Oleta Loraine Conner, beloved wife, sister, mother, grandmother, was called home to her Lord Saturday, August 22, 2009 at the age of 81. Born March 12, 1928, to Roy and Sadie Ragsdale, she was the eldest of their four children. Her parents soon found her to be a great helper with the other children. Always the little lady, she was quick to assist with chores and was the best cow-milker of any of her siblings.
From a young age, Oleta began to learn to cook in her mother’s kitchen, a skill her family would continue to enjoy for many years. She graduated at the top of her class from San Saba High School in 1945 and went on to get her bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas with a degree in Business Administration.
On July 6, 1949, she married Ira J. Conner, also of San Saba High, to whom she would remain faithfully devoted until his death in July of 2008. With him she would raise two children, Donnie and Bonnie Conner. As her husband was a coach, Oleta took an active interest in all of the athletic activities in which he participated. Her grandchildren remember their frequent attendance of school events as well as the way she always kept up with what was going on in their lives. She remained an avid football fan until her death.
Donnie went on to continue his father’s legacy as a coach, and Bonnie continues her mother’s legacy today as an elementary teacher. Oleta began her teaching career in 1956, where her gentle spirit and loving heart touched thousands of children who found themselves in her classroom. Dedicated to her work, she spent countless hours preparing lessons, decorating, and making her classroom a fun and safe place for her students. Always striving to be the best for her students, she earned her Masters of Education from Texas A & M in 1971. She retired in 1992 after 35 years at Kendrick Elementary in Waco, TX.
Though her years as a formal educator had ended, Oleta continued her service to children for several more years as a Tuesday-Thursday preschool teacher at Robinson Church of Christ. When she was no longer able to serve as a teacher, she continued to work in the church nursery as she had for decades, always awaiting a fussy baby whom she could rock to sleep.
Well into her later years she was known at her congregation by every child as Mrs. Oleta, to whom they could always come for a piece of candy, and often two if they asked nicely. Through her last days she continued to keep a box of chocolates or a bowl of candy nearby for anyone she wished to bless. She continued to be the candy lady to her great-grandchildren up until her final days. Despite many physical challenges, Oleta’s gentle, peaceful, and joyful spirit never wavered, continuing to be a light to everyone in her life.
After relocating to Glen Rose to live with her daughter, Oleta continued to make new friends with everyone she met. She always sought the good in others, and through her love encouraged everyone to be their best. Her Christ-like spirit in the midst of challenges remains the legacy her family most wishes to carry on.
Oleta is survived by two children, Donnie Conner and Bonnie Spies; a son-in-law, Bob Spies; a daughter-in-law, Stephany Conner; her sister, Nettie Oma Carpenter; two brothers, Joe Ragsdale and Red Ragsdale; six grandchildren and four great-grandsons.
Funeral services were held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 26, 2009, at Wiley Funeral Home. Burial followed at Rock Creek Cemetery in Somervell County. Visitation was held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday at the funeral home.