Obituaries

In Remembrance of Class Family Members and Friends


Virgie Caughlin Branick, mother of Lizbeth Branick

August 19, 1928-September 11, 2020
Several years ago, Virgie’s five children submitted her name in Nederland’s “Mother of the Year” Contest. Someone else’s mother was chosen that year, but when we showed Mom the paragraphs each of us had written, she felt like the “Mother of the Year”. Those few short remembrances were an affirmation of her life well lived.
Mom was an extremely strong woman who single handedly reared five children. She always showered her children with unconditional love, she prayed for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren unceasingly. We consider that her greatest legacy, the gift that God will remember to enrich our lives as long as we live.
Virgie was predeceased by her beloved daughter Lizbeth Branick, and father of her children, Bruce Branick. She is survived by daughter Laura Branick; daughter, LeeDell Branick Poole and husband Bob; son, Jesse Branick and wife JoLynn; son Jeff Branick and wife Sherrie; her sister Donnie Perkins Beckcom and dearly loved family; brother Clyde Caughlin and dearly loved family. Grandchildren; Joanna Poole Duncan and husband Rick, Jeslyn Branick Hebert and husband Aaron, Jena Branick, Merritt Branick James and Ellie Grace Branick, Great Grandchildren; Sam and Kate Duncan; Jackson and Branick James.
The family is grateful for three dear ladies who cared for Mom so graciously, Fatima Jiminez, Estabana Joyas, and Miriam Zamora. Mom was a member of Grace Baptist Church of the Groves (formerly Central Baptist Church of Port Arthur) and we are thankful for those dear people who have ministered Christ’s love to her for many years.
A gathering of friends and family will be held at United Methodist Temple on Thursday, September 17, 2020 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Funeral services will be privately held for the family.

Olivia “Ollie” Aleman Vergara, sister of David Aleman

77, of Port Neches, passed away on Saturday, September 5, 2020. She was born in Port Arthur, Texas on June 24, 1943, to Marcial and Lilia Aleman. She was a proud graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School (1961) and graduated from Port Arthur College. Ollie was the first in her family to attend college. Her work career began at Phares and Phares Law Firm. She later was employed by Mobile Chemical and retired from DuPont Beaumont Works, after more than 20 years of service.
She married the love of her life, Philip (Phil) Vergara of Port Neches, in March of 1970. They were married for 50 wonderful years and had one son, Erik Vergara.
As a young girl, she loved playing all sports. She played softball for Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and played volleyball at the YMCA. While in high school, she received the “Best All-Around Athlete” award. While attending TJ, she was honored to be a Bugle Sergeant, with the Red Hussars Drum & Bugle Corps. Later in life, Ollie participated in a city bowling league, for several years. At an early age, her Dad taught her how to dance, to Big Band music, which she enjoyed very much and became an excellent dancer. Her hobbies included, reading, crossword puzzles and watching old movies. She also loved playing cards with her family. She greatly enjoyed her monthly gatherings, with her special Bunco group, that were together, for over 20 years.
Ollie was fearless and enjoyed traveling. At the age of 20, she drove her cousins, to Mexico City, by herself. Later, she took her mother and sister on a cross country trip, to Washington D.C. After retiring, she celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary, touring Europe, with her husband, Phil. Ollie, always placed family first, she was a devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and aunt. She loved her family and instilled wisdom and guidance to those around her. She had a beautiful smile, great sense of humor and an infectious and hardy laugh. Later in life, she faced life’s challenges and health issues, with great courage and unwavering faith, as a member of Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church. She was passionate about several charities, including the Red Cross, Heart Association and various Veterans support organizations, in honor, of her father’s years of service, in the U.S. Army.
Survivors include; husband, Philip Vergara, son; Erik Vergara; granddaughter, Shelbie Meador (Jacob) and great-granddaughter McKinley; brother, David Aleman (Brenda), sister, Tina Paquet (Larry) and a host of nieces, nephews, friends, and loved ones. Ollie is preceded in death by her parents, Marcial and Lilia Aleman, brothers Marcial Aleman Jr. and Carlos Aleman.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, September 11, 2020 at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Port Neches with Reverend Shane Baxter officiating. Entombment will follow at Oak Bluff Memorial Park. Visitation for family and friends will also be held Friday, September 11, 2020 from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. with a Rosary recited from 10:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at Levingston Funeral Home in Port Neches.

Jean Melancon, mother of Kathy Melancon

97, of Port Arthur passed away on September 1, 2020 at Focus Care in Center, Texas.
Jean was born on July 14, 1923 in Holland, Nebraska to parents Dena (Wubbles) and Ben Wismer. She had lived in Port Arthur since 1944. She was a member of St. Peter Catholic Church many years and then moved over to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.
Jean enjoyed working in her flower gardens, quilting, cooking and baking for all the family gatherings. Jean was a loving person who will be missed dearly.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Ben and Dena Wismer, her husband, E. J. Melancon, her daughter in law, Connie Melancon, her brothers, Merle, Roy, Dick Wismer and her sisters, Ruth Gilmore and Gerry Vanderbeck.
Jean is survived by her daughter, Kathy Perio and her husband, Larry of Orange, her sons, Terry Melancon and his wife, Liddy of Montgomery, and Lynn Melancon of Toledo Bend, nine grandchildren and twenty-three great grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers, Dale Wismer, Don Wismer, her sister, Erma Hartshorn all of Lincoln, NE.
A funeral service will be held on Friday, September 4, 2020 at 12:30 PM at Clayton Thompson Funeral Home in Groves, with gathering of family and friends from 10:30 AM until service time. Burial will follow at Oak Bluff Memorial Park.

Yvonne Sutherlin, mother of Beth Anne Sutherlin

passed away peacefully on August 3, 2020. Jewell Yvonne Aaron Sutherlin was born on October 5, 1930 in Port Arthur, Texas and was a lifelong resident. She was preceded in death by her parents, Mary S. Aaron and Jewell C. Aaron; her younger sister, Shirley Faye Williams; her loving husband of 55 years James E. Sutherlin; and her son James A. Sutherlin.
She graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1949. Yvonne later graduated from Lamar University with an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies. She retired from the City of Port Arthur in 1992 with 31 years of public service as an Administrative Assistant.
She was an active member of the First Christian Church in which she held numerous volunteer positions, including historian and librarian. Yvonne was an enthusiastic supporter of her hometown and participated in many civic and charitable organizations: Port Arthur TAMU Mother’s Club; as an officer in the D.A.R. and P.E.O.; as a volunteer at St. Mary’s Hospital; board of the Friends of the Port Arthur Public Library; member of the Southeast Texas Genealogical Society; and board member of the Museum of the Gulf Coast. She shared a deep interest in genealogy with her extended family and friends. She was very proud of her efforts to set up the Port Arthur Public Library’s historical photos archive. As past Chair of the Jefferson County Historical Commission and of the Port Arthur Historical Society she prepared data and filed applications with the Texas State Historical Commission for approval of several historical markers under the National Register of Historic Places. Many of her projects were for the benefit of Lamar State College, Port Arthur. She was honored to play a significant role in the compilation of Port Arthur Centennial History 1898-1998.
But perhaps Yvonne was best known for always having a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies ready to share with anyone who crossed her path. She was an accomplished seamstress and gardener, loved playing her piano, and accumulated many memories travelling with friends and family.
She is survived by daughter Beth Anne Sutherlin Coakley (Ron) of Bedford, TX, daughter in law Lynne Lange, son David Franklin Sutherlin (Annie) of Tyler, TX, four grandchildren; Lynn Coakley Jones (Andy), Aaron James Sutherlin (Molly), Erin Coakley Silmon (Keith), Kendall Paul Sutherlin; and 6 great-grandchildren, Haley, Avery, Nate, Ellis, Harper, and Levi.
The family would like to thank the caring staff of Heritage House, specifically her nurse of four years, Rochika Jenkins, and Heart of Texas Hospice for years of compassionate attention. I
n lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Museum of the Gulf Coast, 700 Procter Street, Port Arthur, Texas 77640 or Friends of the Port Arthur Public Library, 3601 Cultural Center Drive, Port Arthur, Texas 77640.
A visitation for family and friends will begin at 10:00 a.m., Friday, August 14, 2020 at First Christian Church in Port Arthur with a memorial service to follow at 11:00 a.m. Burial will be in Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Katherine Loraine McCorkle Gaston Blanton, mother of Kathy Gaston and Sam Houston faculty member

of Cypress, Texas, was born December 20, 1920 in Jennings, Louisiana to Henry W. McCorkle and Ethel Geyman McCorkle. She spent most of her life in Port Arthur, Texas.
Katherine and her first husband, G. Ellis (Bubba) Gaston, Jr. were parents of daughter Kathy Gaston Riddile Hartzog and sons Kenneth Andrew Gaston and George Ellis Gaston.
Katherine was a graduate of Lamar University with a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in counseling. Katherine taught at Sam Houston Elementary School for 26 years. She was a life-long member of The United Methodist Temple where she was a member of the Wesley Class and United Methodist Women. Upon retirement, she served as a counselor for the United Board of Missions. Katherine was active in the AT chapter of the P.E.O. She was a good friend and teacher to many and will be dearly missed.
Preceding Katherine in death were her parents, first husband Bubba Gaston, her second husband Robert (Bob) Blanton, Jr., sister Christine M. Crochet and brother John A. McCorkle. She is survived by her daughter Kathy RiddileHartzog (Jim) of Cypress, Texas, son Ken Gaston of Santa Barbara, California, son George Ellis Gaston (Merianne) of Cedar Park, Texas. Grandchildren John (Sarah) and Kenny Riddile, Andrew and Leah Gaston and Robyn Riojas (Rigo). Great grandchildren Caroline, Andrew and Isaac Riddile and Roman and Risa Riojas, and many nieces and nephews.
Services will be held Monday, June 1, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. at Clayton Thompson Funeral Home, 5200 39th Street, Groves, Texas, with a gathering of family and friends from 1:00 pm until service time. Burial will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Inez Joy Matlock, mother of Ronnie Campbell

96, of Port Arthur passed away on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at Community Retirement Center.
Inez was born on November 6, 1923 in Port Arthur, Texas to parents Anthony Nicholas Akery and Mary Botary Akery. She was a lifelong resident of Port Arthur and a member of United Methodist Temple. She worked at both Texaco and Gulf Refineries as a stenographer and clerk for 20 plus years. Inez was President of the L'Manar Lebanese Club, and a member of United Methodist Temple Choir and United Methodist Women. Inez was a loving person who will be missed dearly.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Rudolph Matlock, her son, Douglas Matlock, her sisters, Ruth Emery, Doris Gibson, and Carole Dittmier. Inez is survived by her son, Ronald Campbell and son in law, Lindsay Harris of Port Arthur, TX, her daughter, Laurel Johnson and son in law, Arthur Johnson of Pearland, TX, her grandchildren, Alex Johnson and Kayla Johnson, both of Pearland, TX, her brother, Robert L. Akery and sister in law, Peggy Akery of Reddington Beach. Fla.
The family will hold a private graveside service on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Arrangements were entrusted to Clayton Thompson Funeral Home in Groves.

Louise Schenkewitz, principal of Terrell School and other school faculties

entered the gates of Heaven on November 20, 2019. She was born October 9, 1933 to parents Tony and Lula Mae Fontenot in Port Arthur, Texas. She was a graduate of Stephen F. Austin High School. She worked for the Port Arthur ISD for 33 years, serving as secretary At Stephen F. Austin, Pease Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Jr. High and the PAISD Administration Building. She attended Lamar University at night and summers while working as school secretary. She graduated with honors with a degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Supervision and certification in School Administration. Louise taught intermediate levels at Dick Dowling Elementary. She was named American History Teacher of the Year in 1977 and 1978. She supervised instruction at several Port Arthur schools and was Principal at Sims and Tyrrell Elementary Schools. She retired from Tyrrell Elementary. Following her retirement, she taught at Lamar University as an adjunct instructor in the Education department. During her career, she was awarded an Honorary Life Membership to the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers as a parent and also as a teacher. She has been a member of the Alpha Omega chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma since 1976 and served as Alpha Omega Chapter president from 1990-1992. She was awarded the Chapter Achievement award in 1996. Other past professional memberships include Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Assn., Phi Delta Kappa and International Readers Assn. After retirement, Louise volunteered as a counselor at United Board of Missions and was a member of the Hibiscus Garden Club, and served as president from 1990-1992. She was a member of First Baptist Church of Port Arthur for many years, where she loved teaching the Adult Ladies Sunday School class. She was also a long-time member of the Texas Artists Museum. Louise loved painting with oils and watercolors, as well as collecting art. She loved travelling with a group of friends and also loved spending time at their lake house on Toledo Bend. Her greatest joy was spending time with her sons and their families. Louise was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Otto Schenkewitz, parents Tony and Lula Mae Fontenot; brothers Jay Maxey, Jim Fonteno, Bobby Fontenot and Donald Joe Fontenot; sisters Margaret Bell, Manon “Blue” McFarland and Gladys Walsh. She is survived by her sons Brad Schenkewitz (wife Freda) of Moss Point, MS and Jay Schenkewitz (wife Patsy) of Carrollton, TX; brother Kermit Fonteno (wife Ouida) of Red Oak, TX; six grandchildren: Dr. Kyle Schenkewitz (wife Jean) of Waverly, IA, Anna Mayfield of Hurley, MS, Laura Schenkewitz of Pascagoula, MS, Sarah Dubose (Tyler) of Edmond, OK, Ryan Schenkewitz of Houston, TX and Molly Louise Schenkewitz of Carrollton, TX; seven great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. Funeral services are scheduled for 2:00 PM on Saturday, November 23, 2019 at Levingston Funeral Home, 5601 39th Street, Groves, TX. Visitation will be held from 12:00 to 2:00 prior to the funeral. Graveside service will be held at Greenlawn Memorial Park following.

Dorothy Marie "DoeDoe" (Becker) Turner, mother of Mike Turner

92, passed away on June 24, 2020. She was born on May 14, 1928 to Meindert “Mike” and Carrie Fett Becker.
In scripture, the Lord inspired in the heart of King Solomon a question, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies…”; though she would never have claimed, in the gentle, sincere nature of Dorothy that question was answered. She was always caring, faithfully loving, and unconditionally proud of the loved ones that God had given her, devoting herself to constant stewardship of whatever this life brought her way. She was blessed with two sons, but in her heart was an inexhaustible sense of motherhood. After losing her sister, Rudell, she took in her two children and raised them as her own. To “DoeDoe”, her four children were her pride and joy, and she worked hard to provide and encourage each of them always. Her motherly nature extended to countless others, concerning herself with countless needs, good causes, and opportunities to help whoever needed it. She was an antiquing expert, especially with her best friend, Dorothy Gouner. Following the example of her mother, she became the hardworking matriarch of her family, working hard and progressing constantly throughout her career. Family gatherings and events were a joy, because it meant having her loved ones together, especially at Christmas and other special times, and she always included her entire family, near and far. Truly, the strength of her character was only rivaled by the love that she had for her family. She was always there for those that needed her most. “For her price is far above rubies”, Dorothy’s generous giving, not of earthly goods, but of her love, made an immeasurable impact on many hearts and defined for her family the meaning of unconditional. As she ended her visit on this Earth and passed into the arms of the Lord, she will forever be missed by all those that saw her for what she unfailingly was: an unwavering Christian, a true friend, and the definition of mother.
Left to honor her memory are her son, Michael Turner and wife, Linda; nephew, Stephen Rutherford; niece, Stacey Kehtel and husband, Kenny; daughter-in-law, Elizabeth “Liz” Turner; grandchildren, Chad Turner, Jason Turner and wife, Rachel, and Lisa Rutherford; great-granddaughter, Sydney Turner; and a host of extended family, friends and loved ones.
Preceding Dorothy in death are her parents; son, Gregory Lynn Turner; sister, Rudell Pauline Smith; and cousin, Johanna Petra (Henny) Seeuwen.
Visitation for family and friends will be on Saturday, June 27, 2020 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., at Wildwood Baptist Church, 101 Wildwood Dr, Village Mills, TX 77663. Dorothy’s life honoring funeral service will follow at 10:00 a.m, also at the church, with Bro. Jimmy Linn officiating, and a private family burial at Greenlawn Memorial Park, 3900 Twin City Hwy, Groves, TX 77619.