Ernelle Dudley Orr-Rayburn passed from her earthly life on June 21, 2021. She spent her last days surrounded by family and friends who loved her dearly.
Ernelle was born May 7, 1928 in Crystal Hill, Virginia to Thomas O. Dudley and Mary Martin Dudley. Ernelle spent her childhood growing up in Roxboro, North Carolina and graduated from Roxboro High School in May 1945. On December 21, 1945 she married the love of her life Albert (Bill) Lane Orr. In May 1946 Bill and Ernelle moved to Sweeny, Texas where they lived and made a home for the next 51 years in the same location on Dogtown Road. Even though not having children of their own left a void for Ernelle and Bill, they were blessed by their longtime friends Jack and Dorothy Cole who graciously shared their four kids with them, making two her namesake. Her “special” children as she always referred to them brought so much joy and so many wonderful memories to her life.
Ernelle worked as a bookkeeper for many years at Anderson Lumber Company and Sweeny ISD before spending her final 29 years with Texas New-Mexico Power. During the later years while still working Ernelle cared for her beloved mother, daddy, and Bill as their health failed. She lost her mother first and then in September of 1996 she lost Bill and 9 days later her daddy. Ernelle started a second career with Baker Funeral Home where she worked for 20 Years blessing many families with her loving support during their time of grief.
In 2006 Ernelle was blessed to find love a second time on the tailgate of a truck by the pond. She married John H. Rayburn on June 9, 2006. Even though John and Ernelle only enjoyed a short time together they made many wonderful memories. She always said one of her greatest joys was becoming “Granny” to John’s children and grandchildren.
Ernelle was a faithful and loyal servant to her Lord and Savior for her whole life and remained a cherished member of the First Baptist Church of Sweeny for over 75 years, where she lovingly served in many roles.
She was a member of the Sweeny Community Hospital Pink Ladies Auxiliary for over 50 years and also served as a board member for both the Sweeny Community Hospital and Sweeny Independent School District for numerous years.
Ernelle is survived by the children she always said “she couldn’t love more if she had given birth to them”, including special children – Dr. Ralph Dudley Cole (Teresa), Kay Cole (Glen Bell), Kim Sydow (Mark), and Jackie Nell Hornback (George) and her children in love (she didn’t like the word step) Cindy Scarborough (Johnny), Patty Kelley, Penny Aguirre (Ross), and John T Rayburn (Patrick Lucas). Also left to cherish her memory is her brother, William L. Dudley (Roxana), 22 Grandchildren, 22 Great Grandchildren, and 1 Great Great Grandchild, along with special Friends –Mike Rayburn, Mary Amason, Olga Schulte , Jerl and Sue Watkins and numerous nieces, nephews, and many friends.
She was preceded in death by her husbands, parents, and her special friends Daisy Horn and Jack and Dorothy Cole.
Services will be held Monday, June 28, 2021 at First Baptist Church, Sweeny. Family will receive friends from 9:00 to 11:00 A.M., followed by the funeral service beginning at 11:00am. Interment will follow at Sweeny Cemetery.
Serving as Pallbearers will be her nephews Clay Orr, Roger Studer, Dr. Ralph D. Cole, Darryl Orr, Tony Dudley, Todd Dudley, George Hornback, and John Kuhlman
Honorary Pallbearers: James Lingo, John Champagne, Joey Bruce, and Cleston King
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to First Baptist Church Sweeny or the charity of your choice.
Special thank you to Kelly Parks, Shelley Waters, Chesney Sisson, and the nurses at Sweeny Community Hospital for the love and care during her final days.