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Letha Mae (Henry) Wofford
First Grade Teacher at New Haven School
Letha Mae Wofford passed away peacefully on June 9, 2020 at San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp.
She was born as Letha Mae Henry on October 20, 1929 in Center, Oklahoma to Mose J. & Rhoda B. (Dame) Henry. She was the eighth of 11 children. The Great Depression began just a week after her birth and her family had very little means materially. However, she grew up in a vibrant rural community surrounded by her grandparents and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors.
In 1943, at the height of World War II, she came to California by train with her mother and sisters, settling in Oakland, where her family was working in the shipyards and other war industries. She attended and graduated from Lockwood Junior High and Castlemont High School. During her time in Oakland, she worked for the Kress Department Store and Hazel Atlas Glass Company and had fond memories of riding the streetcars down East 14th Street (now International Boulevard), going to movie theaters, and picnicking at Lake Merritt.
Letha was introduced to a friend of her brother-in-law and immediately fell in love. She married Lloyd W. Wofford less than four months later on 5/5/55 at Brookfield Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland. She moved with him to Manteca which became her forever home. Upon moving to Manteca, she worked at Bobson’s Cleaners and Kingdon’s 5&10 variety store. Her greatest venture came when she took on the role as a mother, adopting Cindy and then Jeff four years later.
Encouraged by her teacher and principal husband, Letha became the first member of her family to go to college. Even as a mother in her thirties, she worked hard to balance her responsibilities, eventually obtaining an Associate Degree from Modesto Junior College and a Bachelor’s Degree from Stanislaus State College. In 1973, she began a 20-year career as a first grade teacher at New Haven School. She loved her students and valued her time as an educator. After retirement, she was a frequent substitute teacher at Shasta School.
In 1991, Letha’s only grandson Brandon was born and her family was complete. When she saw how much fun Lloyd was having with him, she decided to retire and devote her time to babysitting him. She played a central role in his life: taking him to school every morning, helping him with homework and fixing snacks every afternoon, and even being the “class grandma” helping in his preschool and elementary school classrooms. During the day, her primary role was being the assistant to Lloyd in many years of projects and repairs. They even built two houses together from the ground up. Overall, she was happiest when having her family and friends around her, making sumptuous dinners and delicious baked desserts.
Faith was central to Letha’s life in everything she did. She grew up in a religious community with a grandfather, uncles, and aunt who were Free Will Baptist and Pentecostal Holiness preachers. In 1953, she was baptized in Oakland and united with the Missionary Baptist Church. In Manteca, she attended the First Missionary Baptist Church and then First Baptist Church for many years. Throughout the years, she taught Sunday School for primary children in Oakland, Hayward, and Manteca.
Letha’s family was everything to her, the center of her life. She leaves behind her husband Lloyd, with whom she just celebrated her 65th anniversary, her daughter Cindy, her son Jeff, and her grandson Brandon. She is also survived by her cherished siblings: brother Jake Henry of Ada, Okla. and sisters Betty Mott & Janette Stockton, both of Hindsville, Ark., as well as her siblings-in-law: Marie Henry of Midwest City, Okla., Dewey Mott of Hindsville, Ark., and Ralph & Charlene Wofford of Cassville, Mo. She also leaves behind many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, and their families throughout the country, locally including her nephew Michael Wofford & wife Renee of Stockton, her niece Debbie Benites & husband Tony of Sonora, and her special “cousin-niece” Gwen Butler & husband Carl of Livermore.
Letha valued the presence of so many dear friends in her life. To her, these relationships made life worth living. There were many people in the Manteca area who were just like family to her: the Sam & Judy Bologna family, the Gale & Tim Green family, the Dadasovich family, the Meyer family, Renee Williams, Dave Dutra, Dave Ochoa, and so many more. She loved hosting the friends of her children and grandson, priding herself on being a mom and grandma to so many kids.
She was preceded in death by her parents Mose & Rhoda Henry and her siblings & their spouses: Lee & Louise Henry, Velma Henry, Millard & Tommie Henry, Ray & Viola Henry, Fred Henry, Helen & Ezra Patterson, June Henry, Perline Henry, and Levi Stockton, as well as her siblings-in-law, with whom she shared a special bond: H.T. & NaOla Wofford, Bernice & Everett Yates, Emma & Walter Oliver, and Virginia & Mitchell Schwab.
Private burial will take place at East Union Cemetery in Manteca. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Letha’s memory to “Friends of East Union Cemetery”, P.O. Box 591, Manteca, CA 95336.
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