Charlene Matthews Leonard
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.
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Calder Baptist Church
- 1005, N 11th St, Beaumont, TX, 77702,
- November 27, 2021
- 11:00 am
- 5150, Stivers Dr, Beaumont, TX, 77705,