Thelma Lee Cotton

Thelma Lee Cotton
July 16th, 1927 to January 2nd, 2020

Thelma Lee Cotton was born Thelma Lee Rector a few miles outside of Douglass, Texas in a log house with a dog trot. She was the second of 4 children to Joe Rector and Cora Lee Ainsworth Rector. As a young girl she did the cooking and took care of her younger sister and brother while her parents and older brother worked in the fields. She cooked on a wood stove and stood in a chair to reach the pots. This is the reason she was such a good cook. When she was not working, she enjoyed playing school with her younger brother and sister. Of course, she was always the teacher.

Later during the depression after her father’s mules were repossessed so he could no longer farm. The whole family worked as migrant farm workers chopping and picking cotton. The family was working on a farm near Lubbock, Texas living in a one room shack when WWII started. They went back to Nacogdoches county so her older brother could register for the draft. From there they moved to Orange county when her father got a job in the shipyard. They ended up living in north Vidor where she attended school. All the kids that lived on what is now Sawmill Rd waited for the school bus under a large pine tree on what is now FM

105. Under this tree is where she met the love of her life Delbert (Dee) W. Cotton. Dee after graduating was drafted into the Army and served in the Pacific. When he returned after the war they were married and lived in Orange, Texas. They moved back to Vidor in 1952 with their children Gene and Shelia.

Thelma worked several jobs. She delivered the Beaumont Enterprise and Journal for all of Vidor north of the railroad. She was the owner with her sister of a dress shop that was near where the Vidor Burger King is now. Next, she sold furniture for Fingers Furniture in Beaumont and later for Howell’s Furniture. When she had saved enough money, she quit work and started Lamar in 1962. She graduated Lamar in 1966 with a BS in Biology and a teaching certificate. She had finally go to be a teacher as she had always wanted. She taught math and science for the Vidor schools. She got her Distributive Education certification. She taught DE at Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur. She then taught DE at Kirbyville High School until she retired.

Thelma was a longtime member of Pine Forest Baptist Church where she taught Sunday school classes for many years.

Thelma enjoyed gardening, fishing in her pond and traveling. Most of all she loved her grandsons; Kennon & Keegan Cotton and Jeremy & Blake Womack and 8 great grandchildren; Adelynne, Belian, Coralee, Lincoln, Lauramae, Carenna, Witten, Miller and coming next month, Robert. She is also survived by 1 son; Gene Cotton and his wife Mary of Georgetown, Texas, 1 sister; Lerma Franklin and 1 brother; Burford Rector and his wife Linda. Thelma was preceded in death by her husband; Delbert W. Cotton, 1 daughter; Sheila Ann Womack and 1 brother; Milford Rector. Visitation was Sunday, January 5, 2020 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Memorial Funeral Home of Vidor. Funeral services were on Monday, January 6, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. at Pine Forest Baptist Church followed by interment at Restlawn Memorial Park.

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