Remembering Babbette Samuels
By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
Yes We Can
The first time I ever met Babbette Samuels was at the Cavalry Catholic Cemetery. This was before I had moved back into town and was doing some research for a history piece. I was looking for the grave of “The Rope Walker.” It had been a few years, and I had forgotten where it was. Miss Samuels, who was also in the cemetery, noticed my uncertainty, showed me where the grave was, and proceeded to tell me the walker’s backstory, which featured a few things I hadn’t known.
It would be a few years before I moved to Corsicana once more, but I remembered the encounter.
Initially, I had a few other topics I had wanted to cover this weekend, but none of them felt right in comparison to acknowledging the 94-year life of Miss Samuels. I didn’t know her as well as others, but I absolutely knew of her.
I was present when she received her certificate of recognition in October of 2019 for her numerous volunteer services, including her work on the library board and Parks & Recreation advisory board. Before the pandemic, she was also a regular face at every city council meeting because she wanted to be aware of what was happening in her city.
“I love my city,” Miss Samuels said, the day she received her certificate. And she meant it. She was always positive, though she had wished more people would take an active interest in where they lived.
I missed seeing her at the following council meetings when the doors again opened to the public.
Miss Samuels was active in school and civic duties, and the art community. She was an important and valued voice for Corsicana’s Jewish and downtown communities. I covered her contributions to 100W’s milkweed exhibit in 2020.
The stories of her personal impact on Corsicana are numerous and far reaching. As less of a news piece and more of a personal piece, I don’t know if I could do her countless contributions justice on a lone Sunday morning.
I’ve occasionally written a piece like this since the Gazette’s inception. Writing something formal when losing someone like this has always felt wrong to me. Because a person’s life is more than a recitation of facts and accomplishments. It’s how you look back and remember the person. How they made you feel. What they did to improve the lives of others. And in moving forward, what their legacy means to people.
Miss Samuels was truly one of a kind for Corsicana. A whole town will miss what she contributed to make where we live a better place. More importantly, a whole town will miss her.
My own interactions with Miss Samuels were, however memorable, far too brief. If anyone wished to share stories, they are welcome to do so in Facebook comments, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org – If there are enough stories, the Gazette will run an article of those collected stories.
As noted in her obituary: “In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Corsicana Hebrew Cemetery Association c/o Community National Bank & Trust or to the preservation of Temple Beth El, under the supervision of the City of Corsicana.”
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