The pelican papers

A big bird’s eye view

Aunt Bobo: A eulogy

Posted by Ron George on June 1, 2013

Aunt Bobo

Eva Lorraine Berry Stevenson: 1927-2013

Four generations of our family gathered in Salado through the Memorial Day weekend to reunite, wade in the creek and stand once again in a cemetery overlooking that small Texas town to scatter the ashes of a loved one. This time, it was Aunt Bobo, Mom’s youngest sister. What follows is the eulogy given at the Berry family gravesite.

Eva Lorraine Berry Stevenson died Monday, April 29, 2013, after a long illness. She was 86. Aunt Bobo was attended at her bedside by a loving family. She was known and loved by many, and each had a special name for her: Mrs. Stevenson, Bobo, Coco, Eva Lorraine, Rainey, Mom and Second Mom, to mention a few.

Lorraine was born on a snowy day in Salado, Jan. 4, 1927. She was the third daughter of Cecil and Eva Stevens Berry, and was reared in Salado. She attended Salado schools until she was 15; and yes, the Berry girls walked miles to school. They looked out for each other (Mama Eva insisted); and, of course, everyone in town looked out for them, too.

Mom told me that from childhood Aunt Bobo always wanted to do for people. “I’ll do it, let me do that” was Aunt Bobo’s childhood mantra. By the time I knew her, she was well into her 20s and had added the words, “for you.” Her life’s pattern of doing for others was not one of grand gestures. She grabbed no headlines and took no credit. She did little things for people, acts of kindness that came naturally for her. She was more than a helper, though; she was a carer, a gentle lover of her neighbors and her kin. She cared and cared and cared and did and did and did for others until her energy was spent. To use a biblical phrase, she poured herself out though not as a ransom but as a gift.

The Berrys moved to Corpus Christi in 1942. Lorraine finished high school at Sundean School near the family’s residence in Perry Place. She married Charles H. Stevenson, Jr. on April 27, 1952. They were blessed with 30 years together until Charlie’s death in 1982.

Lorraine was kind, gracious – and always well dressed. She loved playing golf and was always color-coordinated with matching pink hat, pink top, pink shorts, pink socks – and pink golf balls. She was well known as a gracious provider of large meals for family and friends. Her kitchen was often filled with laughter as she slowly – sometimes very slowly – prepared marvelous meals to be served at her preferred hour of 10 p.m.

Four generations of kinfolk gathered to remember Aunt Bobo and wade in Salado Creek

Four generations gathered to remember Aunt Bobo and wade in Salado Creek

Lorraine is survived by her daughter, Deborah Lorraine Stevenson, and son, Wyatt Becker Stevenson, both of San Antonio; seven grandchildren, Michael Brandon Snyder of Kingwood; Heather Lorraine Sullivan of Corpus Christi; Brayton Charles Lee of College Station; Meagan Leigh Stevenson and Kevin Charles Stevenson of San Antonio; Nicholas Alexander Michael and Christian Thomas Michael of Austin; and two sisters, Martha Elizabeth “Ditty” George of Corpus Christi and Reba Nell “Ricki” Migues of Decatur; numerous nieces and nephews, in-laws and friends, including James W. Wray of Corpus Christi.

I’ll always remember Aunt Bobo as a beautiful woman with a radiant smile, a warm hug and a gentle, often quirky, sense of humor. I guess I’ve had a bit of a crush on her from childhood, when we lived in Virginia. Bobo was my glamorous aunt from Texas who flew to Virginia and stayed with us while Charlie – a lawyer and lobbyist – was on business in Washington, D.C. I doubt we ever would have known the pleasures of the Flagship and Watergate restaurants across the Potomac if she and Charlie hadn’t come to town and swept us into circles we might not have known otherwise. Perhaps the best of all these visits, though, was when we packed off to College Park, Maryland, on Oct. 11, 1958, to watch the Aggies beat the University of Maryland Terrapins 14-10. “Turtle soup!” the Aggies chanted. “Turtle soup! Have you had your turtle soup?”

Bobo wore the dignities of her life gracefully. It was always clear to me that she came to Virginia to be with her family not to hobnob in D.C. She always brought gifts. My favorite was a Charlie Brown doll I kept through high school, college and seminary until 1981, when a homeless child claimed it from my office at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hamilton, Texas. I’m sure Aunt Bobo would have approved.

A mug from the far side: A favorite gift among many

A mug from the far side: A favorite gift among many

Such artifacts of family relationships are vital to me and perhaps to all of us. One of my very dear possessions is, of all things, a coffee mug Aunt Bobo gave me for Christmas years ago. It bears a Gary Larson cartoon. Goldfish have escaped their flaming fishbowl. One says, “Well, thank God we all made it out in time … ‘Course, now we’re equally screwed.” Did I say Aunt Bobo had a quirky sense of humor? She kept me in Gary Larson calendars for years. My desk at the Caller-Times newspaper was festooned with cartoons too good to discard: Two bear hunters find a port-a-potty deep in the woods. “Well,” says one, “I guess it answers that question.”

Aunt Bobo bore her pain with courage and determination, and she bore the pain of others as well – family, friends and neighbors. She could be a bit stubborn; but more than that, she could be steely in the face of adversity. She preferred to be a gentle lover, but she also was capable of tough love, too. I believe with all my heart that she always sought to do the right thing rather than what was convenient or self-serving. That’s something I believe is true of all three daughters of Mama Eva and Daddy Cecil. It’s true, as my cousin Sharon Migues Baca (Aunt Ricki’s oldest) once put it, these Berrys didn’t fall far from the tree.

The last time I saw Aunt Bobo at Debbie’s home in San Antonio, she squeezed my hand and said she loved me. I do believe she knew me when she said it and that she meant it as always. I believe that no feebleness of mind or body robbed her of her essential character, that of a loving and generous heart who always wanted to do for others. Even me, Cousin Thibault – her nickname for me – a rascal with egg on his face.

I love you, too, Aunt Bobo. I always have, and I always will. Thank you for being a sweet, gentle, loving presence in my life, in our lives, a witness to the power of love often with true grit and determination. This gathering is witness that you left the world a better place, and all of us are better people for having known you and loved you.


4 Responses to “Aunt Bobo: A eulogy”

  1. Sharon Baca said

    Ron, Not planning anything untoward, just thinking ahead. Mom’s and mine. It’s either, you, Jaye or Maryam. This fourth generation might be a little tougher, especially realizing that there is now a fifth gen, when you start counting with Mama Eva and Daddy Cecil. Yikes!

  2. Charlene Hardy said

    “Quite a lady! Thanks for sharing—— Charlene

  3. Patsy Durham said

    Beautifully said, and the LOVE shines through – not her love for you, though that was obvious, but YOUR LOVE for HER.

  4. Elizabeth McCafferty said

    I”m sorry about Aunt Bobo, Dad. That eulogy was beautiful and loving and heartfelt and…incredible. I love you very much.

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