Exa Fay Hooten was born at home in Floydada, Texas to Maude Latham Hooten and Richard W. Hooten on August 27, 1928. She was the oldest of Tom and Lula (Brady) Latham’s many grandchildren and she felt a strong need to set an example for her cousins. She was a lifetime member of the Church of Christ and lived at Christian Village in Abilene throughout its tenure as a retirement facility.
Exa Fay’s parents valued education. Being teachers themselves, their livelihoods required frequent moves. In 1940 Exa Fay enrolled in Woodson school. During the times that her mother completed graduate coursework at Texas Tech, Exa Fay lived with Maude’s parents on their Masters Community farm while her brother, Alton Ray, stayed with some of Maude’s siblings.
Exa Fay finished high school in Stephenville, Texas. She earned her A.A. Degree from the Department of Home Economics at Tarleton Jr College and then transferred to Texas Tech in Lubbock for her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Foods and Nutrition. She was the first Tech Food Major to be awarded a fellowship from the University of Iowa College of Medicine to study for a Master’s Degree and complete the dietetic internship. She was the youngest member of her class. She completed coursework for her Doctor of Philosophy in the College of Nutrition, Textiles and Human Development at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. She had an honors grade point average in her Food Sciences major. Texas Woman’s University is archiving her papers.
When asked to spell her name, she would say, “Take the middle out of TEXAS.”
After receiving her Master’s Degree, Exa Fay secured a faculty position at Scott and White Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Temple, Texas. She was a Fellow of the American Dietetic Association.
Exa Fay joined the US Air Force and among her postings were USAFE Hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany and USAF Wheelus AFB, Tripoli, Libya. Stateside she was at Westover AFB, Massachusetts; Sheppard AFB, Texas; and Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Upon retirement as a Captain from Active Duty, she went into the US Air Force Reserves and was the first USAF Reserve Dietician to obtain the rank of Full Colonel. She was in the military long before women were more fully accepted, and mused that “Men would cross the street in order to avoid saluting a woman.”
The job Exa Fay felt was the most interesting was traveling as a consultant dietitian to sixteen hospitals, from Labrador to Puerto Rico to Wyoming, as part of Headquarters, Eighth Air Force, Medical Food Services. Her most colorful position was having her own television show, “Texas Cooking” on KCEN-TV, Waco. She was a lifelong devotee of public television, which she referred to as “the educational channel.”
Exa Fay believed travel was second in importance only to a college education and she traveled to many countries over several continents. Though she wanted to marry, she never did. When asked if she had received marriage proposals, she would reply, “I have been propositioned many times and proposed to a few.”
Exa Fay survived two types of cancer. It was her dream to live to 100, but she died of cardiac arrest, suspected Covid-19, at the age of 92.
Her brother, Alton Ray Hooten, pre-deceased her. Exa Fay is survived by her aunt Nelda Latham Dukes; her sister-in-law Margaret F. Hooten; nieces and nephews Michael Hooten (partner Karen Gronli); Mari Hooten Lee (spouse Randy Lee); Thomas Hooten (spouse Cindy Newman); Carrie Hooten (spouse David Giramma); Donna Fay C. Gill (spouse Sean Gill). Also surviving are great-nephew Sterling Hooten and great-niece Geneva Hooten, and many, many cousins.
Exa Fay will be buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, on March 3rd, 2021, at 1 p.m. Due to the pandemic, the family will not hold a memorial at this time but plans to at a later date. Arrangements are by Piersall Funeral Directors in Abilene. By Exa Fay’s wishes, there was no viewing or visitation. Remembrances may be made to Abilene Christian University or a charity of your choice.