Downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, in the mid 1940’s was a bustling metropolis for a boy of 7 just away from the farm and ranch community where he was born. My father, a cook and cowboy by trade, had just started as one of the first cooks for the Casa Manana restaurant in 1947. He moved us to an apartment on Ohio Street, right across from the Gem Theater, between 7th and 8th Streets. It’s here that we would stay for the next three years. The Gem Theater became a magic palace for a young mind. But it had to share that distinction with the rest of the magic that was Wichita Falls. I attended San Jacinto and Carrigan elementary schools, as well as Reagan Junior High, and belonged to the Boys Club on 6th Street. Please join, and share your stories and pictures through a Guest Blog, of early Wichita Falls - or your home town. Contact me at or leave a comment. We could use old pictures of movie houses, drive-in theaters, and other nostalgic pictures related to our youths.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dorothy McIlheran

I have the obituary, but not the date of Dorothy's death, sorry (from Julie Coley: She died Oct 5, 1987. There are no photos of the Gem Theater with the family). Maybe someone in Wichita Falls can do some detective work and obtain more information. Her daughter, if still living, might supply some needed photographs.

Obituary of Dorothy McIlheran, 90 of 4514 Alamo Drive died Monday in a Wichita Falls hospital.

Services will be at 2 PM Wednesday at Episcopal Church of Good Shepherd with the Rev. James A Rogers officiating. Graveside services will be at 1 PM Thursday in Hillcrest Mausoleum in Dallas. Entombment is under the direction of Owens & Brumley Funeral Home.

McIlheran was born on September 29th 1897, in Jackson. Michigan. She owned and operated the Gem Theater from 1926 – 1956. She was a member of Episcopal Church of Good Shepherd, a member of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas and a member of St. Barbara’s Guild.

Survivors include a son, Aaron McIlheran of Milwaukee, Wisc, a daughter, Dorothy Eason of Wichita Falls; a sister, Frances Bretherton of Dallas; eleven grandchildren; and one great grandchild.

The family suggest memorial be made to the Episcopal of Good Shepherd Church.


  1. William McIlheran was my great grandfather. He was the first McIlheran to own the Gem Theater. I can provide a later history of McIlheran ownership after that if you like. I also have a wonderful photo of Ohio Street looking north from 8th that I can share. Just need instruction how I should do it.

    Bill Nash

  2. Hi Bill, good to hear from you. Yes, I would love to hear more your great grandfather, the history of the Gem Theater, and the picture you refer to. Contact me at Write something up, tell me all about it. I'm anxious to learn more. The picture should be in jpeg, maybe 200 or 300 dpi. I hope there's a shot of the Gem in the picture. Where do you live now?