In Loving Memory of
Laura Jo Rigsby Key
Laura Jo Rigsby Key
Author and Christian man of letters C.S. Lewis said, "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." If so, then Laura Keyâ€™s passingâ€"as a believer in Christ and a woman of visionâ€"on Sunday, March 20, 2016, simply marked another beginning for her, a transition from this life to one with even more potential and possibilities.
Born on July 20, 1930, in Quanah, Texas, Laura was welcomed by parents Preston Rigsby and Grace Deaton Rigsby Cates. Her siblings were Carolyn Rigsby Thompson (and husband Jackâ€"now deceased), Deaton Rigsby (and wife Jan) and Vivian Wynell Cates Brandt, now deceased. After her father left Lauraâ€™s family during the Great Depression, Lauraâ€™s mother worked in the clothing industry to support the Rigsby family (Grace later married Jack Cates in 1944). Laura grew up on a ranch in Carlton, Texas, attending elementary school in Hamilton and eventually, Evant High School, where she graduated as Valedictorian and divided her time as Football Sweetheart, a cheerleader and a first-string basketball player.
Upon graduating in 1948, Laura decided to pursue her education at Howard Payne in Brownwood, TX. Later, she would receive her Bachelorâ€™s degree in Education (with High Honors) from Texas Tech University, as well as her Masterâ€™s degree in Guidance Counseling from Lamar University in Beaumont, in 1976. She loved her work in public education and served in a variety of roles, including as an elementary math and science teacher, a guidance counselor and a diagnostician (specializing in Gifted/Talented and Special Education populations). Her life was complicated by the fact that Laura contracted polio at age 25, making the physicality of her life exceptionally demanding. Nevertheless, she was determined to realize her ambitionsâ€""Follow your dream," she would tell her daughters and granddaughters laterâ€"and continued to reach her goals, completing her coursework while enjoying Nat King Coleâ€™s Tea For Two, Sinatraâ€™s All or Nothing at All, Bernsteinâ€™s rendition of Rhapsody in Blue and later, Alan Jackson hymns.
Laura met and married Burtis Hollis after her freshman year in college; they later divorced, but Laura affirmed that the greatest day of her life came with the adoption of their daughter, Grace "Ann" Hollis Rife (and husband Wayne). Later, Laura was introduced to William C. Key and married him in the early 1980â€™s, but sadly, he passed away in 1990. At long last, she was fortunate to fall in love with Edward Hendersonâ€"and his cherished daughter, Kathy Burford Henderson (and husband Jim). Edward and Laura were inseparable until his death in August of 2014.
Lauraâ€™s redheaded tenacity and self-reliance were matched by her level-headed determination. She loved her daughter and granddaughters "fiercely" and directed her passion toward a variety of community causes after retiring from teaching in South Park ISD in Beaumont. She was a member of Beta Sigma Phi, Phi Kappa Phi, both First Baptist Church and the Newcomerâ€™s Club of College Station and several bridge clubs in the Brazos Valley. Usually, she was content to eat Blue Bell Ice Cream (Pralines nâ€™ Cream or French Vanilla) and spend timeâ€"often while watching Tech or TAMU football, perhaps during a game of bridge or 42â€"with her family and many friends; she kept up with her extensive network of loved ones via Facebook and was excited to explore new technology as she never tired of learning. When she felt restless, Laura traveled extensively: to Italy, (where she loved the pink hues of sunrise and sunset), to Scandinavia and Russia with her daughter Ann, on cruises with her granddaughters, to her beloved cabin at Crystal Beach or even home to Hamilton. Her loving temperament was reflected in her favorite, soothing colors (aqua and lavender); she enjoyed timeless, simple things, like intelligent conversation and watching hummingbirds at home. Her legacy of love, endurance and Christian faith will long be remembered.
Laura is survived by her daughter, Ann Hollis Rife and son-in-law Wayne T. Rife, as well as her granddaughters: Heather Rife Stage (and husband Clint), Kimberly Grace Rife, and Laura Ann Rife. She is also survived by her step-daughter, Kathy Henderson Burford and husband Jim, and their children, Amy Burford Fewox and Todd Burford (and wife, Sarah).
Friends and family will gather to honor Lauraâ€™s life on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, from 5:30 â€" 7:30 PM at Hillier Funeral Home in Bryan. Graveside services for Laura Key will be held on Thursday, March 24, 2016 (at 2pm) at Oakwood Cemetery in Hamilton, Texas. Lauraâ€™s Honorary Pallbearers will include: Deaton Rigsby, Wayne Rife, Sam Thompson, Freeman Clark, Joe Allen Scamardo and Michael Scamardo.
The family invites friends to log onto www.hillierfuneralhome.com to learn more and leave condolences.
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