Bernita Burleson "Jimmie" Lambert passed away on January 31, 2014, at Jasper, Texas, at the age of 97. Born in Sulphur, Louisiana, on December 16, 1916, the seventh child of Charles Edward and Dollie Duhon Burleson, her siblings early on called her "Jimmie" and that's what her families and friends called her the rest of her long life. She and her husband, the late LeRoy Lambert, Jr., moved to Leesville, Louisiana, in 1940, where he began employment as an agent of the Magnolia Petroleum Company (later Mobil Oil Corporation) to distribute gasoline and other petroleum products in Vernon Parish. They soon purchased property at 900 West...
Bernita Burleson "Jimmie" Lambert passed away on January 31, 2014, at Jasper, Texas, at the age of 97. Born in Sulphur, Louisiana, on December 16, 1916, the seventh child of Charles Edward and Dollie Duhon Burleson, her siblings early on called her "Jimmie" and that's what her families and friends called her the rest of her long life.
She and her husband, the late LeRoy Lambert, Jr., moved to Leesville, Louisiana, in 1940, where he began employment as an agent of the Magnolia Petroleum Company (later Mobil Oil Corporation) to distribute gasoline and other petroleum products in Vernon Parish. They soon purchased property at 900 West Texas Street and built a house there, where she lived until 2012. Mr. Lambert served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945, in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Jimmie ran the business while he was in the Army.
The couple joined the First Baptist Church of Leesville where Mr. Lambert served as a deacon and Jimmie taught Sunday School to five year olds. In 1948, the couple adopted a daughter, Ann. In 1954, they adopted a son, LeRoy Lambert III. The business prospered. Mr. Lambert bought property and built service stations and commercial and rental properties. Additions were made to the house and all seemed well.
In early 1959, the government announced that it would close Fort Polk, the engine of the local economy. Mr. Lambert was 46. After dressing early one morning to sit at the funeral of a fellow church member, he suffered a massive heart attack and died at his home on February 12, 1959, at the age of 46, leaving Jimmie widowed with a daughter 10 and a son 4. In 1959, in rural Louisiana, it seemed to be a given that distributing petroleum products to service stations, contractors, and farmers was not a woman's job.
It was not a given, however, to Jimmie Lambert. She owned the service stations and had no intention of selling them; if Mobil did not make her the agent, she would take her properties to another oil company, and she made sure the men in the suits from Dallas knew that.
In those crucial weeks in 1959, she was aided by the president of the Merchants and Farmers Bank, R.D. Schaefer, who had seen Jimmie's skill when she ran the business during the war. He told the men from Dallas not to worry, that Jimmie was a better businessman than LeRoy was, anyway. The bank rescheduled the debt. Mobil checked her in.
Some months later, the government decided to keep Fort Polk open after all. The farmers and contractors in the parish remained loyal. Friends and family pitched in to help. Jimmie kept the business going, kept the employees, and paid off the debt early. In 1969, ten years after the death of her husband, she formed Lambert Oil Company, Inc., and became an independent distributor of petroleum products in the parish. Her children wanted for nothing.
The business prospered and was sold in 1984, when she was 68. Thanks to LeRoy's vision and Jimmie's hard work and thrift, she was set for a comfortable retirement. She travelled in the US and Europe and realized a life-long dream to visit the Holy Land with her dear friend, Sis Walters. She remained active in the First Baptist Church, teaching the five year olds until she was in her 70's, and giving generously. "You can't outgive God," she would always say.
She helped many people quietly in many ways. She would go out of her way to attend a funeral, no doubt recalling all the support she had received. And, she was always ready with a prayer. Even in the last two years, when she had such trouble communicating, she would rally and give a beautiful and thoughtful prayer.
She drove until she was 92 and handled her affairs until she was 94. She dressed every day, put her make-up on, and made her bed. When she was no longer able to do so herself, she insisted it be done anyway, and so it was.
The family thanks the many caregivers and sitters who provided Jimmie dignity and respect in her last years, including those at Lakes Area Hospice and Rayburn Health Care. Special thanks to Dorothy Talbert, Dee Watson, and Sierria Mays.
Visitations will be 1-3 pm, Sunday, Feb 2, at Hixson Funeral Home, 508 S. Fifth Street, Leesville, LA 71446, www.dignitymemorial.com/hixson-funeral-home-leesville
, 337-239-2653, and 1-2 pm on Monday, Feb 3, at the First Baptist Church of Leesville, 1400 West Texas Street (Nolan Trace), Leesville, LA 71446, The funeral service will be at 2 followed by burial at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Leesville.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the First Baptist Church of Leesville (address above) (please mark checks "Piano Fund") or Lakes Area Hospice, 254 Ethel Street, Jasper, TX 75951-0023.
She is predeceased by her parents, seven siblings and their spouses, her husband and his siblings and their spouses, many, many friends, and son-in-law, Ronald D. Gresham. She is survived by her daughter, Ann Lambert Gresham of Jasper, Texas, and son, LeRoy Lambert III, and his wife Sherri, of Maplewood, New Jersey; grandchildren R. Dean Gresham, Jr., of Dallas, Texas, Anna Gresham Hartung and husband Adam of Marble Falls, Texas, James Joseph Lambert of Durham, North Carolina, Hannah Duhon Lambert of New York, New York, and Grace Laura Lambert of Ann Arbor, Michigan; two great-grandchildren, Lane Gresham Hartung and Liam Ross Hartung of Marble Falls, Texas; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The outside world changed much during her long and fruitful life. Her values did not. No mother could have loved her children more. Her family and friends will remain ever grateful for her love, her example, and her life. Rest in peace, good and faithful servant, well done, well done.
Arrangements under the direction of Hixson Funeral Home, Leesville, LA.