Elizabeth Victoria Gorka Stavinoha was born to Frank M. and Catherine Gorka on June 11, 1933. She was their only daughter which led to her being nicknamed “sister” by her four brothers and all who knew her. She married George Stavinoha in June of 1954 which gave her the title of “wife”. She and her beloved husband, George, had four daughters who gave her the name “mama”. Elizabeth had a personal relationship with the Lord and she shared her love of God throughout her life. She wore the name “Christian” unashamedly.
As we look back at her life, Elizabeth had many names and titles which she cherished and proudly wore:
Teacher. (She taught in the Lamar CISD for 32 years and taught life lessons every day of her life)
Bluejay. (She remained a proud Bluejay from Needville High School throughout her life.)
Member of Calvary Episcopal Church.
Quilter ( not to be misread as Q-u-i-t-t-e-r, because she never quit and not to be mistaken as Q-u-i-e-t, because she was never one to remain quiet.)
Christian. (It is not a mistake that her list of titles begins and ends with Christian- for being a child of God aided and added to all of her other titles and by her own admission being a follower of Christ made every title and everything possible. Even in the later stage of Alzheimer’s disease, she continued to recite the Lord’s Prayer each night along with the bedtime prayer she taught to her children).
If a person only read through the list of names used to describe or set Elizabeth apart, it would be a pretty impressive list. All of those titles may be enough. However, all who were blessed to know Elizabeth during her 87 year life (or even a moment therein) would know that you must add at least a few adjectives to the titles.
Faithful. Beloved. Loyal. Devoted. Unwavering. Loud. Passionate. Loving. Encouraging. Engaged. Hands-on. Spirited. Fierce. Fun-loving. Disciplined.
We have only listed a few adjectives. We are hoping that those who know her are smiling in remembrance of all that she was and forever will be. And knowing her sense of humor, you are smiling that the words patient, pristine, prime, proper and cool tempered were not listed. Elizabeth herself would tell you that she was like an Amish quilt- she was not perfect. She would go on to tell you that the Amish believe that only God is perfect and therefore the Amish leave a mistake or an imperfection in any quilt they piece and sew.
If you were not blessed to know Elizabeth personally, you ‘may’ have met her without realizing it through knowing any one of her four daughters.
LaVonne received her love of children and her passion for teaching from Elizabeth.
Jan received her incomparable work ethic and fierce devotion to family from Elizabeth.
Beth received her love of cattle ranching (both the highs and lows of ranching) from Elizabeth.
Lynn received her full head of gray hair complete with 1,000 cowlicks from Elizabeth.
To know any of her daughters, is to know a part of their mother, Elizabeth.
A title from which she gained the most pride and the title which would light up her face to talk about was the title “Grandmama”. This is a name to which she would answer day, night, rain, or shine- whether called out in triumph or whimpered in pain. Elizabeth has left a legacy of love in her grandchildren: Catherine (Katie), Jacob (Jake), Hannah, Sarah, Mason IV (Man), Amelia (Amy) and Caroline (Caro). She shared her love of all things in nature with them and told them they were building ‘golden memories’ as they weeded flowerbeds in the early spring, picked sweet corn in the early part of summer, sat by a bonfire and roasted hotdogs in the fall, or fed hay to hungry cattle on the coldest days of winter. In each part of the year, for their entire lives, she was there and always willing to build memories. She taught each of them hard work, family values and the joy of just being present with one another. She gave these life lessons by her example of working hard, loving her family in actions more than words and by always, always being present.
Elizabeth loved getting together with family and friends, whatever the occasion. She rarely missed a function. She had a cutting sense of humor. When visiting with her she never hesitated to let you know her opinion. She was always willing to cut to the truth. She was honest and fun and for that people wanted to be around her. If you did not want her to tell you to stop misbehaving, it was easier to just behave.
Elizabeth told her daughters on more than one occasion that she loved visiting and being with others so much that she was not going to miss her own funeral. She would follow up the statement by adding with a chuckle that she was going to be so mad that we were celebrating without her that she wasn’t going to even talk to us during the event. None of us believed she would be able to hold to that threat of not talking- even at her own funeral. We guess that she and God are having the last laugh. We are not able to gather to celebrate the amazing woman whom her parents named Elizabeth Victoria Gorka and her husband gave the name Stavinoha during this season. We will have to just hold to the promise that she and George are waltzing together again in heaven with all those who have gone before her: her husband George; her parents Frank and Catherine; her brothers Julius “Sonny” (his wife Dorothy), George “Jim” (his wife Vernon), Edwin “Ed” (his wife Francis) and Frank M. Jr, “Frankie” (and his wife Erma); her great grandson, Lane and her in-laws S.A. and Mary Stavinoha.
Those of us not able to attend the great dance reunion in heaven, will gather later to reminisce and share which title each of us call Elizabeth and to which she answered willingly and to which she answered laughing.
We know at this time, the last title which Elizabeth heard here on earth on December 9, 2020 was called to her by her Lord and Savior as He called her home and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.”
Those left to remember Elizabeth’s earthly journey (until we all celebrate with Jesus) are:
Her four daughters: LaVonne Schneider (her husband Ronald); Jan Black (her husband Connie); Beth Briscoe (her husband Mason III) and Lynn Stavinoha.
Her seven precious grandchildren mentioned above. Her seven more precious great-grandchildren. Her beloved nieces and nephews in both the Gorka and Stavinoha families. And friends and neighbors too numerous to count but whom stayed in contact with Elizabeth through their faithful prayers.
The family wishes to thank Elizabeth’s long-time friend, helper and ‘sister by choice’, Sophia; her more recent friend and helper Ms. Rita and all of the helpers from Altus Hospice particularly Ms. Aretha who was a huge support for during the last year.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Elizabeth’s beloved church, Calvary Episcopal Church, 806 Thompson Road, Richmond, Texas 77469, or an amazing organization Needville Senior Meals, 3414 Beasley Avenue, Needville, Texas 77469, or a charity of your choice in memory of Elizabeth Gorka Stavinoha.
Due to Covid 19 restrictions and concerns, the funeral arrangements are private family services. The church service will be livestreamed at 3 PM Friday, December 18, 2020, and can be viewed at facebook.com/CalvaryEpiscopalChurchRichmond.
Condolence messages may be written for the Stavinoha family at www.garmanycarden.com.
Services are under the direction of Garmany & Carden Funeral Directors, 1201 Fourth Street, Rosenberg, TX 77471 (281)342-4671.