Looney leaves a legacy that bloomed with love, patriotism and faith

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By Heather Russell Wilson
Staff Reporter

The cities of New Boston and DeKalb, and the community of Malta are mourning the loss of a civic leader, philanthropist, and a beautiful woman, inside and out, with the recent passing of Wanda Culpepper Looney.
Wanda was born on December 9, 1941 in Malta, Texas, to J.D. and Lyde Culpepper.  
One of four children, Wanda came from modest beginnings, and learned the meaning of hard work at an early age.  She attended school first at Malta, then at DeKalb, where she graduated high school.  Wanda remained fiercely loyal to her DeKalb Bears her entire life, always sitting on the DeKalb side at football games against New Boston.  She was fond of saying, “I may be a Lion now, but I was a Bear first!”  
Wanda spent most of her adult life working in the insurance business.  She was the secretary and office manager of Looney Insurance agency for thirty-three years.  Wanda’s sister-in-law, Jetty Duffer recalls people saying of Wanda, “She’s forgotten more about insurance than most people will ever know!”
Wanda was also a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  Together, she and her husband Ronnie have five children, fifteen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  
Wanda loved the Lord, loved to read and study her Bible, and was very active in her church, First Baptist Church, New Boston.  She was a member and former teacher of the Dorcas Sunday School Class, and served on numerous church committees.  She also served her communities in various capacities as a charter member of the Gardenia Club of DeKalb, former President and member of the United Fund of New Boston, a board member of the New Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Commissioners for Bowie County Housing Authority, former DeKalb City Council Member, and served for eighteen years as a volunteer on the Auxiliary Board at St. Michael’s Hospital.  She was also a member of the Red Hat Society, and was, in fact, a collector of hats.  Each of her girls selected a hat from her collection to wear in her honor to her funeral.
Travel was also a great love of Wanda’s.  She traveled abroad many times, bringing back trinkets and mementos of her trips that she displayed in her home.  She made trips to Italy, London, Ireland, and perhaps her favorite, Australia.  She also loved to travel to Branson, Missouri with her church group.
Wanda’s pride and joy was her magnificent gardens.  Her yard looks like something straight from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, with immaculate shrubbery and bursting with colorful flowers.  One of her daughters recalls when visiting her mother, the first thing they always did was to go for a stroll through the back yard to see what new flowers were blooming, before going in the house.  Wanda loved the beauty of flowers - in fact, she loved any and all things beautiful - something that was evident in her yard, inside her home, her style of dress, and her life in general.  
And though she was fiercely devoted to the many things that made up her life - her family, her church, her community - perhaps the one thing that stands out the most when discussing Wanda with family and friends alike, was her staunch patriotism.  Wanda was a proud American who taught her children and grandchildren to love their country also.   She proudly flew her American flag on all patriotic holidays and never missed an opportunity to sincerely and whole-heartedly thank a veteran for his service to our country.  She was instrumental in helping organizers fund and eventually build the New Boston Veteran’s Wall in Trailhead Park, and was never more proud when all their hard work came to fruition.  
Mayor Johnny Branson says the city of New Boston has suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Wanda Looney.  “Wanda was a great American who loved her church and loved her country,” Branson said.  “She was active in the community for many years and will be sorely missed.  I am proud to say that Wanda was my friend.”
Many, many people can say they are proud to have called Wanda a friend.  She was a friend to all who met her and a champion for the underdog.  She saw no differences in social status or economic standing - she greeted everyone with the same warm smile and kind word.  And though her legacy lives on, the community will indeed sorely miss this one-of-a kind lady whose faith, heart for service, and unending generosity, touched the lives of so many.

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