Pearl lady's daughter is a star


SHE prefers to live in the shadows of the loves of her life which is very evident as seen in the recent announcement that her daughter Pam Mercer-McWilliams was one of 12 women honored at the annual Stars Over Longview Awards Ceremony and Luncheon.

“She was just so surprised she got it,” said her mother, Laverne Mercer. “Pam is so dedicated to her work and her students …”

“There is nothing important about me,” said Laverne. “I remain in the shadows, but my life has been so blessed and all good,” she said. “And I attribute that to Talmadge. He was such a good man and a good daddy and one I miss tremendously,” she said.

“We raised 6 children who live close by and in the mornings, I have one coming in the front door and one in the back door to have coffee with me,” she laughed. “I am blessed.”

“I wanted to be a teacher. But, I met Talmadge and we married when I was sixteen and he was seventeen. Everyone said it wouldn’t last but we were married seventy-four years,” she laughed. “After finishing high school, he was drafted into the Army and twelve months later we brought home our first daughter, Pam. We built a little house on a corner of Dudley Road.

“I always loved kids and taught at the church nursery for quite a few years and after mine were grown I went to work as a teacher’s aide for the blind and deaf. Oh, yes, I learned to read Braille and sign language and I loved it. At school I worked with teachers Ann Taylor and Sandra Butts and I still call them my daughters, too.”

“Later, we built our house on Fredonia on Mercer land where I still am today. Our house is a 4 bedroom, 2 bath, brick home and I can remember we borrowed $8,000 to build it. But, Talmadge was the one to build it. He did all of the work on it,” she said proudly.

Although Laverne, still hedges when talking about herself, those who know and love her refer to her as “the pearl lady.”

“Oh, I wear them all the time,” she laughed. “Sometimes while I sleep and sometimes even in the shower. I just love them and they have become part of my wardrobe. I can’t tell you how many strands I have, but bunches. Some are short, some are long, a few are real and some are not. And I have given several good ones to friends,” she laughed.

Laverne does believe the old adage of “behind every good man is a good woman” probably wearing her pearls to prove it. Now, at age 90, she is looking forward to seeing pearly gates and Talmadge when her time on earth is done. She is such a joy, we hope that is a long time to come.

FOREST Home Baptist Church of Kilgore has been featured in the March publication of the Texan, the news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

The feature focuses on the church’s unity, cooperative program giving, youth involvement and longevity of the ministerial staff.

Holding their positions for a sum total of 85 years with Pastor “Buddy” Duggins having 29 years of service, Music Minister Mark Fried with 25 years and Minister of Education Pat Monk just celebrating his 31st year at Forest Home, the trio also feel blessed to have five other ministers/members and very active deacons in the congregation assisting when needs arise which seem to be quite often considering nearly 800 members attend Sunday worship and reaches 1200 viewers worldwide.

Duggins attests to the fact it is their love for each other without a harsh word passed among them helps keep the unity within which he reiterates from the pulpit most Sunday mornings.

“Always we want to reach more people,” he said. “We need just the Spirit of God to keep blessing. We need the leadership, guidance and power of the Holy Spirit…staying true to the gospel is important to us,” Duggins said. “We’re Bible believers.”

Forest Home’s services are televised for further outreach and can be internet accessed at A YouTube channel has been added to expand their reach.

The Texan Southern Baptist has a circulation of over 43,000 reaching pastors, church staff, members and lay people across Texas and beyond.

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May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes. In the meantime we may be reached at 903-984-2593 or


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