Mary’s Smile: South Texas cowgirl once featured in international exhibit

Ricardo Romo is interviewed about his photo exhibit in front of a photograph of Mary Urby.

Devine lost a beautiful smile this week, but this Texas Cowgirl left her mark on the world, being featured in a prestigious photo exhibit entitled “Small Town Texas” that would travel internationally over 7,000 miles—all the way to China. Photographer Richard Romo traveled the area taking thousands of photos for an exhibit that would celebrate and promote the beautiful South Texas. During his travels through Devine, he toured South Texas Marketplace off Hwy 132, and Romo snapped a candid photo of the late Mrs. Mary Urby sitting in the café area. The Urby’s had no idea then that Mary’s beautiful smile would become a huge part of the exhibit capturing the essence of South Texas.
“He took over 2,000 pictures across the greater SA area, and he only displayed 26 of them in the exhibit,” said Mary’s husband Joe Urby. “Mary’s was the biggest of all! What an honor it was when we went up to the exhibit at UTSA and saw her photo displayed across half of the wall! Most of the pictures were of old buildings and places. She was the only cowgirl in the exhibit!”
“Later we received news that the exhibit was to be displayed in China. All the way in China! Wow, we thought…what an honor! There’s no telling where all they’ll take that exhibit,” Mr. Urby adds.
That exhibit in China was the 2011 International Photo Festival, one of China’s largest and most prestigious photography shows. Romo’s “Small Town Texas” exhibit was invited to participate as part of a larger exhibit involving four other photographers entitled Infinite Horizon: Visions of Texas” displayed in China.
Mary and her husband Joe Urby purchased the South Texas Marketplace in Devine in 2006, and they have thoroughly enjoyed it. Mary was always a friendly face, often found sitting in the café area there at the flea market on the weekends as shoppers checked out all the neat things. She was famous for her friendly smile and also for her “good luck hugs.” The Urbys have also farmed hay in the Lytle/LaCoste area for some 30 years.
“Mary loved South Texas, and she loved greeting everybody with her big Texas smile,” said Mr. Urby, and this South Texas Cowgirl’s smile has certainly touched thousands across the continents now – all the way from San Antonio to China.
Married for 58 years, Mary and Joe were high school sweethearts.
“She was a freshman. I was a sophomore. She was a cheerleader. I was a football player,” Mr. Urby said with a chuckle. “When I was in junior high I remember I used to pray to God every night to find a pretty girl like Mary….She was so nice, appreciative, and very elegant. She loved everybody here, and everybody loved her because she respected people. I am really blessed to have found Mary, and I am so proud of her and this special honor. She was a real South Texas Cowgirl, and she represented South Texas so well in that exhibit.”
By Kayleen Holder