She was the little engine who could, and she did. Victoria “Vicki” Christina Robles Lay was born in Morrill Village, Neb. on July 28, 1926 and was raised in Pueblo, Colo. Her father, Timoteo R. Robles, worked the rails while her beautiful mother, Gregoria, “Goya” Delgado Robles was a stay-at-home mom to their eight children.
Conjunction, junction what was her function? World War II had ended, and with her dad’s encouragement, Vicki finished with high school and enrolled in secretarial school at a community college. Vicki was recruited to telegrapher school, and post completion, she was hired by St. Louis-Brownsville-Mexico Railroad. One derailment, she had to move to Texas, away from family and friends. There was no stopping this train, this strong female was riding the rails.
It was at the Refugio depot where Vicki would meet a strong stubborn Texan. He was shipping products for Humble Oil, and this beautiful, witty, exotic lady caught his eye and his heart. It was the oil fields of South Texas and the building of the railroads which introduced these two toots. Vernon I. Lay and Victoria C. Robles were married May 25, 1961 in South Texas.
Ricardo, Texas, Kleberg County, Highway 77, Route 1, Box 381 is where Vicki and Vernon would raise their four daughters, Jorja, Panna, Tot and Rayni. These four “Lay girls” kept Vicki busy with 4-H, FFA, Ricardo School PTA, Girl Scouts, Bluebirds, school board, and poll watching. Vicki’s theme song was Can’t you hear the whistle blowing. Rise up so early in the morn. Can’t you hear the captain shouting (Victoria), blow your horn.
Vernon and Vicki grew up during the Great Depression; both overcoming severe hardships and losses. They were hard working people, who saved and saved and sacrificed much for their children. Their dreams were higher education for their children, country life, working hard and being happy through experiences, love and understanding. Mom didn’t focus on herself: She wore her ole jeans, blouse and straw hat, kept the same hairstyle of a bun, and had gardening fingernails, not salon perfect ones. Instead, Vicki focused on others instead of herself: She gave much of herself to her family and friends, and didn’t ask for much other than her birds, her garden, and peace and quiet of country life.
Vicki found much joy in living on the Lay Homestead Ranchita in Ricardo, raising chickens, ducks, quail, doves and many other types of fowl. She was known as the peacock lady, having over 20 at one time that would sound their call in the middle of the late night, if a daughter was trying to sneak into the Lay house after curfew. Her garden was huge, and her homegrown pickled okra and beets were family favorites.
Vicki worked for the Missouri-Pacific Railroad (later becoming Union Pacific Railroad) for 42 years. Vicki, aka “Grammi,” spent her retirement years caring, loving and spoiling her great loves, her grandchildren, Thomas Ethan Kimball and Katherine Victoria Kimball; and Elbert “Bertie” Rayburn Lokeni Scott and Mosair Isaiah Faitoaga Lokeni.
A stroke in 2002, and the 2003 death of Vernon slowed down Vicki. She spent the following 17 years living with her daughters and sharing her love, energy and feisty nature (plus plenty of “how to live right” advice). She wasn’t the caboose to be left for last.
It is at this time that Vicki rides the peace train, the train bound for glory. She is homeward bound. She could ‘hear my train-a-comin,’ and she was ready. The lonesome train whistle that blew on the South Texas brush county has called her home.
Vicki was preceded in death by her husband of 42 years, Vernon I. Lay; her parents; her sister, Eppie; and her brothers, Arthur, Pasqual “Baldy,” Gregory, Manuel “Chuck,” and Frank.
“Grammi” is survived by her four daughters and their families, Jorja and Kenny Kimball (Ethan and Katherine), Panna and Rey Perez, Tot and Ward Albro, Rayni and Martin Scott (Bertie and Mosair); and the children gifted into her life when she married Vernon Lay, Patricia Lay Royder (husband Jack [deceased]; Brittney [deceased], Clay, Brad, and Randi), Skipper and Ellis Lay (Alison, Susannah [deceased], Travis, Waymon, Skip, Phillip and Scott) and Phillip and Patricia Lay. Vicki is also survived by her sister, Antoinette (“Toni”) Robles Fulton; and many family members, and so many wonderful friends.
Due to COVID-19, there will be a family only graveside service, during which Vicki will be buried next to Vernon, in the San Marcos City Cemetery. When the COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted, a memorial service will be held in Kingsville.