Martha Jo "Mema" Boothe-Fonville
(1923 - 2009)

My grandmother's seven year battle with Alzheimer's came to an end on July 6, 2009. She was 85. My mother did a wonderful job caring for her mom during these past several years. Mema was a kind and gentle woman who could also be strong and resilient when the times required. She and my grandfather, Aubrey Odell Fonville ("Papa"), lived for many years at their lake house on Cedar Creek Lake southeast of Dallas. Papa built that house largely by himself back in the mid 1960s before the lake had even filled up. I have many fond memories of Mema & Papa and of my times spent at their lake house. I included a few, but certainly not all, of those memories in this short essay that I read at Mema's gravesite service. At the bottom of this page, I placed a few video clips of Mema taken several years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Amazingly, she was able to play the piano and the harmonica well after the disease had affected her cognitive abilities. She never took music lessons - she had played by ear since she was a child.

My sister and me with Mema in 1967. Mema was always an attractive lady - and looked much younger than her age.

That's "Papa" working on his dock. My Dad helped Papa build that dock back in the mid 1960s. The lake began filling more quickly than expected, so instead of building the dock on dry ground they had to contend with a couple of feet of water. It's interesting to note the scenic trees across the channel. Just a few years later, that entire area of the lake was littered with houses and docks - most of which were not kept up nearly as well as my grandparent's place.

--- Mema, Summer of 1972 ---

Mema and Papa had a lovely garden between the back of their house and the shore of the lake. Mema canned a lot of the vegetables grown in that garden. She was also a terrific fish fryer!

Mema & Papa, Christmas 1975. This picture was taken at their lake house. If you look through the windows you can just make out the greenhouse and storage building that Papa built. Many years after Papa died, I came upon the current owners of their lake house. The man said that a tornado had destroyed that shed and that there were so many nails holding it together it took several days to completely disassemble it. My dad has told me several times that Papa built things to last and that he did indeed use a lot of nails.

Mema holding her grandniece in the Fall of 1979

Mema was a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys. She was an even bigger fan of Roger Staubach. This picture was taken behind her & Papa's lake house in the Spring of 1980.

Mema would periodically fish for largemouth bass with me at their shoreline. As a small boy, I learned how to fish for bass by walking up and down that shoreline, usually throwing either a buzzbait or a Texas rigged worm. Mom would sometimes join me too. Eventually I started using Papa's small johnboat to fish out of. Papa & I also caught a lot of crappie standing on his dock using live minnows. (picture circa Spring 1980)

Dad and Mema at "Brushy Land" in January 1981.

A few months after Papa died in 1981, Mom & Dad bought Mema this riding lawnmower for use at the lake house.

Video Clips

"Whispering Hope" & "When The Saints Go Marching In"...July 2006
"The Battle Hymn Of The Republic"...July 2006
"The Tennessee Waltz"...July 2006
83rd Birthday at "Bubba Jean's" in Malakoff, TX...Sept. 2006

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