Betty Jean (B. J.) Waters Hennessee
B. J. was the daughter of Henrietta King Durham and Luke David Waters born on September 26, 1928 and passed away, at home, on July 7, 2019, after a lengthy illness. She married James Alton Hennessee on September 30, 1950 and they had two daughters Beverly Jean York and Karen Ruth Hennessee. She had three siblings Henrietta (Whitey) Spears, Ruth Porucznik (Gene) and Luke Waters (Mary Ann).
She began her married life in Sonoma, California where Jim was stationed at the Hamilton Air Force as a Master Sergeant after being recalled into service during the Korean conflict. After his discharge, they returned to Harlingen.
Her mother was born on El Sauz Ranch, part of the King Ranch. Her mother’s father, George Durham, came to the area with McNelly’s Rangers around 1875. She and her siblings spent many happy weekends on the ranch where her grandfather and uncles were foremen. Before television, her mother entertained the children with stories of bandit raids and riding the stagecoach to Brownsville where her mother attended school.
B.J. worked 20 years for the railroad and next worked for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 823 for 13 years before retiring. In 1996 she volunteered at St. Albans and was then employed as a part time employee. She later advanced to Parish Administrator and held that job until her retirement in her 80’s. In 1995, David Reed (now Bishop Reed) asked her to become the Assistant Altar Guild Directress and she became Directress in 1996. She also held the position of Treasurer and Altar Flower Chairman. She was honored with being Special Grandparent of the day school from 1994 - 1995 when her grandchildren were attending St. Alban’s Day School. She served two terms on the School Board. She was known as “Mother Superior” by the St. Alban’s congregation.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, siblings Luke Waters, Jr. and Henrietta (Hank), niece, Rebecca Pemelton, brothers-in-law Claude and Collins Hennessee and Jerry Smyth. She is survived by her sister Ruth Porucznik, sister-in-law Frances Smyth, brother-in-law Whitey Spears, daughters Beverly (Jack) York and Karen Ruth Hennessee, her grandchildren, Clinton Collins York and Stacy Karen York, step grandchildren, Bradley (Iliana) York, Michael York and Jack (Veronica) York and her special great grandson, Diego James York, numerous nieces, nephews, and step grandchildren, also, her faithful companion Dolly who never left her side while she was ill. Special thanks to Kindred Hospice and Brian Smith.
A memorial service is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Friday, July 12, at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1417 E. Austin, Harlingen, TX. Bishop David Reed will be officiating with a reception following the service.
In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to the St. Elizabeth Altar Guild, Women of St. Albans or St. Albans Church or charity of your choice.
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