Eva Mae Holleyman (Wilken)
A celebration of the life of Eva Mae Holleyman, 95, will be at 11:00 AM, Sat., May 19, 2018 at the Corona Presbyterian Church, Corona, NM with Allan Brunson officiating, assisted by Rev. Ron Brunson. Burial will follow in the Corona Cemetery, Corona, NM with Tom Porter, Buzzy Zink, Jerry Sharp, Billy Sharp, Bunk Mullins and Allen Sultemeier serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be Willis Brunson, Bud Poage, Gary Armitage, Larry Sharp, Leslie Sharp, Don Wilken, Carl Wilken and John Wilken. Visitation will be in Portales on Wed., May 16, 2018 from 8 AM to 8 PM. Mrs. Holleyman will be available for visitation at the church on Saturday prior to the service from 9 AM until service time.
Eva Mae Holleyman, 95, passed away on May 10, 2018 in Portales, NM. She was born on August 23, 1922 in Valentine, TX, the daughter of Karl Willie Wilken and Kate Lois (Garlick) Wilken. After graduating from Ysleta High School, she earned a business degree and worked at the El Paso National Bank.
Lefty Wilken provided early horses for Eva Mae. ‘Ol Sleepy was the first horse she rode, riding him bareback until the Moon family loaned her a side saddle. She competed at the El Paso Herald Post Kids’ Rodeo in 1937, winning her first saddle. Because she had a very narrow foot, buying a pair of boots was not possible. Eva Mae asked Tony, a local boot maker, to make her a pair of boots. He made a pair from black leather and carved her initials out of the boot tops in white leather. It was her first pair of boots and carried her to many events. The Tony Lama name is familiar to all today as a boot maker.
Eva Mae started going to Midland and Pecos to barrel races in the early 1940s. Chief and Eva Mae were a winning combination. A man organizing the 1946 National Finals Rodeo watched Eva Mae ride in Midland. He invited her to be a Ranch Glamour Girl and promote the rodeo with five other young cowgirls. Riding a train to New York, she did publicity for the Madison Square Garden Rodeo and performed with Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers. She participated in 52 performances at the National Finals Rodeo. From New York, the Glamour Girls went to Boston and performed at Boston Gardens. They brought in large crowds to the rodeo.
On July 9, 1947 in Ysleta, Eva Mae married John D. Holleyman, a professional calf roper. Together they traveled the United States for John D. to rope calves and steers. Eva Mae continued to ride on the ranch and ran her final barrel race at Eagle Pass, TX in the 40-and-over women’s barrel race. She won a gold buckle at the age of 46. In the fall of 1956 John D. and Eva Mae, with partner Walton Poage, bought a ranch in Corona and ran both sheep and cattle until 1970 when they sold out the sheep and became primarily a cow and calf operation. John D. and Eva Mae raised three children: Lois Ann, Karen, and Lon Holleyman. She helped on the family ranch in Corona, NM and last rode a horse at the age of 87. Eva Mae was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2014. Eva Mae Wilken Holleyman’s induction into the Hall of Fame is a fitting final tribute for this rodeo family.
As a community servant, she served as an elder for the Corona Presbyterian Church, where she attended from 1956 until 2014. As a leader for the Corona Jewels 4-H Club, she helped many young girls learn the art of sewing and baking. She was also active in the Make It Yourself with Wool Contest; she and her daughters sewed and competed in many competitions. As a lifetime member of Beta Sigma Phi, she supported the March of Dimes and many local charities. She also served as secretary for the New Mexico Jr. Rodeo Association. She is remembered in the community for the “labor of love” she provided with her beautiful handmade quilts. Following an illness, Eva Mae resided at the Bee Hive in Portales from February of 2015 until May 10, 2018. She attended the First Presbyterian Church regularly and made many friends. She is survived by daughters Lois Ann (Darryl) Ratliff; Karen (Dwayne) Kibbe; Lon (Alvina) Holleyman; she has six grandchildren: Kasi (Brad) Holland; J.D. Kibbe, Jodi (Luke) Diaz, Karen Ratliff, Heather Ratliff, and Meriah Holleyman; six great-grandchildren Jordan and Derrick Holland; Baylor, Devin, Kamden Diaz and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, brother Lefty Wilken, and husband, John D. Holleyman, of 65 years.