Verna Mae Raney Caldwell went to be with the Lord Saturday morning, January 2, 2021. Her life covered 98 remarkable years. Verna Mae was born July 17, 1922, on a farm between Texola, Texas and Erick, Oklahoma. She was born to Vernie Camelia and Karl Grady Raney and was preceded in death by her five siblings and by her beloved husband of 67 years, James Henry Caldwell. Verna Mae is survived by her two daughters, Sandi Sivage and husband Vernon of Pleasanton, and Lana Stahl and husband John of Katy; five grandchildren, Amy Klein and husband Brad of Pleasanton; James Stahl and wife Kimberly of Rockwall; Keri Bird and husband Brant of Pleasanton; John David Stahl and wife Marisa of Houston; and Jeremy Stahl and wife Nikki of Katy. She also has 11 beautiful great-grandchildren, Madelyn and Toby Bird; Lindsay, Timothy and Micah Klein; Jack, Kate, Ava, Sam, London and Presley Stahl.
Serving in the church was very important part of Verna Mae’s life. In fact, she tells the story of being accidentally shot in the stomach at the age of 9, while on her way to church. The doctor said that if she had been going to the movies instead of church it would have probably killed her. She said it was the Lord’s will for her to survive to live another almost 90 years and she served God faithfully all those years.
At the age of five, Verna Mae moved to Amarillo. She graduated from Amarillo High School while also working part-time at Amarillo Hardware Wholesale as a file clerk. She met her husband and soulmate, Jim, while she was at a Sunday School party at his sister’s house when she was 15. The next spring, he asked her to skip church to go get a coke in Canyon and she got permission to do so. They were married in 1941 when Jim was serving in the Army Air Corps in Denver. They tell the story that his furlough was canceled because the squadron was moving to Wichita Falls so Jim asked for a pass to go into Colorado Springs, going instead to Amarillo for his wedding. He was restricted to the base for a week after he returned.
While Jim was serving overseas, Verna Mae was recruited to go to Washington DC to serve as a teletype operator in the Pentagon. Once Jim returned, they eventually moved to Midland in 1951 where they were charter members of Crestview Baptist Church. They were active members there for over 50 years. Verna Mae served at Crestview as a part-time financial secretary before moving to a full-time position at Otis Elevator Company and finally, to Texaco Oil Company. Keeping with her heart for service, once she retired, Verna Mae volunteered as a Pink Lady at Midland Memorial Hospital, as a Library Assistant at a junior high school in Midland and at the Confederate Air Force Museum. Along with their church activities, both Verna and Jim loved to bowl, play bridge, play golf and travel. They especially loved to go on cruises with their siblings and to east Africa to visit their daughter, Sandi and her family who were missionaries to Rwanda and Uganda.
Verna Mae spent her last years in Houston and eventually, Pleasanton, to be nearer to her daughters. She loved her family and her church. She loved to play games and travel. She loved Christmas, she loved pizza and she loved her Dallas Cowboys.
Honorary pallbearers were grandsons, James, John David and Jeremy Stahl and grandsons in-law, Brant Bird and Brad Klein, along with greatgrandsons, Toby Bird, Timothy and Micah Klein and Jack and Sam Stahl. Burial was at Serenity Memorial Gardens, 6800 S. TX 349 in Midland on Monday, January 11.
Memorial contributions may be made to International Mission Board, SBC, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, Virginia 23230, designated for Uganda Baptist Seminary.