LaWanda Marie Huckaby Brown was born on August 16, 1933, in Gilmer, Texas, to William Jeffery Huckaby and Versie Loden Huckaby. And God smiled, knowing how much joy and love this little girl would bring to her family and friends during her lifetime. She passed away on Friday, October 6, 2023, at the age of 90, at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, Texas, and God smiled to welcome her home.
LaWanda grew up in East Texas, attending elementary school in East Mountain, near Longview, with her big brother Russell. Because of the Great Depression and WWII, her family moved several times, going from East Texas to Dallas, then out to the oil fields of West Texas, where LaWanda graduated from Midland High School in 1950. She met the love of her life, Robert Brown, when he was working at his father’s gas station, where her father was a customer. After meeting again at the swimming pool at Air Terminal the summer before her senior year, LaWanda and Robert started dating. They eloped to Carlsbad, New Mexico, on February 5, 1950, when they were supposed to be at a dance. They made it home on time and didn’t tell their parents about the marriage until the night LaWanda graduated from high school. She was 16 and he was 19.
Together, LaWanda and Robert raised four boys. They loved The Lord and found a church home for their family at Northside Baptist Church in Odessa. While Robert worked for the Odessa Fire Department, LaWanda corralled Steve, Jim, Tom and Don. She was a true “homemaker”, always there when Robert and the boys came home, with something good to eat on the stove. After the boys were grown, LaWanda and Robert moved to West Odessa and operated a large pecan farm. Their farm soon became the favorite place for the family to gather and many special memories were made there. LaWanda was an excellent cook. Baking was the way she relaxed, and her specialties were her cookies and her pecan pies. The children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren always knew the cookie jar would be full when they visited, and she took great pleasure in fixing each one’s favorite dish on special occasions. Many friends also enjoyed the gift of one of her special pecan pies.
Throughout her life, LaWanda was active in her church and looked forward to being with her church family at Northside on Sundays and Wednesday nights. She was a member and officer of the Sparkettes, with other wives of firefighters. She also loved her volunteer work with the Juliette Society of The Globe Theater of the Great Southwest. LaWanda was fun-loving and gracious. She made everyone who visited feel like family and, in addition to her sons, many of their friends, as well as church members and firefighters through the years, called her “Mom” and loved her dearly. LaWanda treasured time spent with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, always looking forward to their visits and phone calls. She considered being the mother of four sons who were Christians, who were happy, and who were successful in life, to be her greatest accomplishment, next to her marriage to Robert. Their union lasted until Robert passed away on their 72nd wedding anniversary, February 5, 2022.
LaWanda was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Junior Brown, her parents, Jeff and Versie Huckaby, her in-laws, Judas and Lorea Brown, and her brother, Russell Jerome Huckaby.
LaWanda is survived by her sons, Dr. Steve Brown and wife, Jan, of Odessa, Texas, Tom Brown and wife, Neva, of Gardendale, Texas, Jim Brown and wife, Shirley, of San Angelo, Texas, and Dr. Don Brown of Granbury, Texas, sisters-in-law Helen Brown of Altus, Oklahoma, and Billie Huckaby of Concord, California. LaWanda had 10 grandchildren, Amy Ortiz (Steven) of Odessa, Texas, Jeff Brown (Erica) of Odessa, Texas, Trevor Penn of Fort Worth, Texas, Tyler Penn of Fort Worth, Texas, Justin Brown (Leslie) of Temple, Texas, Dr. Sheila Delony (Dr. John Delony) of Franklin, Tennessee, Howard Brown of Odessa, Texas, Shawn Brown (Chandra) of Lubbock, Texas, Dr. Jesse Brown (Dr. Loralee Brown) of Argyle, Texas, and Hailee Brown of Stephenville, Texas, as well as 20 great-grandchildren. LaWanda is also survived by two very special “daughters”, Janice Anderson (Terry) of Odessa, and Elizabeth Brown of Aurora, Colorado, as well as a host of extended family members and friends.
Services for LaWanda will be held at Northside Baptist Church, 100 West 50th St., Odessa, Texas, on Thursday, October 12, 2023, at 1:00 p.m., with longtime friend and pastor, Clydel Chapman, officiating. Interment will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, October 11, 2023, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., at Sunset Funeral Home, 6801 East Business 20 in Odessa.
Pallbearers will be grandsons Jeff Brown, Steven Ortiz, Justin Brown, Howard Brown, Shawn Brown, and Dr. Jesse Brown. Honorary pallbearers will be grandsons Trevor Penn, Tyler Penn, and Dr. John Delony, and great-grandsons Brice Brown, Brendon Brown and Matthew Ortiz.
The family would like to extend sincere thanks to Dr. Jay Naidu and Dr. Robert Chappell for their special care of LaWanda during this illness and throughout the last thirty years. Thanks is also extended to their staff members, including Christina, Candy and Jason. Thanks to Dr. William Dodson and his staff at Paradigm Physical Therapy for treating LaWanda with special care and to LaWanda’s wonderful home caregivers, Emma Galvan, Angela Garcia, and Martha Aguilar, for making it possible for her to happily stay in her much-loved home.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Northside Baptist Church Mission Fund, Odessa, Texas.