Arra Burton Fite to Bernice Mabel Fite
Arra Burton Fite
(William, Thomas, David, Leonard, Johannes)
Son of William Monroe Fite
Lucy Jane Elgar
, was born Nov. 28, 1886, near Cloudcroft, N.
Mex., in what is now Otero County. His parents soon moved to Hope, N.
Mex., where Burton lived on the farm until about a year after his
mother's death, when he was seven years old. He then lived in the
Sacramento Mountains with friends of the family for about six years,
when he "went on his own", spending some of the winters in La Luz where
he lived with his brother Flennoy, and went to school. Most of the time
he worked as cowboy until the fall of 1907 when he left the ranch and
entered school at the New Mexico A & M College. He graduated with a B.
S. degree, majoring in Agriculture in 1915 and took his Masters degree
In spite of the fact that he worked his entire way through
college, Burton was most active in student activities. Among other
things he was Vice-President of the Agricultural Club, a member of the
Student Commission for four years, President of the Columbian Literary
Society, President of the Y. M. C. A., member of the Debating Team,
Business Manager of the Athletic Association, President of the Alpha Pi
Alpha Fraternity, President of the Senior Class and Class Orator.
Burton was married Dec. 27, 1917, in Lawton, Okla., to Mabel H.
Harper. After graduating from college Burton followed a professional
career until his retirement in 1947. His professional career was quite
well summarized by the Editor of "The New Mexico Stockman", a state
Livestock magazine, from which we quote:
"A. B. Fite", since 1940 was Director of the Extension Service at New
Mexico A. & M College, retired from active educational work after forty
years of connection with New Mexico A. & M. as student, teacher and
executive, during which he has performed outstanding service to
agricultural education and to the cause of practical advancement of
junior and senior agriculture throughout New Mexico.
Under his direction the New Mexico Extension Service has been brought
to its highest state of efficiency since its establishment.
Fite is a native son of New Mexico. He was born in Cloudcroft, N.
Mex., in Otero County, in 1886; was reared on a farm and ranch and left
a cattle ranch in the upper Jornada in the fall of 1907 to enter the
then struggling New Mexico A.& M. College to secure his education. He
has been with the college in some capacity ever since. At his entrance,
the college maintained a preparatory or High School division so that
both Fite's preparatory and college work were done there. Finding it
necessary to work his way through college, he was given a job in 1912 as
student assistant in horticulture, work he continued until his
graduation in 1915. After graduation Mr. Fite continued his work in
horticulture for 20 years, doing teaching and research work in fruits
and vegetables. During those years he was author of 20 experiment
station bulletins on various phases of horticulture and insect control.
Among his contributions was the major part he had in the development of
both the yellow and white Grano onion, which has become famous
throughout the west and in demand in all national market stands which has
been worth many millions of dollars to growers in the southwestern area.
Fite left the experiment station in 1935 to become extension
horticulturist which gave him an opportunity to carry to the farmers of
the state the results of his extensive research work, an opportunity of
which he made good use. He gave up his work in horticulture in 1937 to
become County Agent Leader and in 1940 became Director of Extension. In
the Director's position, Mr. Fite has extended close and efficient
cooperation to all branches of the state's livestock industry and
building a stronger livestock program in the extension service. He has
seldom missed a convention of either the cattle or wool growers
association and has worked closely with livestock leadership throughout
Mr. Fite has taken particular interest in expanding the 4-h club
program in New Mexico and has been a major force in bringing about the
large and active membership now existing. Mr. Fite has been in declining
health for several years past, which led to his retirement from active
During World War II , in addition to his regular work as Director of
the State Agricultural Extension Service, with its extra assignments,
Burton served as Vice Chairman of the State War Board, Chairman of the
State Agricultural Planning Board, Member of the State Conservation
Committee, Vice Chairman of the State Rural Rehabilitation Committee,
Associate member of the Dona Ana County Draft Board, and at the end of
the war he received a nice Certificate of Service Award signed by the
Adjutant General, the Governor of New Mexico and Harry Truman, President
of the United States.
On retirement from the position of Director of the Extension Service,
Burton received several presents and awards among which was a fine Gruen
watch, presented by a farm organization; a bronze plaque citation, for
outstanding service to 4-H Clubs, presented by the State 4-H Leaders; a
large easy chair from the state office force; and a very attractive
Distinguished Service Award Certificate, presented by the New Mexico
Farm and Livestock Bureau, which read as follows:
"This is to certify that A. B. Fite is hereby awarded this certificate
in recognition of outstanding service beyond ordinary duties and normal
responsibilities to New Mexico Agriculture. This service having been
performed as a result of an unselfish desire to advance the wellbeing of
, signed by the secretary and president of the
Burton and Mabel retired to their 30 acre irrigated farm, three miles
from the College which is devoted to the growing of fruit and cotton.
Mabel Harper Fite
Wife of Arra Burton Fite
, was born Nov. 21,
1895, at Darlington, Okla.. She is the daughter of Rev. Richard H. Harper,
D.D., and his wife Ella May Boggs. Mabel comes from a family of ministers.
Her parents spent their lives as Indian Missionaries in New Mexico and
Okla.. Her Grandfather Harper and his three sons were all ministers. They
came from Plymouth, England in 1882. Her Grandfather Harper was a pioneer
missionary in Kansas and Colorado, and built the first Congregational Church
in Wichita, Kansas. He died in Cortez, Colorado in 1892, and is buried
there. Her Grandfather Boggs was also a pioneer missionary in Kansas and
built the first church in Wichita of which he was pastor. He hauled lumber
by ox team, from Topeka, to build the first frame house in Wichita, Kansas.
At the Centennial celebration of the First Presbyterian Church of Wichita, a
few years ago, a monument was erected to his memory. Her Great grandfather
Boggs was pastor of one Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania for fifty years.
Her Great-Great Grandfather Boggs was also a minister. Mabel attended New
Mexico A. & M. College and taught school in New Mexico and Oklahoma until
she and Burton were married.Arra Burton Fite
and Mabel Harper
had the following children:
The present address of Burton and Mabel
- Wilbur Lewis
- Albert William
- Edward Burton, born April 29,1921, died November 26,1926
- Burta Raye
- Bernice Mabel
Route 2, Box 216
Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Wilber Lewis Fite
(Burton, William, Thomas, David, Leonard,
Oldest son of Burton Fite
and Mabel Harper
, was born Feb. 3, 1919 in El
Paso, Texas, while his parents were living at State College, N. Mex. Wilber
graduated from Las Cruces Union High School; and from New Mexico A. & M.
College with an A. B. degree in Business Administration in 1940. He also
received his Commission as 2nd Lt. in the Reserve Officers Training Corps.
Wilber paid much of his expenses in College by working all vacant periods in
the Lookadoo filling station at Mesilla Park. He opened the station at 6 a.
m. and closed it at 8 p. m. He was a member of the Phi Beta Theta
Fraternity. Wilbur worked for the L. E. Fite Realty and Insurance Co. of San
Antonio until Apr. 12, 1942, when he reported for active duty in the Army at
Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned to the 382nd Infantry Regiment, 96th
Infantry Division at Camp Adair, Oregon, under Col. Macey Dill. He was
promoted to 1st Lt. Sept. 22, 1942 and to Capt. April. 3, 1943; received
special training in amphibious operations in command of Co. K , ; 382nd
Infantry, landed on Leyte on Oct. 20, 1944 in the first wave of amphibious
landing, and his company was credited with placing the first American flag
on Philippine soil in the Philippine Liberation Campaign. Wilber was
wounded Oct. 27, 1944, in the Leyte Campaign and was awarded the Purple
Heart Medal and received the Bronze Star "For Heroic Service in the Leyte
Campaign"'. He was hospitalized in New Guinea for sometime but returned to
the command of his company in time for the initial landing on Okinawa,
Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945. He received a serious head wound Apr. 14, 1945
and was taken to Guam for hospitalization, then to Hawaii and later to the
States. For his part in the Okinawa Campaign he received the Purple Heart
and Oak Leaf Cluster and Silver Star for gallantry in action. He was
promoted to the rank of Major, May 24, 1945, and received his discharge Dec.
12, 1945. After resting for a few months Wilber resumed his work with his
uncle, L. E. Fite of San Antonio and is at present engaged in the Real
Estate and Insurance business in San Antonio, Texas. He was married Dec. 25,
1940 to Alma Grace Beauchamp, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Alma was born Sept.
26, 1921 in Lovington, N. Mex. She is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wm.
Beauchamp. Alma was a Home Economics major in her Junior year at New Mexico
A. & M. College when she and Wilber were married. Wilber and Alma have three
The present address of Wilber and Alma is:
- Richard Lewis, born in El Paso, Texas, Oct. 27, 1944 (the same day
his father, Wilber, was wounded on Leyte)
- Edward Beauchamp, born in San Antonio, Texas, July 10, 1947
- Marjorie Anne, born Nov. 11) 1948, in San Antonio, Texas.
2606 W. Gramercy Pl.
San Antonio, Texas.
(Burton, William, Thomas, David, Leonard, Johannes)
and Mabel Harper
born at State College, April 1, 1920. He graduated from New Mexico A & M
College in Electrical Engineering in 1942, and worked, during World War
II for the Philco Co. of Philadelphia, in war research work; assisted in
the development of some of the first radar units used by the Allied
Forces in World War II. He worked for the New Mexico School of Mines in
research from 1945-1947, and has been employed at the Sandia Base, in
Albuquerque, N. Mex. in research and administration for the War Dept.
since 1947. With the exception of his board and room, Albert paid
practically all of his expenses in both high school and college by
delivering the morning and evening newspapers to both the College and
Mesilla Park communities. He got up at 5 a. m. and rode his bicycle
about 25 miles a day. From the time he entered high school Albert spent
his spare time working with radios and in his junior year of college he
built an exceptionally good public address system with the strongest
amplifier at the College. This P.A. system proved very profitable,
especially with the College orchestra in playing for dances, etc. Albert
was married Aug. 15, 1946 in Albuquerque, N. M., to Jean Warburton
Stokes. Jean was born in Escondido, Calif., May 12, 1925. She is the
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Morris Stokes of Albuquerque, where Mr.
Stokes is employed as engineer for the Soil Conservation Service. Jean
graduated from the University of N. Mex., in 1948. Albert and Jean have
The present address of Jean and Albert
- Charles Burton, born Jan. 12, 1949, in Albuquerque, N. Mex.
5810 Aspen Drive
Albuquerque , N.M.
Burta Raye Fite(Burton,
William, Thomas, David, Leonard, Johannes)
Daughter of Arra Burton
Fite and Mabel Harper, was born June 15, 1922, at State College, N. Mex..
Burta graduated from the Las Cruces Union High School and New Mexico A & M
College. She was a leader in student activities, and was Junior Prom Queen
in High School. In her senior year of college she was President of the
Inter-Church Student Council; Secretary of the International Relations Club;
Member of Home Economics Club, Pep club, church choir and pledge in the Zeta
Tau Alpha Sorority. While in her senior year she married Robert W. Gray, a
former student at New Mexico A & M College who took C.A.A. training; was
aircraft inspector and received his wings and commission as 2nd Lt. in the
Army Air Corps in July 1942. Robert Gray, son of Rev. and Mrs. W. F. Gray of
Las Cruces, N. Mex., was born Sept. 29, 1920 in Hot Springs, N. Mexico. He
and Burta were married July 5, 1942 in Las Cruces. Robert flew across the
Atlantic in his B-26 bomber, landing in Africa, where he took part in the
battle for North Africa. He was shot down over the Sicilian Straits and he
and his crew lost their lives Mar. 22, 1943. Robert was cited by his
commanding officer, Maj. Robert R. McCord, as follows: Lt. Gray displayed
utmost courage and determination, flying at mast level in the face of an
intense anti-aircraft fire; his plane was severely damaged by a succession
of direct hits. Resolutely maintaining formation, he continued on over the
convoy in a bomb run which destroyed a light cruiser and a merchantman, and
damaged several other vessels before his plane was shot down into the sea.
After Robert was lost, Maj. Robert Darling of Kirtland Field presented Burta
with the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal, in recognition of
After Robert went overseas Burta returned home and completed her College work,
receiving her degree in Home Economics. She taught in Albuquerque for a
year, then worked as Assistant County Home Agent for a year. While working
as Home Agent she met Edwin M. Kilian, a Navy student in the University of
New Mexico." Ed" received his Ensign commission Feb.,1 945 and he and Burta,
were married March 26, 1945, in Oakland, Calif., just before Ed sailed for
the Pacific Islands. Edwin McVay Kilian, husband of Burta Fite was born Dec.
1, 1924 in Greensboro, N. C.. He is the son of Ed and May Kilian of
Albuquerque, N. Mex.. Edwin graduated from the University of N. Mex. soon
after returning from overseas. He served in the Navy from Sept. 1942 to
March 1946; assigned to the U.S.S. Mt. Olympus and in the Pacific Campaign,
served under Capt. Dillon and Vice Admiral Wilkinson, Commander of the 3rd
Amphibious Forces. When Ed arrived in Hawaii he met, for the first time, his
brother-in-law, Maj. Wilber L. Fite who was hospitalized there for a while
on his return journey to the States. Ed is at present engaged in the Real
Estate and Insurance Business with his father in Albuquerque, N. Mex.. Burta
and Ed have two children:
The present address of Burta and Ed is:
- Gary McVay Kilian born May 1,1947 in Albuquerque
- Barbara Elaine, born Feb. 13, 1949, in Albuquerque.
1043 N. Vassar
Albuquerque, N. M.
Bernice Mabel Fite
(Burton, William, Thomas, David, Leonard, Johannes)
Arra Burton Fite and Mabel Harper was born Feb. 2,1925 at State College, N.
Mex. Bernice finished Las Cruces High School during the War and worked for a
time as secretary for the Army in Oregon and Washington. She returned for a
term of school at New Mexico A. & M. College, then worked for the Soil
Conservation Service for a summer, and enrolled in the University of New
Mexico at Albuquerque. She was Senior Prom Queen in High School; pledge
president of her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, at the University and a member of
the newspaper staff at N. M. U.. While in school at the University she met
Henry McDonald Willis Jr., a Navy student at the University, and roommate of
Ed Kilian. Bernice and "Hank" were married in Albuquerque Oct. 21, 1945.
Henry McDonald Willis, .Jr., was born in Fayetville, Tennessee, Apr. 19,
1925. He joined the Navy in July 1943 and after receiving his commission as
Ensign at the N. M. U.was assigned to the Ship U.S.S. PC 1243, under Admiral
Chester Nimitz, Commander of the Marianas, Pacific War theatre. Hank was
discharged July 19,1946, and graduated from New Mexico A.& M. College in
1947 in Business Administration. While attending the University, Hank was a
member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, President of the Student Senate and Business
Manager of the school paper. After his graduation from College Hank worked
as manager of a Sporting Goods Store in Las Cruces until 1949, when he was
employed at Sandia Base in Test Operations, Field Test Dept., Sandia
Corporation. Bernice and Hank have two children:
Their present address is :
- Diane Elizabeth, born May 6, 1947 in El Paso, Tex.
- John Burton, born June 4, 1948 also in El Paso, Tex.
237 N. Cardenas Drive
Albuquerque, New Mexico.