Sammy Lou StinnettJuly 5, 1929 ~ November 30, 2017 (age 88)
Sammy Lou Stinnett left us Thursday afternoon, Nov. 30.
She suffered a heart attack Sunday morning. Treated first at the hospital in Liberty and then taken by LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann, she had an emergency angioplasty and improved briefly, but then complications followed, and the doctors determined she was too frail to survive the additional surgeries that might otherwise have saved her. Sammy’s life was long, and her suffering at the end was short. She was 88. Sammy Lou was born July 5, 1929 to Sam and Lula May Lynch of Liberty and lived nearly her whole life here, or else just outside of town.
Born with a rare blood disorder, Sammy was unable to run and play as a normal child might until her purpura was cured at 5 years old, after which she quickly developed into a very rambunctious tomboy, determined, she said, to make up for lost time. She went to school in Liberty, played every sport girls were allowed to play and thought it terribly unfair she could not play football, too. Her mother tried to keep her in dresses, but Sammy preferred blue jeans. After seeing “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Sammy wanted her hair cut short like Ingrid Bergman’s, but the local beautician refused to do it until Sammy’s mother confirmed she had given her permission.
She was a popular student and a cheerleader, described in her class yearbook as “happy as the day is long.” Sammy Lou attended Sam Houston State Teachers College for a year and played on the college softball team. She married Barnell Stinnett on Dec. 3, 1949 in a house in Liberty, only a few hundred feet from the place she last called home. The Vindicator office is now where Hutchinson’s feed store once stood, and it was in Hutchinson’s that Barnell first asked Sammy Lou for a date. From there they walked over to McGinty’s drug store for a soda.
Together Sammy and Barnell shared 60 years of love and misunderstanding before Barnell passed away early in 2010. Sometime early in their marriage she threw away an old, torn and frayed scarf he owned, and to the last year of his life, they were still arguing over it. They argued over that and over the first house he built for them — a house he painted all gray, inside and out. They argued over her cooking and his manners, over whether he really lost his wedding ring as he claimed, and over his once taking her to the hospital in labor with child and then leaving her there to go to a football game. Those arguments and others like them went on, but over the years they lost the seriousness they might once have had. Sammy and Barnell were committed to one another. They stuck together through all their hardships, and to the end of his life they still made each other laugh. They kept themselves and each other busy with work and nonsense, and they made a life together even when they had little going for them but each other and the will to carry on. They brought up five children and moved around a good bit, but never very far. An exact count of the number of houses they lived in now eludes us. They built many of those houses themselves, with Sammy swinging a hammer right alongside Barnell, and when she wanted to remodel, Sammy thought nothing of tearing out partitions and replacing them herself.
Later in life, Sammy found a number of unique ways to minister to others. In her 60s, she visited nursing homes regularly, and upon learning the elderly often do not get enough potassium in their diets, she made a habit of bringing bunches of bananas with her to hand out to the residents. Before long she became known to them as the “banana lady.” For several years she also made a ministry out of a quilting club. She was a longtime member of North Main Baptist Church, moving there from Hardin Baptist Church, and from Heights Baptist Church before that. Sammy enjoyed crafts and loved to work in her flower beds. In reference to her many different homes mentioned above, Sammy joked that her flowers got to travel a lot more than most plants do. As a young woman she had wanted to have a large family. She said all she ever wanted to be was a good mother, and she was.
Sammy Lou is preceded in death by her husband; her parents; one older and one younger brother, both of whom died in infancy; and one grandchild, Charles Harrod.
She is survived by her children and their spouses — Judy and husband Roy Deane Webb, Stephen Stinnett and wife Sheri, Kay Stinnett and husband Mark Veach, Dana and husband Brandt Martin, and Casey Stinnett.
Her surviving grandchildren are Deane Webb, Erin Kontura, Cory Stinnett, Logan Stinnett, Traci West, Samantha Harrod, and Jenniffer Harrod,
Her great-grandchildren are Sarah Webb, Ashlyn Webb, Kylie Turner, Kyler Kontura, Auden Kontura, Sarah Yarberry and Allison Yarberry.
She is also survived by her sister, Jo Ann Marks.