School 07

Sybil "Big Mama" (Portie) LaPray

March 18, 1944 ~ December 11, 2020 (age 76)

Obituary

The Visitation Services for Mrs. LaPray have been cancelled at the family's request due to unforeseeable circumstances. At this time, funeral services will be Thursday, December 17th at 10:00 A.M. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 6198 FM 105 Vidor, TX 77662. Please check back for any further updates on services.

 

Sybil Portie LaPray lovingly called “Big Mama”, died on December 11, 2020 after a long struggle with Dementia. Sybil was born at Saint Therese Hospital in Beaumont, Texas, the youngest child of Delmer and Arlen Portie. She grew up in the Williamson Settlement north of Vidor, Texas.  She attended elementary school at Pine Forest Elementary, where her mom was also the Principal.  All her children and most of her grandchildren later attended Pine Forest Elementary School. She was an anchor of a multi-generational Williamson Settlement Family, beginning with her great grandfather William Williamson who originally settled the area in 1895.

Sybil attended Vidor Schools. Although she did not distinguish herself academically, she was very social. Her senior bio: “A girl with a smile, personality and a regiment of friends.” She was an officer for the Pirate Treasure, Future Farmers of America, and the Skull and Crossbones Club. She played Varsity Basketball, on defense.  She was not allowed to cross midcourt, as girls were not thought to be physically able to run the full court in her day. She was a cheerleader throughout high school.  She was named Homecoming Senior Princess and voted Miss Merry Christmas at the Jingle Bell Ball.

After graduating from Vidor High School in 1962, she graduated with a teaching degree in 1967 from Brigham Young University.  While in Provo, she reacquainted with a dashing Californian Mormon Missionary, who she noticed playing outfield at a 1962 4th of July celebration in Williamson. She was smitten by his ability to field fly balls behind his back during the games. Delmer, her father and Hal’s teammate said, “You don’t play for the Barnum Bailey Circus Team. Just catch the ball.” 

In 1965 Sybil and Hal were married in the Oakland, California LDS Temple. They moved to Bakersfield, California, where they both taught school. In 1969, they moved back to the Williamson Settlement, where they made their forever home.

Sybil started The Little School in the early 1970s. She taught many preschoolers in her garage classroom before Cherie Portie took over the school and moved it next door. In 1978 Sybil started teaching at Pine Forest Elementary where she taught 1st and 2nd grade. In 1989 she was the PE Coach at Oak Forest Elementary retiring in 2005. 

In 2007 along with her husband, she accepted a call to serve an eighteen-month mission in South Africa, predominantly among the Xhoswa people. She quickly developed a love for the people and returned for another eighteen-month mission in 2010. She not only served the people of South Africa while she was on her mission, but she continued to keep contact with and support the Xhoswa people as long as she physically could.

Sybil is survived by her husband Hal LaPray and her six children; Hal LaPray, of Vidor, Texas, Heath LaPray, of Houston, Texas, Chad LaPray, of Vidor, Texas, Matthew and Deedra LaPray, of Vidor, Texas, Peter and Kelly LaPray, of Vidor, Texas, and Connie Beth Hart, of Lumberton, Texas. She is survived by her siblings, Dale and Cherie Portie, of Vidor, Texas, and Ginger and Bill Fawcett, of Vidor, Texas. She is also survived by 16 grandchildren, and 24 nieces and nephews. Along with her family, she is survived by hundreds of those who loved her in South Africa. 

She is predeceased by her parents, Delmer and Arlen Portie, and her grandson, Luke Chandler LaPray. 

The Visitation Services for Mrs. LaPray have been cancelled at the family's request due to unforeseeable circumstances. At this time, funeral services will be Thursday, December 17th at 10:00 A.M. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 6198 FM 105 Vidor, TX 77662. Please check back for any further updates on services.

The funeral will be live streamed on Facebook at this LINK . If you need to manually paste the link into your browser please use this URL - https://www.facebook.com/robert.prak.9

In consideration of the health and safety of the family, all social distancing practices and facial covering recommendations will be observed and enforced for all services.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the United Christian Care Center in Vidor Texas, where Sybil and Hal volunteered often.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Sybil "Big Mama" (Portie) LaPray, please visit our floral store.


Services

Funeral Service
Thursday
December 17, 2020

10:00 AM
The Church of Latter Day Saints
6198 North FM 105
Vidor, TX 77662

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