CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Lindsey Seales, left, and cousin Bethany Utzman look over auction items Saturday at the Texico Senior Center during the 59th annual Luce family reunion.
A birthday celebration for a widow became a 59 year — and counting — tradition for the Luce family.
For the 59th year, the Luce family gathered for their family reunion on the last weekend of July, which coincides with Border Town Days, which is held on the last Saturday in July.
Border Town Days is a celebration of Farwell and Texico, towns that border each other and hug the New Mexico-Texas state line. The event includes a parade from Texico to Farwell City Park, food, vendors and games.
Just as the Luces, many area families use the occasion of Border Town Days to gather generations for reunions and other celebrations.
The Luce family celebration began after Pearl Luce’s husband George Nathaniel Luce died in a car accident in 1950. Her six children hosted a birthday party for her on July 29, 1951 and continue to gather in the name of family.
This year, the weekend-long reunion is being held at the Texico Senior Center. Vernon Luce of Clovis said about 130 relatives attended last year and they expect the same number this year.
The three-day reunion includes food, games, food and stuffed animal drives and an auction that pays for the reunion.
“We have a pretty devoted family,” Luce said.
He said members of the family travel from across the country, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Washington.
The reunion has been held in various places over the years including Portales and Ute Lake and has a new theme each year. This year, the Luce’s celebrated Christmas in July.
Those attending the reunion bring toys or canned goods. The toys are given to the Texico Fire Department for distribution to children and the canned goods are donated to local food banks.
Pearl Luce’s only remaining son, Leon Luce, and his wife of 71 years, Oneta Luce, said they enjoy seeing the addition of children each year and watching them grow.
Claude and Donna Walker traveled by motor home to Texico from their home in Sierra Vista, Ariz., at the beginning of the month to help prepare this year’s Luce gathering.
Donna Walker said since she and Claude were retired, they felt they could help get the family together.
“We’ve been doing this for so long,” Claude Walker said. “We have a close family. We’re blessed with that.”
Donna Walker said she enjoys supporting her husband and the family she married into.
“I feel like I’m part of the family, not an in-law,” she said with a laugh.