Melba Love Hamby Watson

August 1, 1940 – January 28, 2023 

Melba Love Hamby Watson was called home by her Lord and Savior on Saturday, January 28, 2023, surrounded by family. Services were held on Friday, February 3, 2023. Viewing and visitation for family and friends were held 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (CST) at Girdner Funeral Home, 141 Elm Street, Abilene, Texas. Graveside Service, officiated by Pastor Toby Henson, followed at 2 p.m. (CST) at Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Abilene. 7457 W Lake Road, Abilene, Texas (please arrive at 1:45).

Melba Ray Love was born on August 1, 1940, in Spur, Texas, to Herbert and Donnie Garrison Love. As a youngster, a sweet kid by the name of Curtis Watson ‘claimed’ Melba as his girlfriend and, together, they became each other’s first sweetheart, first kiss, first love. But as luck would have it, the Love family departed Spur and moved to Lovington, New Mexico, in 1953 to open and operate Love Boot Shop.

Melba graduated from Lovington High School in 1958 and moved to Lubbock, Texas, where she met and married her first husband, Richard Hamby, while he was attending and later graduated from Texas Tech University. From this union, two children, Perri Kathleen and Clinton Ward were born.

The family made their home in Socorro, New Mexico. where Melba owned a furniture upholstery business and worked alongside her family in their farming and ranching business. Melba was a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday School and played the organ for church services. She was also a member of the Socorro Bowling League and volunteer for Socorro County Fair, Sacaton CowBelles, Maverick 4-H Club and Socorro Cowboy Polo Club. Being the daughter of boot makers that designed, built, and finished every pair of custom boots by hand, Melba was a talented seamstress creating, alongside Norma Sparks, all the dance costumes for Sue Cottom’s School of Dance.

In 1978, Melba returned to Lovington to help with the Love family business and became congressional secretary for U.S. Congressman Harold Runnels, in his New Mexico 2nd district office in Lea County, until his death in 1980. Additional career opportunities included executive director for Lovington Chamber of Commerce, business manager for Runnels Mud Company, foreclosure specialist for Moncor Bank,

Lea County tax assessor, the only assessor to hold the office for 12 consecutive years, special assessments agent for City of Albuquerque, secretary for Lea County Soil and Water Conservation, and Lea County probate judge until her final, of many retirements, in 2014.

Melba was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Lovington and a bell ringer in the bell choir. She was a volunteer for Lea County Junior Livestock Sale, Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, Lea County Museum and Lea County Federation of Republican Women.

Even though Melba and Curtis’ lives that started back in Spur, Texas, had taken different paths over 65+ years, God would lead those youngsters back together to be each other’s last sweetheart, last kiss, last love. On November 13, 2021, Melba and Curtis Watson were married and made their home in Clyde, Texas. They treasured their time together and enjoyed traveling around New Mexico and Texas.

Melba is survived by her adoring husband, Curtis Watson; daughter, Perri (Randy) Jennings and son, Clint (Tonya) Hamby; daughter by marriage, Crystal (Brad) Greer and son by marriage, Caleb Watson. Also surviving her are grandchildren, Angela (Michael) Miller, Melody Vice, Jordan (Carrilee) Jennings, Taylor Hamby and Caitlyne (Clayton) Kibbe; great-grandchildren, Ashton and Rylan Miller, Conner and Mercedes Vice, Kasia, Katelin and Jasiah Jennings, Haisley and Leddy Hamby, along with many Love cousins, nieces and nephews and a host of many friends whom she cherished.

Melba is preceded in death by her parents, her siblings, Neil Love, Janet Byrd, Gail Painter, Jerry “Butch” Love and nephew, Mark Love.

Melba never met a stranger, because she believed that everyone she crossed paths with she should become acquainted with as they might know something she needed to know and vice-a-versa. She was a voracious reader of the Bible and enjoyed mystery and romance novels. Her one-of-a-kind wit and storytelling impacted everyone who knew and loved her.

Services entrusted to Girdner Funeral Home, Abilene, Texas.

The family requests memorials be made to the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, 1 Thunderbird Circle, Hobbs, New Mexico 88240 in lieu of flowers.