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Saturday, May 20, 2023
Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)
Lee Paula Waggoner Stidham passed away May 14, 2023, peacefully at home surrounded by her family.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 A.M. Saturday, May 20, 2023, at Covenant Presbyterian Church with Rev. John T. Mabray officiating, under the direction of Mulhearn Funeral Home Sterlington Rd., Monroe, LA. A reception will follow the service at the church.
Paula was born May 13, 1940, in Jacksonville, Texas to Felton and Pauline Waggoner. She spent her early childhood in New London,Texas, then later moved to Pasadena. She graduated from Deer Park High School with honors in 1958. She was selected most popular, most beautiful, captain of her dance line, class favorite, class secretary, and Homecoming queen. After graduation, she attended the University of Texas where she pledged Delta Gamma sorority, eventually serving as President of her chapter. She graduated in 1962 cum laude with a double major in Latin and Spanish and a minor in English.
Paula came from a family of educators. Her mother was a reading and Spanish teacher and her father was a revered high school principal. Her father was the most influential person in her life. It was his motivation that instilled a love for the importance of public education and led her to pursue a career in teaching.
Paula’s first teaching job was in Dallas, Texas. It was there that she met and married the love of her life Philip Bruce Stidham. After marrying, the couple moved back to his hometown of Coffeeville, Mississippi, where she taught Latin at Grenada High School. After the birth of their first daughter, Lee Stacy, the couple moved to Monroe, Louisiana, in 1968. Son, Daniel Martin, and daughter, Sally Katherine, would be born in Monroe.
The family joined Covenant Presbyterian Church where Paula would serve as deacon, elder, Sunday School teacher, Bible School teacher, choir member, and played the piano for the youth choir. A member of the Junior League since the seventies, Paula dedicated her time to volunteering. She was a member of the cookbook committee, served as Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President, and was the 1981-1982 President. While serving as the organization’s 52nd President, the Junior League completed its orientation process and became the Junior League of Monroe — the 249th League to join the Association of Junior Leagues International.
After her children were all school-aged, Paula returned to the classroom. She taught Latin at St. Frederick High School. Her students from those years remained close with her for decades, often calling on her for advice and making it a priority to visit with her whenever in Monroe. When the opportunity arose to move to Neville High School, Paula began her lifelong dedication to her beloved Tigers. Her work at Neville was undoubtedly her greatest professional accomplishment. She taught English, Latin, and Spanish. She sponsored both Latin and Spanish clubs. She mentored hundreds of students, often meeting before school, during lunch, and after school. She worked with students of all ages and backgrounds. She treated everyone with respect and counseled them through difficult times. While admired by colleagues and students alike for her work in the classroom, it was unwavering dedication to extracurricular activities that defined her career at Neville. She served as sponsor to the Tigerettes, and all three cheer squads. It was her title of Varsity cheer sponsor that she most cherished. She guided her girls with honesty, integrity, and patience. She instilled life-long lessons of the importance of promptness, dedication, how to agree to disagree, how to handle difficult people with grace, and most importantly personal responsibility. She was a firm and fair disciplinarian. After “retiring” from Neville Paula went on to teach Spanish for another decade at Jesus the Good Shepherd School. She loved instilling a love of language to younger generations, often teaching the children of her former Neville students.
Paula was a dedicated mother to her three children. Although a gentle nurturer, the greatest gift she gave her children was instilling self-discipline, perseverance, responsibility for the consequences of their actions, and the importance of serving the Lord in all things. She never made excuses for her children. No matter how difficult the situation, she guided them to solve their own problems. As incredible of a mother as she was, her favorite role was that of Gammy to her five grandchildren. She was overcome with pride that her two eldest granddaughters, Emma and Sarah Grace, followed in her footsteps and graduated as Delta Gammas from the University of Texas. Her relationship with her first grandson Jack was incredibly special. She considered him to be her best friend. They spent countless hours together at the movies, a love he continues to have to this day. When he was diagnosed with cancer, she prayed fervently for his recovery. Her favorite thing to say about Mary Hope was that she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She loved nothing more than watching her become a small part of her legacy as a Neville cheerleader and spent every Friday night watching her dance as a Bengal Belle. She never missed a single game or pep rally. Her relationship with her youngest grandson, Emmett, was the one she cherished the most in her last years. She looked forward to their daily trips to Tiger Market and taking him shopping for Legos. He loved to sit with her for hours and watch the Game Show network with her. She was especially proud of his faithful heart and his ability to lead her family in prayer.
The phrase most used to describe Paula Stidham is that she was such a lady. An incredible teacher, mentor, friend, wife, mother, and grandmother. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Paula was preceded in death by Daniel Waggoner (brother), Felton Waggoner (father), Pauline Waggoner (mother). She is survived by loving husband Bruce; children, Stacy Anderson (Ronald) of Houston, TX, Dan Stidham (Christy) of Monroe, LA, Sally Allen (Curt) of Monroe, LA; grandchildren Emma and Sarah Grace Carr, Jack and Mary Hope Allen, Emmett Stidham; brother George Waggoner (Jere Ann) as well as nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank Dr. Rolf Morstead, Erica Johnson (PT), Kathleen Rasco (OT), Melissa Flemister (NP), and especially Megan McClanahan with Ascend Hospice for their kindness and patience during her illness.
Honorary Pallbearers will be Mickey McCarty, Roosevelt Rankins, Michael Harvey, and Cody Rials.
Paula especially wanted to honor these people (neighbors) who took the time to visit with her on her many daily drives. She so appreciated the kindness shown to her and looked forward to hearing from them; Gary Culp, Tyler Flemister, Jeff Gregory, and Wes Martin.
Should friends desire, contributions may be sent to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or to the NAFA Paula Stidham Spirit Scholarship.