May 23, 1949 – October 12, 2012

Estella Delphia Wallace went to work in God’s garden today…. and to pepper the heavenly theologians with savvy questions.

A vigil for family and friends will begin at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 17, 2012, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Franklin, Texas. A Rosary will be recited at 10 a.m., Thursday morning, October 18, 2012, at the church, with a Mass of Christian Burial to follow. Interment will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Hearne, Texas.

She was the valiant woman of Proverbs, strong, wise, compassionate, hard -working. She was a character, a tiny dynamine who once chased down her mugger, catching him three times and hitting him trying to get her purse back. He only got away because he pushed her and she sprained her ankle. Everyone in her good graces knew she would always be there, always look after them. Anyone not in her good graces had the good sense to stay as far away from her as possible. She was also the kind of woman who would go up to somebody who was hitting their kid at the grocery store and let them have it! She never put up with wrong doing if she saw it. And she never had any problem making a scene. 

She was the Samaritan woman at the well, asking Jesus blunt, skeptical, insightful questions, being then won over completely in the end, bringing many with her. She saw that Gospel story as mirroring her own conversion and wanted it read at her funeral mass.

She lived with ingenuity and determination. Every place she lived, no matter what a dump it was, she made it pretty and cozy and homey in one creative way or another and she could make a good meal out of just about anything or almost nothing. She could make any yard a paradise.

She loved antique roses, tea, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters, Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell, quilting, gardening, hard work outside, and scrabble. She hated grasshoppers, strong winds, boring conversations, bad grammar, bad manners, lousy cooking, and paying bills. She noticed everything and was interested in most of what she saw and heard about. She was sharp, curious, and opinionated.

She was a Jill of all trades doing everything from grounds maintenance at A & M to selling condos, to working in the rice lab, and forest genetics, to tutoring Aggies in English, to mowing lawns, to being a church secretary. Sometimes she had crazy ideas that didn’t work out but she was not afraid to try new things. She was not afraid of much. 

She came from Corpus Christi to study horticulture at A&M as a very young mother in 1969 and stayed in College Station for almost 30 years before moving to Calvert and into her dream Victorian farmhouse, which she quickly surrounded with roses.

She was a passionate, powerful personality, a fiercely devoted mother, a grandmother involved in the daily lives of her grandchildren and who was their perpetual go to person and confidant. She was an affectionate, loving wife, a gardener of almost magical talent; someone who was always moving, who got things done.

She acted in and directed plays at Stage Center in the 80s but generally was a one-woman show in real life anyway and eventually that show took up more of her time and interest.

She was a hippie in the 60s and 70s, then a devout convert to Catholicism in her later years who loved to talk theology and taught classes at her church. She was known for her practical wisdom, wit, and strength of character, for her funny, sage and frank remarks, her pithy observations about people, life, relationships and the ways of the world. She was active in AA for many years and helped countless people in their struggle to start a new life.

Her memory is cherished by her family, especially her by her husband of 25 years, Thomas Heck, who was the best thing that ever happened to her; by her daughter, Shawn Chapman; her son, Mark Manning; and her daughters-in-law, Jamie Manning, Shawna Manning, and Cindy Green; her former husband, Tim Manning and his wife Mary Hohl; her stepsons, Chris Heck, Russell Heck and his wife, Kim; her stepdaughters, Nancy Hilliard and Sarah Bean; and her grandchildren, Maire and Roise, Emilie, Augustine, Oliver, Isabel, and Helayna, Sean and Tory, Landon and Tinley, Abigail and Gracie, Cody, Lyndsey and Caitlin; her great-grandchildren, Miley, Ryder and Avery; her cousin, Raymond Premont “”Monty Ray””, who was like a brother to her; and Jacki Spicer, a cousin’s child who was like a daughter to her; her in-laws, Frank, Karin, and Hans Pauc and Ann Chapman; her friends, especially Ellen Miller, her dear friend of more than 30 years, and Lily Panella and Liz Alexander, and by her soul friend and spiritual guide, Father Greg Mclaughlin.

Delphia was preceded in death by her parents, Richard and Ruth Wallace of Corpus Christi; and three sons-in-law, Marc Pauc, Robert Chapman, and Greg Hilliard; and her stepson, Gene Heck.

She was her husbands’ joy and crown, and “Her children rise up and call her blessed.”

She lived through many very hard times and difficult circumstances throughout her life and came through them stronger than ever. She was an example of courage, gratitude, positive thinking, liveliness, and of daring hope all her life.

She was diagnosed with lymphoma and dementia in 2008. No matter what she went through or how confused she became her love was still evident. Even as she declined more and more from dementia she was still teaching us. And now everyone in Heaven had better watch out.

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