News & Events


August 14, 2012


Mae Pearl Wingfield Ernst


mae pearl ernstMae Pearl Ernst, saw the first automobile come into her small East Texas hometown; two world wars; the Great Depression; the creation of television; the first man to walk on the moon; and, although she never fully understood it, the beginning of the digital age and the Internet. After 102 years of a fulfilling and long life, Mae Pearl passed away on August 14, 2012.


Mae Pearl was born in Leon County, Texas, on April 11, 1910, to Louise and Alfred Wingfield. Mae Pearl's early years were spent in the small community of Middleton where she started school in a two-room school house. The family later moved to nearby Centerville, Texas, where Mae Pearl graduated from high school. Her parents owned and managed a small hotel/boarding house in Centerville, and when a young German immigrant named Rudolf Hermann Gustav ("Rudy") Ernst was staying at the hotel while doing geophysical work, he fell in love with Mae Pearl. The couple was married on July 11, 1931, at the First Christian Church in Huntsville, Texas, and lived in various locations in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana during the first few years of their 57-year marriage. During this time, their only child, a daughter named Gretchen, was born, and in 1940, the family settled in Silsbee, Texas, where Mae Pearl lived for 65 years.


Mae Pearl was active in various civic and social clubs in Silsbee and took great pride in her beautiful flower garden. She was a charter member of the Silsbee Woman's Club and served as its first president. Mae Pearl was also a member of the Colonel George Moffett Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, and was a member of The Order of the Eastern Star, where she held various local and state offices. For over 40 years, Mae Pearl was a member of Northwood Christian Church in Beaumont, Texas.


In 2005, Mae Pearl moved to Manor Park Retirement Village in Midland, Texas, and became a "regular" at the Helen Greathouse Manor weekly Bingo games, the book discussion meetings and the monthly "Happy Hour." The staff and other residents made the last years of Mae Pearl's life enriching and most importantly, happy.


Mae Pearl was the grandmother of MC Dean of Community Relations & Special Events Rebecca Bell. Other survivors include daughter and son-in-law Gretchen and Frank Bell of Midland; sister Imadel Bacchus of College Station, Texas; grandson Allen Bell and his wife Diana of Midland; great grandchildren, Amanda and Christian Bell of Midland; nieces Susan Hill of Atlanta, Georgia, Sandra McBride of Houston, Patricia Oteri of Santa Fe, New Mexico; and nephews J.W. Wingfield, Jr., of Lafayette, Louisiana; Keith Wingfield of Lake Jackson, Texas, Bill Lester of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Robert Wingfield of Cypress, California.


If you wish to make an online donation in her honor, visit Give a Gift or, you may mail your donation to:


3600 N. GARFIELD • MIDLAND, TX 79705


3600 N. GARFIELD · MIDLAND, TX 79705-6399 · 432.685.4526

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