Emogene Cox Wilson, 1930-2022
Emogene Cox Wilson, a kind and gentle woman who always looked for the good in people, died Sept. 21, 2022, from congestive heart failure.
She was 92.
Gene was the heart and soul of her family, a deeply loved matriarch of five generations, including four children, six grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
She was born March 17, 1930, the eldest child of H.P. “Tince” and Mattie Cox, sharecroppers who lived near Winnsboro, eking out a living doing whatever it took to provide for five children. It was a while before they enjoyed the benefits of indoor plumbing and electricity, but they always had what mattered most - faith, an enduring work ethic and a family devoted to one another.
Gene never shied away from duty, helping in the fields and around the house when she was young and later helping raise two sisters, Opal and Patricia, and two brothers, Robert and Kenny. She knew the value of education and worried when an unexplained eye infection forced her to stay at home in a dark room for extended periods during her high school years.
Money was always tight so, at age 17, she went to Dallas by herself to earn money for school clothes. She lived in a room at the Dallas YWCA, rode a bus downtown to work at a department store during the day and did filing for a company across the street at night, a shy country girl in the big city.
Gene got her coveted high school diploma from Winnsboro High School in 1948, moved back to Dallas for an office job at the telephone company and later married DeLeon Beasley. In 1951, living again in Winnsboro, she gave birth to Venus Suzanne “Susie” Beasley. More than a year later, her second daughter, Beverly Jane, tragically died shortly after birth. Gene never got to hold or know Beverly. The funeral was held while Gene, still critically ill from birth complications, was in the hospital. A lone photo of Beverly was placed in the family album, never forgotten.
Gene married Kenneth Wilson in 1953. He was a high school football standout at Winnsboro High School when she was cheerleader. They had two daughters, Janet Lynn in 1955 and Patricia Jolene in 1957. Gene worked at a variety of jobs – in a drug store, as a teller and an assistant at a bank and manager of a small grocery.
In 1962, Gene and Kenneth moved their three girls to Mineola where Gene worked at Gorman’s Jewelry and later retired from Whites Auto Store. Even while she worked full-time jobs, she was a devoted homemaker, tending a garden and sewing clothes. She coached softball teams and sacrificed whatever she could to make sure her girls had what they needed. She always was at Kenneth’s side, helping him at their rose nursery, fish farm, Texaco gasoline station and, finally, when he served as Wood County commissioner.
As the family grew, so did Gene’s quiet, supportive influence. She was the one family member around whom everyone would rally. She loved unconditionally, never judged and could always be counted on in times of need. She never had a bad word to say about anyone – she preferred to remain quiet or find something positive. She laughed easily, but not loudly. You only knew when tears streamed down her face.
A voracious reader of novels and mysteries, after retirement she accomplished a life goal. She read the King James Version of the Bible – Genesis to the Book of Revelation. Though she admitted there were some places she may have skimmed a bit when it became repetitive.
She loved Christmas lights, and her daughters made sure she always had a big outdoor display. Each year she would stand in the road, admiring the twinkling wonderland. On July 4th, she and Kenneth would sit in chairs in their driveway and gaze at the sky for fireworks at the Mineola Civic Center.
She was a member of Rose Hill Baptist Church. She also was an avid bowler in the senior leagues at Gateway Lanes in Mineola and was still bowling when she was in her 80s. She never bowled a 300 game, but loved the camaraderie and all the high fives she got after bowling a strike.
Gene enjoyed hosting immediate and extended family and friends during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays where she would trot out a cheese ball or cake she had made from a new recipe. There was always room at the table for one more, even if that meant serving smaller portions.
As Gene and Kenneth grew older, they created a quieter life cherishing time together, watching birds from their back porch rocking chairs, listening to the Gaither Family Gospel Hour or watching reruns of Perry Mason, Bonanza and Gunsmoke television shows and Agatha Christie movies. Gene liked listening to Emmy Lou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Christmas tunes and Celtic music while puttering around the kitchen.
She was a tireless and devoted caretaker to Kenneth, who died from complications of a brain tumor in 2010. And while devastated by his loss, she still had another 12 years to create memories. The grandchildren had children who had children, and Gene almost always had a baby on her lap or a toddler at her feet.
Most of her friends had passed away but Gene had a new close companion in her later years. His name was Oz, an African grey parrot that daughter Susie brought to live with them after Kenneth died. Oz and Gene had nonstop conversations and while he tried to bite everyone, he always was gentle with Gene, allowing her to pet his beak.
“Granny and Oz,” the bird could be heard singing to Gene every morning.
“Best friends forever,” Gene always responded.
Gene was preceded in death by parents, H. P. and Mattie Cox; daughter, Beverly; husband Kenneth; brother, Robert Cox; brothers-in-law, Joe St. Miklossy and Charles Foster; and sisters-in-law, Martha Lou Wilson and Dell Cox.
She is survived by daughters, Susie Reed of Mineola, Janet Naumann (Vance) of Austin and Jolene Bartlett (Rick) of Tyler; grandchildren, DeeAnn Ferguson and partner Justin Crump and his son Layne of Quitman, Brandy Reed and partner Scott Simms of Paris, Michael Reed of Mineola, Jennifer Hayes (Grayson) of Tyler, Bryce Bartlett (Rebecca) of Richardson and Blake Bartlett (Melody) of Tyler; great-grandchildren, Nic Geremonte (Mary), Cameron Reed (Jessica) and Milo Reed of Mineola, Gus Peacock (Alyssa) of Azle, Gracie Peacock and partner Kevin Zehnder of Swan; Will, Jack and Alice Hayes of Tyler and Thatcher Bartlett of Richardson; and great-great-grandchildren, Braelyn Geremonte and Chloe Reed of Mineola and Vivian and Adalynn Zehnder of Swan. She is also survived by sisters, Opal Foster of Fort Worth and Patricia St. Miklossy of Winnsboro; brother, Kenny (Paula) Cox of Kaufman; brother-in-law, Wayne Wilson of Tyler; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends who mourn her loss.
A visitation will be held at Beaty Funeral Home in Mineola on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by the funeral service at 11 a.m. Interment will follow at Roselawn Memorial Gardens.