Lee, Orpha Alvora (Mrs. J.W.)


Orpha was the last child born to Charles Oliver and Halley Caulk. She first saw the light of day at their farm on Haw Creek near Pollock, Louisiana in Grant Parish on December 18, 1903. There had been fifteen other children, several of whom died in infancy or early childhood. The Caulks were people of strong religious conviction who considered relationships in the family to be of supreme importance. While they were of limited affluence, they were very resourceful and each child in the family learned to contribute to the welfare of all. Orpha finished Pollock High School and for a number of years had a professional career as a telephone switchboard operator for the Pollock Exchange.
In December of 1935 she married Reverend J. W. Lee, who had been her pastor in the earlier years of her life. Older than she, he had been twice married and was an outstanding family man, having fathered eighteen children, including the ten that he and Orpha produced. Family life in the Lee household was full of love, both of the “tough” variety as well as grace on the part of both parents. The adventures of this family and its good humor were several times written up in the local newspapers.
Brother Lee had been a prominent minister in the former Methodist Protestant Church and was a member of the Uniting General Conference when the three great branches of Methodism joined in 1939. Together, they served many grassroots congregations with fidelity and distinction.
Orpha was my great aunt—my Grandmother Sally’s sister. At one point in time I was overjoyed to be her pastor for a few years in Natchitoches when I served the College Avenue United Methodist Church. I remember several things about my Aunt Orpha. She was a quiet, gentle person who had almost infinite patience with her active children. She was levelheaded and well organized. Her hospitality was renowned and persons in unfortunate straits often sojourned with the Lees. Her faith had become so native to her that she made a Christ-like –response to everything.
Orpha passed away on April 30, 1992, having been active until the last few days of her life. Dr. Jolly Harper and Reverend Ryan Horton conducted her funeral in Natchitoches on the following Sunday afternoon and I offered the graveside ritual in the old Pollock Cemetery. Orpha had 40 grandchildren and 56 great grandchildren, many of whom gathered there that day. With all those wonderful young people present, it was an atmosphere of great hope and promise. We are all grateful that Orpha Lee touched our lives and will continue to influence us through our fond memory of her.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference 1992, p. 223 By James Walter Jones

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