Mabel Wingate Lawrence of Orange, Texas died on April 24, 2009 at home surrounded by family after a lengthy illness with congestive heart failure. She was 86.

Visitation will be at 5 p.m., a eulogy at 7 p.m., and a Rosary recited at 8 p.m. at Claybar Funeral Home on Monday, April 27. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Orange. Officiating will be the Rev. Joseph Daleo, pastor of St. Mary Church. Burial will follow in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery. The family and funeral cortege will be walking behind Mabel’s coffin on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. from Claybar Funeral Home to St. Mary Catholic Church to honor Mabel.

Her last words were prayers to the Divine Mercy of Jesus and the Blessed Mother, a devotion she has held her entire life.

Mabel was born on March 2, 1923 in Orange to Claude and Lumea (Bonin) Wingate. A wonderful daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend, she was loved by everyone who knew her. Well-liked and fun-loving, she could lift one’s spirits without even trying because of her sincere smile. Her sterling character stood principal to her person, as did her kind and gentle humor and soft-spoken manner. She had a crystalline memory of a lifetime of experiences from which she told stories to the delight of family and friends.

Mabel was one of eight children and a lifelong resident of Orange for all but a few years. She was educated at St. Mary Catholic School in Orange, Texas, the Incarnate Word Academy in Houston, and she graduated from Orange High School where she tied for the spot of valedictorian. She was named Who’s Who in Texas for first place trophies in Shorthand, Typing and Latin at the state level. She was also awarded the Annual Voice of Democracy contest. She was bestowed the American Legion Award for the highest average of the year for all the schools in Houston, both catholic and public, while attending the Incarnate Word Academy. Later in life, at age 62, she attended Lamar University to study literature, winning first place in all of the categories of poetry, short-story, and art.

After high school, she married the love of her life, Dewey Dee “Buck” Lawrence, Jr. She gave up her college scholarship to be a wife and mom to fifteen children, a grandmother to fifty-two; and a great-grandmother to thirty. She had 97 direct descendants with four more expected arrivals; this will bring Mabel and her husband’s direct descendants to a total of 101. Mabel loved her family and was very proud that she and her husband together reared fifteen children in the Catholic Church and schools teaching them to excel. Mrs. Lawrence was a long-time member of St. Mary Catholic Church and a member of the Altar Society as well as the Legion of Mary. She devoted many volunteer hours creating art paintings for school plays. She spent months reconditioning a statue of Christ for a prayer garden at St. Mary Catholic Church.

Mabel was an accomplished artist and writer and recently finished three books, “Every Dog Needs a Boy”; “St. Luke”; and “My Dear Theopolis.” At the age of ten, Mabel won a National Young Writer’s Contest entitled “The Failed Assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt.” She also had several short stories and poems published in magazines.
Next to her love of God, she loved her family, working outdoors, writing, painting, and traveling. Her happiest times were spent cooking huge meals for her family and the family time together with them. No invitation was needed because her home and kitchen were always open to everyone. Every child in the neighborhood called her house “Home!” She would not sit until everyone was eating. She was famous within her family for her “scrambled egg sandwiches with buttery toast.” And, she was the best gravy maker in Texas.

She continued her devotion to God her entire life, never missing Sunday Mass until she became too ill. She treasured that Tibby Mazzola and Neat Paul, life-long church friends, assisted her with her devotion by bringing communion to her at home. She traveled to the Holy Land and made several trips to Europe, including a trip to Italy with many of her children and grandchildren where she had a private audience with Pope John Paul II. She treasured her meeting with Mother Theresa in Pennsylvania in 1976. Her gardening always included statues indicative of her religious devotion. During the latter part of her illness, she happily thanked God for her eyes and ears as she listened to the Mass and the Rosary on television every day, sometimes twice a day. She thanked God for her hands as she wrote inscriptions and drew pictures of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as painting religious pictures.

She is preceded in death by her husband (of forty-two years at the time he died in 1984); sons, Dr. Darrell Dennis Lawrence and Timothy Gerard Lawrence who died in 1974; granddaughter Rebecca Lawrence; grandson, Aaron Calvert; Mabel’s parents, Claude and Lumea (Bonin) Wingate; sisters Julia Wingate Bacom and Barbara Wingate Marshall; and, brothers Lance and Cecil Wingate; and Christian Brother Lucian Wingate.

Those left to cherish her memory are thirteen children; Dr. Michael and Susan Lawrence of Benbrook; Dr. Patrick and O’Breann Lawrence of Tumacacori, Ariz.; Maureen and Mike Shupp of Orange; Roger and Sherree Lawrence of Westcliffe, Colo. (Roger is currently in Iraq); Eileen Romano of Orange; Christal and Phil Finck of Des Moines, Iowa; Darlene and Will Jaques of West Des Moines, Iowa; Marian and Stanley Kinchen of Ponchatoula, La.; Theresa Fennessey of Houston; Kevin and Catherine Lawrence of Smithville; Maribeth and Mitts Ray of Round Rock; C.B. and Karen Lawrence of Round Rock; and Stephen Lawrence of Austin. She is also survived by fifty grandchildren: Stacy Cook of Orange; Jimmie Chris and Vanessa Cook of Kingwood; Dr. Michael C. and Carrie Lawrence of Grand Prairie; Darrell Dwain and Robyn Lawrence of Katy; Dr. Ginger Lawrence Shriver of Longmont, Colo.; Gary Rhodes of Nederland; Jeremy and Lisa Calvert of Burnet; Jodi and Keith Spiers of Saltillo, Miss.; Michelle and Darren Iceton of The Woodlands; Melanie Adair of Dallas; Dianna Lawrence of Vista, Calif.; Timothy Cook of Orange; Erika Watson of Des Moines, Iowa: Eva and James Olive of Goose Creek, S. C.; Nicholas and Blythe Ray of Round Rock; Kevin Michael and Kristen Lawrence of Texas City; Patrick Nicholas Lawrence, Jr. of Los Angeles, Calif.; Michael Romano of Orange; Chad Calvert of Arlington; Robin Kinchen of New Orleans, La.; Alexander and Jennifer Lawrence of Baltimore, Mar.; Jonathan Ray of Belton; Maria Brooks of Austin; Wendy and Tony Savarino of Ponchatoula, La.; Derrick and Tiffany Lawrence of LaPorte; Dustin Brooks of Houston; Benjamin and Moshell Ray of Round Rock; John Romano of Dallas; Corey Calvert of Arlington; Andrea Lawrence of Austin; Christopher Roberts of Houston; Jennifer Lawrence of Dallas; Stephanie McCurley of Norman, Okla.; Angela Lawrence of Orange; Travis Lawrence of Round Rock; Lumea Jaques of West Des Moines, Iowa; twins Michael and Morgan Shupp of Orange; Michael H. Lawrence of Benbrook; Darrell T. Lawrence of Orange; Ashley Lawrence of Round Rock; Patrick D. Lawrence of Round Rock; Remington Jaques of West Des Moines, Iowa; Elizabeth Lawrence of Orange; Zachary Ray of Round Rock; Jesse, Adam and Eva Lawrence of Tumacacori, Ariz.; Daniel and Joseph Lawrence of Orange.

She is survived by thirty great-grandchildren: Ashley, Dena, and Jessica Lawrence of Katy; Brendon Wells, and Kaleb and Jacob Spiers of Saltillo, Miss.; Justin and Hannah Cook of Kingwood; Alyssa, Destiny, and Lindsey Watson, and twins Jessica and Natalie Watson of Des Moinies, Iowa: Katherine Olive of Goose Creek, S. C.; Ashton and Kyan Lawrence of San Diego, Calif.; Caitlyn and Austin Calvert of Burnet; Brynn Shriver of Longmont, Colo.; Layla and Luke Lawrence of Texas City; Madison and Jake Lawrence of Grand Prairie; Keegan Iceton of The Woodlands; Alex Edge and Logan McCurley of Norman, Okla.; Bailey Ray of Round Rock; Madison Hebert of Orange; Lilly Leonard of Austin; and, Isaac Lawrence of Baltimore, Mary.

She is also survived by her brothers, Roy and Nick Wingate, and their wives Crystal and Joan Wingate, of Orange; half-sister Edith Pratt of Orange; brother-in-law James Marshall of Orange; sisters-in-law Florence Wingate of Beaumont and June Wingate of Orange; and three generations of numerous nieces and nephews. She will be missed by her dear cousin and friend, Dorothy Lou Nance.

She was the proud aunt of nieces Lumea, Melanie, Jennifer and Jade Marshall (her other daughters); and, her nieces Betty, Polly, Marie, Nancy, and Patsy Wingate; and Natalie, Susan, Vicky, Linda, Mary, Cecilia, Julie, Barbara, and Olivia Wingate; and, nephews, Nick Wingate Jr., Dr. Charles “Chuck” Wingate, Hugh, Gary and Bradley Bacom, and Andrew, Al, Matt, Quentin, Philip, Peter, Clayton, Ethan, and Spencer Wingate. She was the loving friend of Homer and Becky Stark since elementary school, who kept contact with her during her illness, and until their deaths; and, she cherished her lifelong friendship since childhood with Father Bernard Murray.

All members of the Lawrence family wish to express their gratitude to all the doctors and nurses at Memorial Herman Baptist Hospital-Orange for their wonderful care of Mabel over the years. A special thanks is given to Dr. William M. Rutledge, who Mabel considered part of her family, for his loving care and constant smile. A warm note of gratitude is given to Dr. Miguel Castellanos for his compassionate care. We also wish to thank Odyssey Hospice for their months of support and care.

Serving as pallbearers will be Michael Haltom Lawrence, Michael Christopher Lawrence, Jimmie Chris Cook II, Darrell Dwain Lawrence, Michael Angelo Romano, Jeremy Shane Calvert, Remington Jaques, Keith Spiers, Dustin Brooks, Kevin Michael Lawrence, Nicholas Ray, Travis Lawrence, and Darrell Timothy Lawrence. Honorary pallbearers will be her sons-in-law, Stanley Kinchen, Mitts Ray, Mike Shupp, Will Jaques, and Phil Finck; and friends the Rev. Bernard Murray, the Rev. Francis Conroy and Christian Brother Martin Fenerty.

All of the lives whom Mabel Lawrence touched have been greatly changed. The Lawrence family knows that we will forever miss our mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. We know that our “little tower of strength” and the “wind beneath our wings” will be gone, but she will live on in each of us……her legacies. She was our hero.