Dear Marguerite Lockwood. A dozen or more sweet memories danced in my mind when I got the message she had left us last Sunday. Marguerite was a wonderful lady, one of those treasures I count in my fond memories of Brownwood.

My first thoughts, of course, were of when – and how – we met. In the spring of 2002, my sons and I were in the process of moving to Brownwood. I had started my job at the Bulletin, and on our first Sunday in town, we attended services at First United Methodist Church.

Well of course, that was about 42 or 43 years into Harold and Marguerite Lockwoods’ 50 years of faithful service as the church’s front door greeters – and we were welcomed with open arms and genuine graciousness, the likes of which are unequalled any other place I have been.

Marguerite realized when we stepped in the door that I was the “new lady” at the paper and announced how glad she was to meet us. That prompted Harold to say that he had read in the announcement of my arrival in the paper I was kin to the Chambers family of May.

O.B. and Aleta Mae Chambers, my great uncle and aunt, had been long-time members of the church, and that gave us sound qualifications without any other investigation. We would be introduced to those old enough to know as the Chambers’ relatives. To those too young to remember, we were who we were. My church-youth-age sons were considered a major asset.

But if graciousness was the foundation of what made Marguerite special to me the first time we met, it was a foundation that had much to support.

I loved Marguerite’s ready laugh, her very quick wit, her calm-above the-storm demeanor. Her attentiveness and counsel.

I adored her for the fact that whenever, or wherever we met, she had something so very nice to say to me and it always seemed completely genuine. Most often it was about a column I’d written, or a story in the Bulletin. And maybe she didn’t like everything, or didn’t agree with some things, but she didn’t bring those up.

I very much admired Marguerite for her style – not just for her always put-together and perfectly accessorized style of dress, but also her fine manners and diplomacy. If – and I only knew this to happen on a few rare occasions – a situation wasn’t right, Marguerite could and would address with polite authority. Or dry humor, if that worked better.

See, we had this long-running joke. One Sunday, between Sunday school and church, I was leaving out the back door and visited with Marguerite on my way out. But I was only going out to get something from my car, and in just a minute, I came back in through the front door by the sanctuary.

Marguerite asked me, “Didn’t I see you just leave?”

“Yes,” I said, “but I’m coming back in so I can hug your husband.”

She rolled her eyes, but every Sunday after we’d have some little exchange about me wanting to hug Harold. Then I joined Kiwanis Club, where Harold was a long-standing member, and I made a point to tell Marguerite I now had the chance for twice-a-week hugs.

“You hussy,” she said, her eyes twinkling at the fun of it all.

“Next thing I know, you’ll be playing golf on Wednesday, hugging him three times a week.”

Marguerite and Harold were a team, a blessing to their community, and their church for almost 70 years. Their devotion to one another was inspiring. Much of what they did for our benefit was done quietly and without fanfare. Often their generous financial support was anonymous, but their presence at events and programs was a worthy endorsement, and added to the occasion.

We who sang in the choir at FUMC under the direction of Mary Elizabeth Taylor knew very well that Marguerite’s favorite hymn was “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” The hymn had always been a favorite of mine, too, but I loved it even more knowing I had that in common with Marguerite.

Now I can’t hear or sing the hymn without associating it with such a truly special person, and that is my blessing and encouraging affirmation.

Oh Marguerite, you will be missed, but happily and lovingly remembered. You have earned your portion. Rest in peace.

And as I’m finishing this, I am humming that sweet refrain.

“For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, living now in San Angelo. She can be reached at ccfulton2002@yahoo.com.