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Memorial to Willie Mae Block Winberg

Willie Mae Block Winberg

Longtime Beaumont resident and member of a third generation Jefferson County family Willie Mae Block Winberg (Mrs. Travis Walker Winberg, Sr.) joined the communion of saints Saturday, January 16, 1999.

Born September 17, 1908, Mrs. Winberg will be buried on the farm of her childhood, at the end of Block Street in Port Neches. The farm became Block Cemetery, now Oak Bluff Cemetery.

Her forefathers settled the Mid-County area arriving first in 1847. She was the beloved daughter of Port Neches patriarch, Will Block who farmed, was on the Port Neches and Nederland School Boards, and was a local bank director. Her beautiful Dutch mother, Dieu Kolemay Block, had arrived with the original Dutch settlers in Nederland in 1898 at the age of 17. Willie May was the fourth daughter of the family. She was born in a house her father built for his bride on a high bluff overlooking Block’s Bayou. The house, still standing, is considered one of the four oldest homes in Port Neches.

Mrs. Winberg was Valedictorian of Port Neches High School at age 16 in 1925. She played tennis and basketball throughout her schooling. With special healing talents affirmed at an early age, Billie Winberg wanted a medical career. She attended CIA (now TWU) in Denton and John Sealy in Galveston, graduating from Nursing School with honors in 1929. She was named Miss John Sealy. Upon graduation she was made head surgical nurse and OB specialist at St. Theresa Hospital in Beaumont and worked there for 10 years. After retiring professionally, she continued nursing relatives, friends, and neighbors. She practiced her healing energy until weeks before her death.

Eleven of the next two generations of Block family members have chosen medical careers, partially because of family tendencies and specifically because "Aunt Billie" or "Mimi" showed true joy in the service of health.

She nurtured all she encountered by her gentle example, as if everyone was equal in Gods’ eyes and hers. No retribution, jealously or self importance appeared. She cared for sisters, brothers, her husband, children, step children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews for long periods of time all the while providing a balanced, loving and stable home environment in good times and bad.

Her late husband, a mechanical wizard, Travis Walker Winberg, had a scales service business on Railroad Avenue at Royal for 8 years servicing both meat markets and industrial oil related industries. Billie reared their children and kept the books. In 1950, the Winbergs moved from Beaumont to Dallas, then to Houston with Toledo Scales.

Peace flowed from her being. Her serenity manifested itself in her quiet ways, gentle movement, calming voice and general grace. The blessed assurance of a strong faith sustained her. A lifelong Methodist, she was born into the Port Neches Church. Her father was a district secretary for the Beaumont Methodist Conference. In Beaumont, she was a member of the Alpha Omega Sunday School Class of First United Methodist Church, in Houston she was a member of St. Paul’s Church.

When the Winbergs returned to Toledo Bend Lake they joined Hemphill Methodist. They landscaped the church grounds, founded the Easter Sunrise Service and coordinated work in the Thrift Shop. In 1997 she moved to Fox Run Retirement Center in Arlington and joined Trinity Methodist Church.

She was surrounded by her large, loving family in the weeks proceeding her death. She is survived by her son Ted Winberg of Arlington, Melba Winberg Owen of Midland, Jean Winberg Schumann of San Antonio and Walker Winberg of Beaumont. Grandchildren include Will and Dana Winberg, Wynn & Becky Winberg, Bonnie Winberg and Pete Condon, Patti Beth Winberg and Roger Bentley, Karin Owens and David Denton, Leah Owens and Travis N. Winberg. Her surviving sisters are Mary Lou Block Tullos of Houston and Katie Block Goolsbee of Port Neches, Alta Gray Block Fletcher of Nederland, and two brothers, Otis Block of Buna, Texas and Yuma, Arizona, W. T. Block of Nederland, and many great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Her funeral services will be conducted on Tuesday, January 19, 1999 at 2:00 PM in Arlington, with interment in Jefferson County on Wednesday at 2:00 PM at Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches.

Beaumont Enterprise, Tuesday, January 19, 1999.

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