DONNA - Evelyn Darlene "Mimi" Payne Leadbetter passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2018, at Thrive Memory Care Facility in Corpus Christi Texas.
Darlene was born on August 22, 1933, to Willie Crosby and Beulah Payne, in Stratford, Oklahoma. She was the youngest of four children. She first attended high school in Donna, Texas, where she was a standout in basketball and track, even known as "Half-court Payne" for her ability to sink the basketball from half court. She later attended school in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, where she was voted the Boys' Basketball Queen.
On Labor Day weekend, September 1963, Tom Leadbetter worked up the courage to ask for Darlene's hand, and they were married on October 19, 1963. Tom says it was "the best decision I ever made." Together they owned and operated the Merle Norman Studio in Weslaco for seventeen years, and the D & T (Darlene and Tom) Drive Thru Grocery in Donna for twelve years.
Darlene had many passions in life, including pottery, painting, and crochet; and singing in the church choir, which she did proudly for over fifty years. She enjoyed traveling with her husband and lived life to the fullest; and always, no matter what, she was a true "lady."
Darlene was preceded in death by her first husband, Dean Cotten; her parents; and her siblings, Preston Payne, Marvin Payne, and Lorraine Barr.
She is survived by her devoted husband, Tom; her children Debbie (Billy) Tiffee, David Cotten, Dede Cotten, and TJ Leadbetter; three grandchildren, Brooke Solomon, Tommy Tiffee, and Amber Humphreys; five great-grandchildren, Mika Solomon, Mackenzie Bryce, Taryn Tiffee, Gavin Dean Stephens, and Presleigh Stephens; and her beloved poodle, Moses.
Visitation will be held on Monday, November 12, 2018, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, and a chapel service will be at 11:00 am at McCaleb Funeral Home in Weslaco, Texas with burial following at Highland Memorial Park Cemetery.
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Tommy, so sorry for your loss. May God give you peace and strength in these times. God bless you.
Thank you for sharing the video. Wonderful tribute.
My condolences to the family. Thoughts and prayers are with you.
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