Missionary Lola Frances (Butler) Vinson was born July 19, 1931, to Willie Grant and Estelle Colethia Butler in Longview, Texas. Her family relocated to Lamesa, Texas, where Lola graduated from Blackshear High School in 1948. Lola married her prince charming, Emanuel Vinson, on November 12, 1949. After enduring the heartbreaking loss of their stillborn son, Emanuel Jr., the couple raised five children and enjoyed 50 joyful years of holy matrimony until Emanuel preceded her in death on July 31, 2000.
Lola was known and revered a God-fearing woman with a servant's heart. Her spirit-filled prayers and praise seemed to bring heaven right down to earth. She would often say, "I'm trying to make a hundred because 99 won't do," and that is truly how she lived. Lola gave her life to God at the age of 14 and lived proudly and faithfully for the Lord for the rest of her 89 years.
In 1988, Lola became a licensed evangelist with the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and was soon thereafter appointed President of the Evangelistic Missionary Board in her region. She was an active participant in the COGIC Auxiliaries in Ministry (AIM) and COGIC National Women's Convention. As a dedicated member of Powerhouse Church of God in Christ in Riverside, CA, under the pastorage of Elder K.C. McDowell, Lola served in many leadership capacities in the church's Women's Ministry. In addition to leading Sunday School and Bible Band for many years, Lola spearheaded key public initiatives including a feeding program for underserved community members and a successful bible study and ministry for incarcerated people at the Riverside County Jail.
Firm and full of love, Lola was deeply devoted mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. When you saw her at a recital or program for one of her bunch, she was sure to be clapping, cheering, and beaming with pride. This was especially true for sporting events, as she could spot pass interference or a charge like a professional referee and eagerly offered her colorful commentary from the stands. "If you're going to let them travel, pack them a bag next time!" and, "you must need to borrow my glasses because surely you can't see straight!" were crowd favorites!
One of the few non-gospel songs Lola knew was Lean on Me, and she could break out singing at any time. "Lean on me, when you're not strong and I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on." Her servant's heart, nurturing spirit, and willingness to share reached far beyond her immediate family. She welcomed visitors with open arms and there was always extra food and room for guests. If you knew Lola for any extended amount of time, you probably called Momma or Grandma because she was such a figure to all who embraced her.
Above all else, Lola in standing firmly on your faith, your principles, and your word, teaching everyone around her to, "say what you mean and mean what you say." As a champion of justice, Lola had no qualms about speaking up for what is right, even and especially in the face of opposition or controversy. She was known to draft passionate letters and petitions to advance fairness and equality in her workplace and church, and her unwavering integrity garnered trust and respect from everyone who was blessed to know her.
Led by the scripture Colossians 3:23, "Whatsoever you do, do it heartily unto the Lord," Lola strived for excellence in all her pursuits. She'd say, "no matter what you do, do a good job until you can move up and do something else. You don't have to finish the way you started." No matter what rank or role, Lola worked hard and took pride in every job she hld. Her first paid job was a cook at Lidell's Restaurant in Lamesa, Texas. After moving to California with her husband and children in 1966, Lola worked at a grocery store a convalescent hospital, and a maintenance company before beginning her tenure at Riverside General Hospital (RGH) in 1975. Lola received numerous accolades and letters of appreciation from peer and supervisors throughout her career, including special recognition for her perfect attendance record for 11 years straight. She proudly worked in the Environmental Services Department at RGH until her retirement as Supervisor in 1993.
Instilling in her family value and importance of learning and educational excellence, Lola worked hard to remove any barrier to higher education for her children and grandchildren. “Fool’s mountain is full enough, there’s no more room for you!” She would say with a stern smile. She did not care what you studied as long as you studied something and got your “piece of paper.” Leading by example as she always did, Lola earned a certificate in Administrative Housekeeping and Institutional Management from Chaffey Community College in 1981, in addition to various work-related continuing education certificates. She made sure to keep up with current and world events by reading her daily newspaper and watching the nightly news, both of which she would enthusiastically share and discuss.
Outside of family, church, work, Lola found great joy intending to her home and garden. She kept the Vinson household in immaculate condition, with each bright, cozy, and inviting room meticulously decorated according to the season or holiday. On a sunny Southern California day, you could often find her in the yard pruning her prized rose bushes which were the envy of the neighbors. She also enjoyed being physically active outdoors, often going on early morning walks through her neighborhood or hiking up nearby Mount Rubidoux. She also looked forward to participating in the annual Revlon Run-Walk for Women, which she did for many years, earning a completion medal each time.
Her daughters and granddaughters got it honest because Lola certainly loved to shop, spending many a weekend morning “going looking” for the best deal on the perfect set of towels to complete her most recent bathroom display, or for a stylish new dress, hat, or pair of shoes to polish off her look for an upcoming event because, rest assured, when Lola stepped out she was dressed and accessorized to the nines! But her perfectly curated ensembles always took second stage to her megawatt smile and hearty, infectious laugh.
Lola’s zest for life was further evidenced by her love of travel. Whether it was a cross-country road trip or an international vacation, she was always up for a getaway! Even as her body began to have trouble keeping pace with her iron will, Lola was not one to be left behind. She visited many places across the nation, including Chicago, Hawaii, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., as well as many European destinations, including Amsterdam, Germany, Greece, Italy, London, Paris, and Switzerland, amassing beautiful collections of bells and spoons to document her excursions.
Lola took her final trip on August 26, 2020, ascending to glory peacefully in her home, surrounded by loved ones. She was undoubtedly welcomed by her parents, some of her siblings, and her eldest son, Darrell Vinson, who preceded her in death. Lola is lovingly remembered by her children: Zelda “Piney” Vinson (Gloria), Gwendolyn “Margie” Vinson, Brenda Kay Bufford (James), Kenneth Vinson, and Mary Lou Rector, 15 grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, sisters Johnnie Mae Williams and Deloris Thirkill, a host of nieces and nephews, and innumerable friends who love and will miss her tremendously.
Lola will be laid to rest at Memory Gardens, 14200 Interstate 27, Amarillo, TX 79119.
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