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Welcome to the memorial page for

Bonnie Sue Hooper Free "Mom"

August 1, 1938 ~ May 20, 2017 (age 78)

          Funeral services for Bonnie Sue Hooper Free “Mom”, 78, of Lufkin, will be held Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the Greater Love Tabernacle Church in Homer with Pastor Ronnie Frankens officiating. Interment will follow at Old Sardis Cemetery in San Augustine County.

          She was born August 1, 1938 in San Augustine Co., Texas, the daughter of Charlie Green Hooper and Georgie Ethel Rollins Hooper, and died Saturday, May 20, 2017.

          Lufkin and Angelina County lost an Icon this past Saturday. Bonnie never thought of herself in this light. She merely felt that hard work and being productive were a way of life.  Born Bonnie Sue Hooper, she was the 4th child of an extremely hardworking East Texas family where work was paramount to survival. The list of chores and task were almost endless; she was a field hand picking cotton, peas and melons.  She was a water toter and a babysitter/surrogate mother before the age of 14. At the age of 15 she moved to Lufkin to live with her beloved Aunt Dot and Uncle Vircha.  Around the age of 16 she met the love of her life, JW Free, They were married in 1955, and started their own family here in Lufkin. While raising her own brood, JW and Bonnie opened their home to numerous siblings, helping raise JW’s younger sister Geneva, and provided a room to stay for several of Bonnie’s younger sisters during their college years.  In 1966 JW and Bonnie built the “House on the Hill” that would become the hub of the Free Family. Bonnie continued to work hard while raising their children eventually becoming the catalyst for the founding of Mom’s Diner in December of 1986 establishing her business on the principles of customer service in a way that encouraged friendships, lifetime bonds, and always believing and treating her employees as family. In her later years after losing JW in 2004 Bonnie “semi-retired” from the Diner, but still ruled where it counted. She enjoyed being at home and spending time with her Fur-babies, feeding the birds, and watching the deer come to visit. Bonnie’s later years were blessed with the companionship of the second love of her life, Larry Lawson, who she married in 2009. 

          In the past few days, the outpouring of love and stories about “MOM” have been overwhelming.  Her warm smile, memorable sense of humor, and love for life and family will be missed by all that knew her.  She was our Mom, but also Mom to so many others in the extended family and community. 

          She is survived by her husband, Larry Lawson of Lufkin; daughter and son-in-law, Lawinda and David Broaddus of Huntington; daughter, Kathey Gilcrease of Lufkin; son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Brenda Free of Lufkin; daughter and son-in-law, Terry and James Gardiner of Hudson; son and daughter-in-law, Charlie and Jennifer Free of Lufkin; daughter and son-in-law, Dana and James Dearing of Huntington; daughter, Lana Free of Lufkin; daughter, Tina Lawson of Dallas; grandchildren, Keith Shirley and wife, Melanie of Lufkin; Chad Shirley of Conroe; Brandon and Spring Shirley of Conroe; Jason Nash, and Justin Nash, both of Lufkin; Jessica Smith and husband, Cory of Hudson, Clay Gilcrease of Austin; DiAnna Shuffett and husband, Mike of Greensbury, KY; Angela Stone and husband, Tedd of Orange; Jonah Free and wife, Merideth White of VA; Kasee Free of Lufkin; Robert Gardiner and wife, Misty of Lufkin; Miranda Rudd and husband, Christopher of El Alto, Bolivia; Sara Gardiner and wife, Jean of San Antonio; Elie Free and Bryce Free of Lufkin; Tyler Dearing and wife, Katie of Lufkin; Taylor Dearing, Tristen Dearing, and Trinity Sue-Ella Dearing, all of Huntington; Layla Rae Mansfield, Jesse Mansfield, and Elijah JW Mark Mansfield, all of Lufkin; great grandchildren,  Ashton, Lincoln, Katelyn, Hailey, Brianna, Brooklyn, Buffy, Kaytlin, Dustin, Gabby, Maddie, Cason, Kinsley, Victoria, Ashley, Gabby, Payton, Joshua, Kennedy, Aden, Kaden, Malory, James, Victoria, and one on the way, Raylea Jo; great great grandchildren, McKindree and Bentley; sister, Maurene Hooper of Converse, LA; brother and sister-in-law, Hoyt and Jane Hooper of Houghton, LA; brother and sister-in-law, Durwood and Shirley Hooper of San Augustine; sister and brother-in-law, Charlene and Jackey Pigg of Lufkin; sister and brother-in-law, Georgie and Jimmy Marshburn of Pollok; sister and brother-in-law, Delorse and Dave Martinez of Diboll; sister and brother-in-law, Wanda and David Curbow of Lufkin; sister and brother-in-law, Zelma and James Litzmann of Huntsville; sister and brother-in-law, Geneva and Tony Matteo of Lufkin; brother-in-law, Rayburn J. Free of Lufkin; numerous nieces, nephews, and other relatives; along with many employees of Mom’s Diner who have become family through the years.

          Mrs. Free was preceeded in death by  her parents, Charlie and Ethel Hooper; husband of 49 years, JW Free; brothers, Tim Hooper and Doyle Hooper; grandson, Michael Nash; son-in-law, Ronnie Gilcrease; sisters-in-law, Martha Hooper and Evelyn Free.

          Pallbearers will be Jason Nash, Keith Shirley, Jonah Free, Robert Gardiner, Tyler Dearing, and Bryce Free.

          Honorary pallbearers will be Justin Nash, Chad Shirley, Branden Shirley, Elie Free, Tristen Dearing, Jessie Mansfield, Elijah Mansfield, Trinity Sue-Ella Dearing.

          Special memorials may be made to the Winnie Berry Humane Society, 1102 N. John Redditt Dr., Lufkin, Texas  75904.

Visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at Shafer Funeral Home in Lufkin.

          Shafer Funeral Home, directors.


 Service Information

May 24, 2017

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Shafer Funeral Home
600 N. John Redditt Dr.
Lufkin, TX 75904

Funeral Service
May 25, 2017

10:00 AM
Greater Love Tabernacle Church
5319 FM 326
Lufkin, TX 75901

Interment following funeral service
May 25, 2017

Old Sardis Cemetery
Travel 14 miles on FM711. Turn left on dirt road #37; go 5.6 miles, turn left on second crossroad. travel .3 mile.
San Augustine Co., TX 75972

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