Last week as the city of Houston, and most of Southeast Texas, was dealing with Hurricane Harvey and massive flooding, my sweet grandmother went home to be with the Lord. In addition to the stress and worry over flooding and the safety of our family and friends, we have been grieving the loss.
God has been very gracious to us through it all. My immediate family is dry and safe. The flood waters around my aunt’s house, where my grandmother was living, receded and did not cause the difficult situation to be worse than it already was. The flooded streets have prevented us so far from gathering together to tell stories and laugh and cry. Hopefully next week we’ll be able to do so.
For today, I want to share with you a little about my grandmother and the testimony of her faith. My grandmother, Anita, was a strong believer and a great encouragement to all who knew her. Her smile and her laugh were genuine and infectious.
My grandparents, Tom and Anita, married young, by today’s standards, and shared an enduring love for each other. My grandfather died nearly 20 years ago, but my grandmother never stopped loving him and missing him. Their example of love throughout their marriage is an inspiration to me.
Life wasn’t always easy for my grandparents. They married at the end of WWII. Like many men of his time, my grandfather served in the Navy through the war. My grandparents kept letters they wrote to each other through those times.
After they married, my grandfather went on to become a Baptist pastor. My grandparents were missionaries in South America for many years. After my uncle died in a construction accident here in the States, my grandparents returned to Texas and did not go back on the mission field.
My grandfather continued to work in ministry until his retirement, and my grandmother worked in education until her retirement. Through it all, they raised my dad, my uncles, and my aunt. Once they retired, they loved to travel, often taking some of the grandkids along. I have great memories of Glorieta, Carlsbad Caverns, and 4th of July weeks at the beach.
My grandparents left an enduring legacy of faith in our family: children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who love the Lord and serve Him in many ways. It’s my grandmother’s faith, as well as her love and her laughter, that I will remember most.
A couple years ago, we had the joy of celebrating our middle son, Gabriel, as he professed faith and became a communing member of the church. My grandmothers were both able to attend. After church, my grandmother, “Mom” as we always called her, hugged my neck and told me how proud she was of us, how thankful she was that our boys love the Lord.
As her health failed, my grandmother continued to demonstrate the strong faith she had in the Lord. My aunt said that she and my grandmother had conversations about the challenges she was facing as her health got worse. My grandmother accepted what was happening and the hardships. She trusted God to carry her through it, one way or another. And He did.
In the last couple of weeks, my grandmother knew it was nearing time for her to go. We gathered together to hold her hand, to hug her neck, to tell her we loved her. She smiled and squeezed our hands. She told us she loved us. She had joy and faith that she would see Her Savior and also her beloved Tom. Her hope was in her eternal life with Jesus and in the coming resurrection.
I miss her terribly. My heart aches, and my eyes hurt from crying. But I know I will see her again. And when that happens, there will never again be tears and pain and separation and death.
I could tell wonderful stories, funny ones too, about my grandmother’s life. She loved to laugh. She loved to tease. She loved to be with her family. What I will remember is her laughter, her smile, her love, and her faith. I pray that I will honor her legacy in my own life and faith.
This is the obituary my aunt and cousins wrote. It’s a lovely tribute to my grandmother.
Anita Newell Green, a native Texan born on the anniversary of Texas Independence, March 2, 1926 was received into the loving arms of her Lord and Savior August 28, 2017. She was the youngest daughter of Virgil “Merle” and Jesse “Pearl” Newell.
She graduated from Reagan High School before attending The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. While she did not graduate from UMHB, she was an honorary member of the class of ‘47 and enjoyed celebrating yearly homecoming events until recently. In 1945, Anita married the love of her life, Thomas Stuart Green in Temple, Texas and they were married until Tom’s death on April 10, 1999. Anita went on to graduate with a BA from Howard Payne University (‘49) in Brownsville, Texas and later received her M.Ed from the University of Houston (‘69).
After nine years of teaching, raising children, and serving as the pastor’s wife for several Baptist Churches, Tom and Anita were called to serve as missionaries for what was then known as the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. After language school in Costa Rica, the family moved to Paraguay in 1959. While in Paraguay, Anita was the director (principal) of Colegio Bautista de Villa Morra, the president of the Women’s Organization of the National Baptist Convention, and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Baptist Hospital.
Upon their return to the United States in 1970, Tom and Anita settled in Houston, Texas where Anita was an educator in the Houston Independent School District. As they settled into their new life in Houston they found a tumultuous and divided city along racial lines. As an educator, she was one of the first teachers in HISD to participate in “cross over” integration in support of equal education for all. She continued her career as a Magnet Coordinator at Davis High School where she worked tirelessly to provide a quality education for all students. Her last assignment was teaching High School English at Waltrip High School until her retirement in 1989.
In 1992, Tom and Anita moved to Huntsville, Texas and were active members of University Heights Baptist Church. As an active member of UHBC, Anita ministered in various ways. Whether one needed wise counsel, a friendly smile, or a compassionate hug. Anita touched many members of the church and the community. She led the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) and encouraged women of all ages to take an active part in missions. She demonstrated that faith as a member and leader of UHBC’s Widows’ group, Circle of Friends. She also touched the lives of many young college girls who needed the quiet respite of a home atmosphere and a home cooked meal.
Anita is preceded in death by her parents Virgil “Merle” (1979) and Jesse “Pearl” Newell (1984); her husband, Thomas Stuart Green (1999); son, Thomas “Skipper” Stuart Green Jr. (1970); her sister, UnaVee Newell Yeatts (2011); her brother, Alvin Newell (1928); great-granddaughter, Bethanne Miller (2002); as well as several other precious great-grandbabies who were also welcomed into the Lord’s loving arms.
Anita is survived by son David Allen Green and wife Linda; son Jon Dale Green and wife Carolyn; daughter, Annesta Green Lunde and husband Gary; as well as Rosa “Rosie” Elizabeth Elgueta. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Travis and his wife Sarah; Dale and his wife Melissa “Missy”; April and her husband Anthony; Rachel and her husband Matt; Benjamin “Ben” and his wife Echo; Amy and her husband Joshua; Aleece and her husband Matthew; as well as 14 dearly loved great-grandchildren. She is also survived by Gordon Yeatts and family; Harriet Yeatts Sweatt and family; and Paula Saraceno and family.
Her light brightened so many of our lives and we can not help but mourn. The world seems quite a bit dimmer without her, but those of us who knew and loved her know that the light she shared with us was a reflection of the True Light. Therefore, we rejoice that she is in the presence of Christ, at home with God and has joined that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on as we live and love through faith by the power of the Spirit. She will most be remembered giving her whole life in service of her Lord, Jesus Christ. Her faith has inspired her family. She will be missed.