Mason County News
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Laverne Lee
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 • Posted February 22, 2012

Laverne Lee, of Mason, passed away on Monday, February 13, 2012, at the age of 83. She was born on March 2, 1928, in Mason to Roy Capps and Ella Hasse Capps. She graduated from Mason High School in 1945 and received her B.A. from Texas Christian University in 1948. She married Jack Lee on July 17, 1948. They were married for 63 years.Laverne is survived by her husband, Jack Lee of Mason, and son, Robin Lee of Mason, along with two grandchildren, Julia Lee of San Francisco, California and Andrew Lee of Menlo Park, California. A son, John Wallace Lee, preceded her in death in 1981.Visitation with the family occurred on February 15 at the Mason Funeral Home. Funeral services were held February 16 at the First United Methodist Church in Mason. Interment followed in the Gooch Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Mason Funeral Home, owned by Laverne’s close friends Randy and Amy Beckmann. Condolences may be sent to the family on-line at Pallbearers were Pat Reardon, T.J. Webster, Mark Nash, Corky Eckert, Jay Lee, Ted Lee, Carl Brandenberger, and Bobby Capps. Laverne designated all members Riata Service Organization as honorary pallbearers.She requested that memorials in her honor be made to the Steady Steps program at the First United Methodist Church of Mason.Laverne was the fourth generation of her family to be born in Mason County and her life story includes much of the history of Mason County.Her parents were Roy Capps and Ella Hasse Capps, a somewhat unusual couple for the times who united the German speaking settlers of the southeast portion of the county with the English speaking settlers who lived in the northeast portion. Even though the Capps and Hasse families lived only seven miles apart along Willow Creek, their paths never crossed until Roy and Ella married.Ella Hasse was a descendant of one of the original German families who arrived in Mason in the 1850s. She and her family spoke German until World War I, when there was tremendous pressure to abandon German and speak English, although she had a pronounced German accent for the rest of her life.Laverne’s father, Roy Capps, was a descendant of the large Capps family in the northeast part of the county. Much of their land holdings had been purchased by Sam Capps, one of the strong men who led the drives that took thousands of head of cattle across the plains to the railheads in Kansas and Missouri. Mason was one of the origination points of the great trail drives, and there are family stories about Sam returning to Mason with thousands of gold dollars in his saddle bags.Laverne had childhood memories of revival meetings that were common in Mason County up to the 1940s. Men would build shade arbors and families would stay for days. Every day would have several religious services with preaching and hymns. Between times the families would visit, have meals, and the children played.Her father, Roy Capps, wanted to be a rancher. By the 1920s, however, the land holdings of the Capps family had been divided many times through several generations of inheritance. In a pattern that has held for decades in Mason, Roy left the county to find employment.Roy worked in the 1920s and 1930s as a salesman for a company that made electric generators. Before the Rural Electrification Administration in 1935 only ten percent of rural dwellers had access to electric power. Private utility companies argued that it was too expensive to string electric lines to rural farmsteads. Roy traveled across the mountain and western states selling electric generators to farmers and ranchers. Laverne and her parents were able to visit many of the great National Parks when there were no gates at the entrance, no guards, and no people. In the 1930s, Roy ran a filling station in the building now housing the Mason Community Thrift store and operated some trucks. Gradually he accumulated a small nest egg to allow him to pursue his dream.From the 1930s through the 1960s, men from Mason, including Ray Walker and C.W. Capps, sought their fortune in the brush country of South Texas. Roy Capps leased, and later purchased, a ranch in Zavala County. Laverne developed her love of ranching from the time she spent with her father. She rode and worked alongside the cowboys, as have women in Mason since ranching began. Mason’s history is full of these strong women. When the time came, Laverne and her cousins Charlene Nash, Nancy Hasse, Sally Capps, following Anna Martin before them, stepped up and ran ranches as well as any man.The old German rock house of her Hasse ancestors served as the parsonage for the Art Methodist church for many years, but it was falling apart by the 1970s. By then, many of the old German rock houses had been torn down or remodeled into larger homes.In 1978, Laverne decided to save the house and keep intact the original structure, which was typical of German farmhouses of the 1840s. In 1981 Laverne converted the house to the first bed and breakfast inn in Mason, based on examples she had seen in Europe. Because there are very few of these German rock houses left in their original format, the house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. One of Laverne’s loves was the community of Mason. She was a loyal member of the First United Methodist Church of Mason and part of the group that created the church chapel.She was a lifelong member of the Democratic Party of Mason.She was one of the founding members, and the original president, of the Riata Service Organization, whose members continue to make important contributions to Mason. For many years, Riata’s central project was raising money to aid our local hospital. Laverne and Patsy Zesch and Riata worked hard to create Heritage Park.Laverne and Doris Grote came up with the idea of a walking tour around the Mason Square. Doris and Laverne researched the history of the buildings. Laverne created a brochure along with sketches to illustrate the tour, which they gave to the Chamber of Commerce.When the Fredericksburg hospital decided to broaden its focus to serve the surrounding region, they asked Laverne to join their board as their first member outside of Gillespie County. The Outpatient Services Addition was initiated in 1990 during her tenure. When her term ended, she nominated Bobbi McMillan to take her seat. Laverne felt that many visitors missed the beauty of Mason County. Most visitors never left the main roads or never knew where to go. She devoted much of her time to the Bluebonnet and Wildflower Drives in Mason County. She and other women, including Riata members, distributed bluebonnet seeds along county roads. She worked for several years to create an illustrated map of wildflower drives along country lanes. In 1998, she provided some of the illustrations for Laura Trim’s book, Short Trips In the Hill Country. One of her proudest possessions was a letter from Lady Bird Johnson thanking her for this work.In the 1970s she began studying to become an artist. During the 1980s she produced over 200 paintings and drawings of buildings and scenes in Mason. Her drawings seem sparse and simple, yet they usually went straight to the essence of the subject. Many of these art works are prized by friends while other images are still in use by local churches, banks and the Chamber of Commerce.Laverne traveled widely but never saw anywhere she liked better than the place of her birth. At the time of her death, she was fortunate to be surrounded by her close friends Sidney Dickson, Mona Hoerster, and Lupita Morales while her husband, Jack, held her hand.

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