Charlene Matthews Leonard

March 3, 1933 - November 23, 2021

Charlene Matthews Leonard passed away on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, after a brief illness. She was born March 3, 1933, in Mexia, Texas, to her Parents Z.S. and Jewel Matthews.

Charlene and her family moved to Beaumont in the early 1940s, where she attended Dick Dowling Elementary and graduated from Beaumont High School in 1951. It was during these formative years growing up in Beaumont that Charlene encountered and befriended Mrs. Eloise Milam, founder of the Melody Maids, a group of young women who entertained and sang all over the U.S. and Europe. Charlene regarded Eloise as a second mother and the pair fostered a close relationship until Eloise’s death in 2008.

After high school, Charlene entered Lamar Jr. College. It was there she met the love of her life – William S. “Bud” Leonard. It was truly a blessed marriage of almost 67 years, until Bud’s death in 2020. During their marriage, the couple was blessed with two children. The eldest, daughter Joni Marie, was born March 14, 1956, in San Diego, CA, the couple living on the West Coast while Bud was stationed there in the Navy. Joni was born with severe mental and physical disabilities, but that didn’t prevent her from living a full life at home with her parents for the last 65 years, a real tribute to the couple’s unconditional love and commitment to their family. Equally the apple of the couple’s eyes, son Will was born in Beaumont in 1958.

Throughout the years, Charlene fostered a life-long love of music and could be heard faithfully sharing her gift of song with the church choir at Calder Baptist Church for 65-plus years. She also participated in the Interfaith Choral Society, Beaumont Junior League Follies, and Lullaby of Broadway to support the music program at Lamar University. And, with a song in her heart, Charlene always stayed busy – active in Land Manor, serving on various committees for the church she dearly loved, and maintaining the Melody Maid Room at the Julie Rogers Theatre. She also routinely attended various Lamar University functions while Bud was Vice Chancellor for Development and enjoyed cheering on the Cardinals alongside her husband.

Charlene genuinely loved and cared for people, and valued making new friends to add to the many cherished old friends she was devoted to her whole life.

One cannot say enough of the devotion and unselfish love Charlene gave her special daughter, Joni. She never relented in her resolve to care for Joni as long as she could and never complained or regretted one moment of that decision. Charlene was strong in her faith and her love for her husband and family. Until Bud passed in 2020, the couple was an inseparable pair who defined true love. She was most happy being a homemaker, with a house full of the sound of music and singing. He was happy when she was happy.

Charlene is survived by daughter, Joni; son, Will and wife, Michelle, of Beaumont; as well as twin granddaughters, Anne Kellam Leonard of Los Angeles, CA and Claire Matthews Leonard of Birmingham, AL. Special thanks are offered to Drs. Wilcox, Lombardo and Lavalais, as well as the caregivers at Montebello Home Health, Pelican Bay, Summer Place and Harbor Hospice.

A memorial service for Mrs. Leonard will be at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, November 27, 2021, at Calder Baptist Church, 1005 North 11th Street, Beaumont, with Dr. Jim Fuller presiding. Her cremation arrangements will be handled through Broussard’s Crematorium under the direction of Broussard’s, 1605 North Major Drive, Beaumont.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to Calder Baptist Church, 1005 North 11th Street, Beaumont, Texas 77702.

Please observe social distancing guidelines. By attending any public event, you are acknowledging the risk of exposure to the Coronavirus. Please follow the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control:

Download Program

Memorial Service

Calder Baptist Church
  • 1005, N 11th St, Beaumont, TX, 77702,
  • November 27, 2021
  • 11:00 am

Broussard’s Crematorium
  • 5150, Stivers Dr, Beaumont, TX, 77705,

Comments (18)

    Nancy Brookins Besson says:

    Dearest Will, your mother and dad were such wonderful people and were always thinking of others. I was the flower girl at age 3 in their wedding. My parents knew your grandmother “Aunt Jewel”. Your mom and dad had such an endearing love. If we all were like them the world would be a much better place. They left a lasting impression on me and I’m better for it. My heart goes out to you and your family. That will not be forgotten.

    Susan Williams says:

    Dear Will,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your loving mom. She was so kind to me when I visited your home and boy, she could sure make a home! She had fabulous taste! She sure put her all into her family, and it shows.

    Take care, my friend,


    Marilyn Stockert says:

    Will, you had an amazing mother, and girls, I was not a close friend of your grandmothe but when I visited with her (usually in the grocery store) she always had a smile and a picture or story of you two. In God’s Love, Suzy Hall Stockert

    Joylynne Smith Baker says:

    Will, Anne, and Claire,
    Charlene was one of my first friends in Beaumont. We spent many happy hours together in choir, Lyrics, and church activities. She was an inspiration and will be missed. Sending you my love and prayers.
    Joylynne Smith Baker

    Mark Callender says:

    Will, Jane and I were sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. May God shine his light upon you and your family and give you peace. May God bless her soul.

    Megan Copeland says:

    Dear Will,
    I am so sorry for this hard loss. Your precious mother sang right next to me in Calder’s wonderful choir, and I loved sharing our memories of my parents with her…they thought the world of Bud and Charlene and had such fun together at many Lamar functions. I’m so blessed to have enjoyed her friendship and our times together in church. I know God will comfort you with countless happy memories of her held by so many friends. God keep you all, Megan Copeland

    colleen burns says:

    Dear Will, I am so sorry for your loss. I have known and worked with your Mom on many projects through the years. She was a lovely lady and will be missed by many. Sending love and prayers to all of the family!

    Barbara & Tom Leicht Leicht says:

    Will, we are so sorry to hear aout Carlene. We have been friends since Your parents moved into town. May Her Soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, REST_IN_PEACE.

    Sherry & Mark Hebert says:

    We’re sending our heartfelt sympathy and prayers to you, Will, and your family with the passing of your most caring mom. I hope knowing that she’s with your dad in the arms of our Lord is a comfort to you and yours.

    Sherry & Mark Hebert says:

    Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to you, Will, and your family. I hope that your warm memories of your mom and knowing that she is with your dad and our Lord will console you as much as the love of friends and family.

    Chuck & Ethel Prater says:

    Will & Family
    Our sincere sympathy in the loss of your Mom.
    You have been so attentive to your family and
    Their needs. Your Dad and Mom always greeted us
    With a friendly smile each time we saw them with you
    Enjoying Sunday lunch after church.
    May God grant you comfort as you grieve her loss yet remember a life well lived.

    Rebecca Woodland says:

    Our deepest sympathy is sent to Will and his family. Charlene contributed so much to the Beaumont and Lamar communities; particularly in music and the arts. She was a lovely lady with a charming and outgoing personality. Our prayers are with you.
    from the Woodland Family:
    Mary, Rebecca, Philip and Cindy

    Don & Syble Jeffcoat says:

    Syble and I are so very sorry for your loss. May your mother rest in peace. Sending prayers to you and your family.

    Michele Allen says:

    I am so sorry for your loss-
    She was such an amazing woman!
    You are in my thoughts and prayers-

    Marvie says:

    Marvie Jackson and family sending our prayers and love at your time of loss .Charlene will be missed may she rest in peace.

    Glenda Woolwine says:

    I didn’t know this amazing woman but I often heard about her from my precious friend, Dera Gee. How happy heaven must be now as they are reunited.

    Clyde and Joanne Perkins says:

    A beautiful sweet friend. She will be missed by many. Prayers for the family .

    Paula Bothe says:

    Will – I am sorry for your loss. As you know, Charlene and I were friends for many years. She was a sweet lady and a faithful member of Calder. She had a wonderfully engaging smile and I always enjoyed seeing her in the choir. Her memory will be a blessing to all who knew her.

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