School 31

Selma LaVerne Herrington

May 29, 1931 ~ August 27, 2023 (age 92) 92 Years Old


Selma LaVerne Cloudt Herrington, age 92, died August 27, 2023 after a brief illness. 

A Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday, August 31 at Fort Bayard National Cemetery. 

LaVerne was born May 29, 1931 in Lordsburg, New Mexico to Alta Tannehill Cloudt and James David Cloudt. Along with her younger sister, Shirley Margaret Cloudt and younger brother, Joseph David Cloudt, she spent the first 7 years of her life on a remote ranch on Blue Creek, in western New Mexico close to the Arizona border, where her father raised goats for mohair.  In 1938 her parents sold the ranch on Blue Creek and moved to Arenas Valley, New Mexico. 

She graduated high school at the age of 16 and entered Western New Mexico University where she obtained at Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. While at Western she met Ellis B. Herrington and they married in 1951.

Then followed several years of living in various cities when Ellis was in the Air Force, then attended the Colorado Schools of Mines, and then was employed as a mining engineer in Mexico.  She would often teach elementary school wherever they were located and when they returned to the Silver City area, she taught elementary school in Santa Rita.

She had a life-long love of children, doing whatever she could to help and encourage them.  In 1958 when she was living in a remote mining camp in Mexico, she visited Silver City and got vials of polio vaccine from Dr. Randolph Watts. She carried them back to Mexico in a thermos packed with ice allowing the doctors there to be able to vaccinate all of the children in the camp.

After she and Ellis returned to Silver City in 1959, she returned to WNMU and got a Master of Arts degree in English in 1967. Then in 1972 at the age of 41, she began graduate study of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin and obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in 1979.  The subject of her dissertation was settlement patterns and water control structures built by the Mimbres people close to where she had been raised in Arenas Valley on land which she had explored as a child both on foot and horseback. Her intimate knowledge of the land and the ranching practices and the history of the area helped her recognize the prehistoric water-control structures that others may have overlooked as being of modern origin. 

After receiving her Ph.D., LaVerne served as the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer at the Texas Historical Commission in the 1980s. In that capacity, she worked tirelessly, and often in the face of powerful opposition, to protect the cultural resources in Texas. Her advocacy was immensely important and her legacy in that regard will long be appreciated.

LaVerne purchased the Treasure Hill archaeological site in the 1960s and protected it over the years, establishing the Treasure Hill Foundation which managed the property until 2020 when the foundation transferred the property to the Archaeological Conservancy. LaVerne donated her personal collection of artifacts and supporting documentation to the Maxwell Museum at the University of New Mexico. She was also supportive of Western New Mexico University Museum and helped arrange for other local collections to be donated there.

She was instrumental in arranging the two most significant archaeological research projects in the Mimbres area in the 1970s, the first being the Mimbres Foundation’s long-term research effort where LaVerne arranged access to property and participated in excavations and other aspects of the project. She also facilitated the immensely successful and significant NAN Ranch archaeological project by Texas A&M University whose collections were deposited in Western New Mexico University Museum where they are a critical part of the exhibits and research collections.

LaVerne was always willing and eager to help historians and archaeologists interested in southwestern New Mexico. On countless occasions, she hosted visiting scholars and frequently connected them with local people knowledgeable about a particular topic. The list of scholars consulting with LaVerne is a veritable who’s who of Southwestern archaeologists. With her own research and the NAN Ranch and Mimbres Foundation projects, LaVerne’s contribution to Mimbres archaeology was far more substantial and significant than most have realized.

She lived a long, satisfying life and she often expressed how fortunate she was to grow up in such a beautiful area with people who were so kind and helpful, to have been able to get a good education, and to have had jobs that were interesting and meaningful to her, and to have such wonderful friends and family, many of whom reached out to her to offer help and support in her final days.

LaVerne is survived by her daughter, Karen Herrington, and her son-in-law, Danny Sheaffer, both of Georgetown, Texas, her sister Shirley Cloudt Barrall of Fairfield, CA and numerous nieces and nephews. LaVerne was preceded in death by her husband, Ellis B. Herrington, her son, Thomas Allan Herrington, and her brother, Joseph David Cloudt.

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Funeral Service
August 31, 2023

11:00 AM
Fort Bayard National Cemetery, New Mexico, Silver City
200 Camino De Paz
Fort Bayard, NM 88036

Video is available for this event


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