Oleta V. Gattis was born on October 7, 1919 in Sadler, Texas. The eighth of eleven children, she was the second daughter of Benjamin “Frank” and Nora Belle (Bullard) Wood. She graduated from Sadler High School in May 1937 and began college at Texas State College for Women (now TWU) in Denton, Texas to study elementary education. She later graduated from North Texas State Teachers’ College (now UNT) with a degree in elementary education. Oleta taught school in Willow Springs, Texas; Collinsville, Texas; and Little Rock, Arkansas.
In 1943 she married James Loyd Gattis, a captain and company commander with the Army Corps of Engineers and a graduate of Texas A&M University. They spent their honeymoon in San Francisco before Loyd was deployed for military service in Hawaii. After World War II ended, Loyd and Oleta moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Loyd worked as an agricultural engineer with the Agricultural Extension Service and where Oleta taught elementary school. They were blessed with the birth of a daughter, Betty Ann (Gattis) Stratemann, and four years later they celebrated the birth of their son, James Loyd Gattis, II. Loyd retired from the military in 1968 as a Lieutenant Colonel and died in 1972. Oleta retired from teaching in 1987. She was an active member of the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock until 1985, when she moved to New Braunfels, Texas, to be closer to her daughter Betty and her family. In New Braunfels, Oleta was an active member of the New Braunfels Church of Christ and was a regular attendee of Ladies’ Bible Class. She wrote the words to “Sweet Communion,” a song included in the New Braunfels Church of Christ hymnal. Oleta was also involved in the Newcomer’s Club and volunteered at the Senior Citizen Center. She especially enjoyed playing bridge, drinking Dr. Pepper, reading, learning history, traveling, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. In her final weeks, Oleta was blessed with the company and tender care of family friend Lisa Garcia.
Oleta passed from this life on February 8, 2012 following a brief illness. She was preceded in death by her parents Frank and Nora; siblings Clarence, Charles, John, Dorothy, Clayton, Leslie, Luther, Norris, and Benjamin; and her husband Loyd.
Oleta’s legacy lives on in her family. She is survived by her daughter, Betty Ann Stratemann and husband Martin Stratemann of New Braunfels, Texas; her son, James Loyd Gattis II and wife Lyn Gattis of Springfield, Missouri; her sister, Laura Beth Siebman and husband Alford Siebman of Sadler, Texas; her four grandchildren, Scott A. Stratemann and wife Tomoko of New Braunfels, Texas; Stacy (Stratemann) Killen and husband Robb of Nashville, Tennessee; James Loyd Gattis, III and wife Jenna of Kansas City, Missouri; and Mary (Gattis) Norton and husband Dan of Nashville, Tennessee; and her three great-grandchildren, Sebastian Stratemann, and twins Elizabeth and Katherine Norton.
Oleta will always be remembered for her love of learning, for her hard-working and determined spirit, for her strong faith, and for loving her family well. Her kind, earnest ways will be missed.
A memorial service for Oleta was held at 10:00 am, Monday February 13, 2012, at the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, Arkansas, with Nick Hamilton officiating. Oleta was buried with her husband Loyd at Forest Hills Memorial Park in Alexander, Arkansas. Memorials may be made to the New Braunfels Christian Academy, 995 Mission Hills Drive, New Braunfels, Texas 78130. Please visit Oleta’s guest book at www.griffinleggettforesthills.com.