antonio. She then moved on to St. Mary’s Hall, where she thrived and made lifelong friends, finishing her high school career. She attended Fairfax Hall, in Waynesboro, Virginia, for a year, where she refined her seat in an English saddle exercising ponies in Virginia horse country with a classmate.
She returned to Texas to pursue a degree in history at the University of Texas.
While in college, she taught kindergarten at the Tiny Workshop on Rio Grande, and she was especially proud of her kindergartners, who performed the Posada under her direction one Christmas. She was named to the 1951 Fiesta Court of the Thousand Nights and a Night as an “out-of-town” duchess representing the City of Brass, Uvalde. (Her Fiesta gown is in the possession of El Progreso Memorial Library.) After graduation, she moved to Midland and worked for an oil company, occasionally babysitting for the family of two future U.S. presidents.
She returned to UT to pursue a master’s in history and was close to achieving it when she was blessed with the birth of her son, Leon, followed by that of her daughter, Jane. While raising her children, she continued her career as a teacher, her last and possibly most rewarding assignment being at Anthon Elementary School.
Her earliest days on a ranch informed her retirement. Her days were filled tending animals, willing something from the soil, and keeping up with the latest fashions.
Any particular day you could find her bottle-feeding an abandoned kid or a sick piglet in her kitchen or reading W magazine surrounded by her one true dog, Maggie, and the neighbor’s cat, while Gabby the Goose, who was especially fond of Willard Scott, watched the Today Show.
She participated in plays at the Opera House, ran the family’s ranching and farming business, traveled all over Mexico, and experimented with Julia Child in the kitchen. She grew outrageous stands of zinnias and had a special talent with zucchini – if from the early ’80’s to the late ’90’s you found mysterious deposits of zucchini on your doorstep, it was probably her.
In her later life, she endured the usual array of health issues relative to her age, bouncing back each time, seemingly unwilling to miss out on something. On this past early May day, it appears she decided she had seen enough in her 91 years.
She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her son, Dr. Leon Sebring Dure IV, and his wife, Ramona Albin, of Birmingham, Alabama; her daughter, Jane Rankin Dure, of San Antonio; her grandchildren, Leon Sebring Dure V and Olivia Albin Dure; her step-daughter Betty “Donya” Capt; numerous cousins, including her first cousins Vicki Jean Hagen, George Kennedy Speir, and Michael Wayne Harris; and her special family, Florencia Ortiz, Maria Ortiz, and Virginia Ortiz, who made spending her final years at her home possible – though she fired them almost daily, she loved them dearly.
A funeral service will be held at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Uvalde at 10:30 a.m. on May 28, 2021, with a reception to follow at the Uvalde Country Club.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift to El Progreso Memorial Library or the Uvalde Humane Society.
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