She stood for Buda

Long-time Buda resident Eloise Gay Dahlstrom passed from our midst this week.

It was expected, in a way, but the chasm left still stuns. Is the passing of a matriarch ever easy?

And Gay Dahlstrom certainly was one of Buda’s matriarchs. Newcomers to town may not understand the Dahlstrom name, other than knowing there is a school bearing that name.

But the Ruby-Dahlstrom name brings back lots of memories, and some of the best are about Gay.

“Blunt, tough, real and elegant; the sophisticate who could tend goats and knew what it was like to have work dirt under the fingernails, from a time when owning “a place” meant more than — or, maybe, just different than — buying a ranchette or a weekend getaway full of high-def televisions.” That was the way my husband Jeff Barton, whose father started first grade with Mrs. Dahlstrom, then Gay Ruby, said. 

My husband was county commissioner and worked closely with the family when the Dahlstroms made such an impact on the environment of Buda and put their 2,275 acres into a conservancy.

Jack Dahlstrom Jr. and his mother Gay worked tirelessly to set aside the land — for water quality purposes and to make sure that open space, even if not fully open to the public, remains more than just an old-time memory in Buda.

But Mrs. Dahlstrom was more than just this conservation legend. 

She grew up in Buda and was part of the Ruby family. Yes, of Ruby Ranch.

She met her husband, Jack Dahlstrom Sr., while in grade school. Mr. Dahlstrom always said that Gay set her eyes on him in elementary school and never let go.

They were married at the Buda Christian Church April 18, 1948, while the Methodist Church was being rebuilt.

They lived in Dallas where the Dahlstrom Corporation was located. Why Dallas?

Anyone local who has flown through the DFW International Airport should know the Dahlstrom Corporation. The DFW Turnpike was constructed by the Dahlstrom Corporation. 

But they came back to their roots when they moved the Dahlstrom Corporation to Buda in April 1980.

Since that time, Gay has worked with her children and grandchildren to beautify Buda renovating the old family gin — Buda Mill and Grain — on the south of downtown, and moving small businesses into the space. It is just one more thing that those who don’t know Gay Dahlstrom can thank her for.

She will be missed, even by those who never knew her.

Because she was a part of old Buda and she thought enough about her hometown to put energy into its preservation.

A private graveside service for family only will be held Saturday at Live Oak Cemetery, followed by a private memorial service at Dahlstrom Ranch.

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