Elizabeth Jane Willingham, 78, of Morton, passed away Thursday, January 7, 2021, in Morton.
She was born August 9, 1942, in Paducah, to H.M. and Mary Thomas Thomson.
She was preceded in death by her parents; and a brother, James Thomson.
Janie lovingly cared for her parents and brother through their final days.
She is survived by her husband, Gary; daughter, Annette Hodge and husband, Rickey, of Sundown; son, Todd Willingham and wife, Lesli, of Morton; brother, Tommy Thomson of Reno, Nevada; four grandchildren: Megan Tucker and husband, Mikel, Mackenzie Ramos and husband, Zachary, Paxton Willingham and Nash Willingham; and two great- grandchildren: Rylee Tucker and Maddox Tucker.
Lovingly referred to as Janie by all who knew her, she moved to Morton from Quanah in 1958.
She cherished her time at Morton High School, where she could be found making memories with her friends and her sweetheart Gary Willingham, being an Indian cheerleader, playing in the MHS band, making the square and stopping at the Malt Shop for a cherry coke.
Following graduation, Janie and Gary, both attended South Plains Junior College and were married in Sudan on September 10, 1960.
They moved into a small apartment above Mrs. and Mrs. T.W. Roberts’ house across from the Little League Park and Gary began his farming journey.
The happy couple enjoyed spending time with special friends.
Janie would later recount to her grandchildren fond memories of the time spent with Gary in the little apartment near the baseball fields.
Janie and Gary went on to have two children together, Jania Annette (Willingham) Hodge, born April 20, 1961 and Gary Todd Willingham, born October 23, 1962. They raised Annette and Todd in Morton.
A devoted mother, Janie spent many hours toting Annette and Todd to and from sporting events and other activities and she loved every minute of it.
Annette and Todd’s friends were always welcome at the Willingham house and many thought of Janie as a mother figure in their own lives.
A natural nurturer, Janie’s love made a lasting impact on all lucky enough to know her.
Annette married Rickey Hodge and Todd married Lesli (Paxton) Willingham, both of whom Janie loved dearly.
Janie and Gary had four grandchildren: Megan (Hodge) Tucker, Mackenzie (Hodge) Ramos, Paxton Todd Willingham, and Kristopher Nash Willingham.
Janie cherished her grandchildren and her role as Grandma.
She spent time making special memories filled with sleepovers with waffles for breakfast, coffee at the gin office, weighing trucks and helping Grandma work, playing in the sandbox, board games, reading books, baseball in the backyard, Easter egg hunts, chocolate cake, chocolate milk, sweet tea, Christmas fun, and so much more.
She spent many nights and nap times singing her grand babies to sleep with “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck”.
Janie was steadily present at her grandchildren’s many extracurricular activities and was a constant source of love and encouragement in their lives.
Friends of her grandchildren knew her as Grandma and she treated them all with the love and support she gave her own.
Megan and Mackenzie married Mikel Tucker and Zachary Ramos, respectively, and Janie was happy to welcome them to the family with open arms.
Janie had two great-grandchildren, Rylee and Maddox Tucker and she made sure they knew she loved them “a whole big bunch”.
At the time of her passing, Janie had a new great-grandchild on the way and she was so very excited for the baby to arrive.
Janie and Gary were the proud owners and operators of Willingham Gin, Inc, where she was also the bookkeeper. Janie’s dedication to agriculture, their customers, and the farming community as a whole was unmatched.
Whether she was marketing customer’s cotton, lending personal and professional advice, or simply being a constant source of positivity, she was always going above and beyond to help the producers succeed.
In addition to working outside the home running a successful business, Janie was a skilled homemaker, an involved member of the First United Methodist Church, bookkeeper for the Cochran County Cakeathon for over 30 years, served on the FSA County Committee, a member of the EDC, a member of the Emily Jr. Smith Study Club, where she was voted woman of the year.
She spent much time over the years serving wherever she saw a need in the community.
Her favorite past time was to be with Gary, her children and grandchildren, where she could be found showing unconditional love, providing endless encouragement and making special memories.
Janie spent her life serving others and as a result, had a lasting impact on all who knew her.
She was always willing to offer a listening ear and a piece of thoughtful advice for a friend.
She had a kind word and a bright smile for anyone lucky enough to meet her.
Her generosity, compassion, and genuine care for others made her uniquely special.
Janie was a faithful follower of the Lord and shared a Christ like love with all.
She was an angel on earth who placed her family at the center of her world. And in return, she was and will always be her family’s greatest treasure.
She is and will forever be missed terribly and her legacy of love and kindness will live on through all who were lucky enough to know her.
Funeral services were held at the First United Methodist Church in Morton January 9.
The family suggests memorials be sent to First United Methodist Church, 411 W. Washington, PO Box 693, Morton, Texas, 79346.