OBITUARY

Noel Lee Soileau Sr.

December 4, 1938March 3, 2018
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Noel Lee Soileau, Sr. 79, a forty-four year resident of Lumberton, passed away on Saturday March 3, 2018 in Houston. He was born on December 04, 1938 in Crowley, Louisiana to his parents Joseph H. Soileau and Coda Perkins Soileau who preceded him in death.

Noel was a retired Machinist with UNOCAL. He was a Baptist by faith and a devoted member of the First Baptist Church of Loeb. As mentioned he was a Machinist First Class who loved doing his craft. He especially enjoyed restoring Power King Tractors and also was an avid old car enthusiast. Noel was always up to the task of helping anybody, at any time with their respective repairs. He loved the Lord, his family, and his friends.

He is survived by his loving wife of fifty-two years, Nita Soileau of Lumberton; son, Noel Lee Soileau, Jr. and wife Kim of Lumberton; daughter, Lori Sell and husband Steve of Lumberton; sister, Rhinda Hooper and husband John of Canyon Lake; grandson, Private First Class Trenton Sell of the Marines; and two granddaughters, Breann Soileau and Haidyn Soileau.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday March 7, 2018 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Forest Lawn Funeral Home.

A Celebration of Noel’s Life will be held at First Baptist Church of Lumberton on Thursday March 8, 2018 at 2:00 p.m., burial will follow at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Beaumont.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Arthritis Foundation P. O. Box 96288 Washington, D.C. or online at Arthritis.org in honor of Noel Lee Soileau, Sr.

  • FAMILY

  • Joseph H. Soileau, Father
  • Coda Perkins Soileau, Mother
  • Nita Soileau, Wife
  • Noel Lee Soileau Jr. and wife Kim, Son
  • Lori Sell and husband Steve, Daughter
  • Rhinda Hooper and husband John, Sister
  • Trenton Sell, Grandson
  • Breann Soileau, Granddaughter
  • Haidyn Soileau, Granddaughter
  • PALLBEARERS

  • Lenert Tiemann
  • Lynn Snowden
  • Willis Smith
  • Bob Allemond
  • Adam Baylor
  • John Hooper
  • Steve Sell
  • Trenton Sell
  • Robert Doucet

Services

  • Visitation Wednesday, March 7, 2018
  • A Celebration of Noel's Life Thursday, March 8, 2018
REMEMBERING

Noel Lee Soileau Sr.

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Noel Lee Soileau, Jr.

July 13, 2018

As I sat and tried to compile my thoughts about my Dad, I began to realize how hard it was to sum up this great man in a few short sentences. I continued to come back to the same feeling of, always there. My dad was always there. He explained to me on more than one occasion that he wished he had spent more time with my sister and I when we were growing up. He felt as if he had worked more than he should have when we were younger, trying to provide for us as a family, and had missed out on things. But the thing is, I can't seem to remember a time when he wasn't there. He always made time to take us on trips and family vacations. He was always there on holidays making memories with us. He spent time with me camping and motorcycle riding. He would spend his weekend in his shop working on projects and he always made me a part of it. My Dad was always there to help me if I needed anything fixed. He wouldn't do it for me, he would show me the way. He was there teaching me. He taught me how to work on things, to think through problems, and to find a solution.

When I grew older, he was always there if I had a question about how something worked, because he had usually already worked on it himself. He was always there to give me advice about a situation that I was facing in my own life. My Dad was always there as a mentor to me on how to treat others, and what to expect out of others toward me. So many times in life you need someone to talk to, someone to guide you and to ask advice from, and my Dad was always there. I thank God that I was given a Dad that loved me and taught me so much about life and was always there.

Martha Carpenter

July 13, 2018

Words cannot begin to express my deep sorrow with your loss. Cling to the love and precious memories that you share as a family and hold tightly to your faith and knowing God is right there beside you. This journey is very difficult, but you will find strength and comfort each day through God's love and the caring concern of family and friends. May you truly feel the warmth of God's love as he embraces you. "With God, love lives forever." With sympathy and my love and prayers for each of you, Martha

Murphy Jorden

July 13, 2018

I am deeply saddened at the passing of your dear husband and father, Lee Sr. I have very fond memories of him and my heart goes out to you and the rest of your family. May God comfort you and send peace, Love Murphy

Melanie Dorsey

July 13, 2018

Buster was one of a kind. He made me laugh ALWAYS!! Many may not realize this, but Nita and Buster used to take me & Amy on their dates before they were married. I would go with Nita and Amy would ride with Buster (you and a Corvair at that time) and we'd race to our destination each one taking a different route. That had to be Buster's idea. He made everything good. And although he'll be missed terribly, you know he's already made Heaven a better place. All our love, Mel & Steve.

Mark Dorsey

July 13, 2018

I was very saddened to hear about Uncle Lee's passing. I do not feel that he is gone from us. While we are not able to see him anymore, I have some very fond memories and can picture him laughing. He was always there for all of the kids and making sure the kids were having fun. From making ice cream to go carts and tractors and even snipe hunting. I believe this influenced me in that I always believe kids come first. I have enjoyed teaching kids to scuba dive much more than adults. I truly hope that you are doing well and focus on all of the great times and memories. With my deepest sympathies, Mark

Leon Dorsey

July 13, 2018

Buster was one of a kind. He always made us laugh until we cried. How fortunate we were to have in our family. Our hearts & prayers are with you now and always. Love, The Leon Dorsey Family

Karen Johnston

July 13, 2018

I remember Lee being such a wonderful, giving, caring, Christian man. I know all of you are still grieving. Just want to let you know you are in my thoughts and prayers on this First Father's Day weekend. Sincerely, Karen

Britney Altman Culver

March 17, 2018

My favorite memory of Mr. Lee was from our time together at FBC Lumberton. He was always such a sweet and compassionate person, and I always had fun playing and joking with him at the evening choir rehearsals or when we would get together for lunch at their house. He was the first one to teach me about a tractor, and never got tired of showing them to me on visits. He will always hold a special place in my heart, and I know he is giving tractor lessons in heaven!

Love all of you! - Britney and Taylor

Kristin Torrez

March 17, 2018

The best memory I have is of Mr. Lee and Mrs. Nita. They were my Sunday School teachers when I was in 3rd grade. We were learning the books of the Bible. We would recite what we memorized each week. Well, Mr. Lee got a job in California. I only memorized through The Song of Solomon, then they moved. Thats all I have memorized to this day.
I remember when they moved back. I was so excited. Mr. Lee and Mrs. Nita have always lived me and been there for me. Mr. Lee, you are a wonderful man of God.

Brad Parsons

March 5, 2018

Lee, I am truly sorry for your loss, I know that your father was proud of the man you are. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Biography

Many things can be said about Noel Lee "Buster" Soileau Sr. Known to friends and acquaintances as a "Buster". He was born on December 4, 1938 in Crowley, Louisiana. His parents were Joseph Hilary. and Coda Cordelia (Perkins) Soileau. Joe, as his dad was known, worked at a Studebaker car dealership, but soon found his calling as a manager at a Billups Service Station in Dequincy, Louisiana. Coda called Dequincy home and was one of six children. There were lots of cousins for Lee to plan with and many adventures were experienced swimming in Beckworth Creek and riding bicycles out to the fire tower and climbing up to look out over the surrounding forests. With his Cajun heritage from his Grandmother, Annie Denise Soileau, Lee could easily slip into a Cajun drawl at a moments notice. It's believed that and uncle, Gerard Pellerin, first came to the Natchez, Mississippi area in 1719 a few years after the French established Fort Rosalie there. He brought with him a nephew-the first "Noel". After the Natchez Indians attacked the fort in 1729, Noel "a resourceful man" according to family history, hid in the woods and made his way to New Orleans. When the French reestablished the fort in 1730, he became the quartermaster of the royal warehouse.

Life had its difficulties growing up in the late 1930s and early 1940s. World War II was in progress and commodities were hard to get. Lee told us stories of boxcars on the railroad where such things as cabbage could be obtained to help feed their family. Raised in the middle of a rice field there was always plenty of rice to eat, with gravy of course. Much of the rice came from an uncle who worked at a rice mill in Crowley, Louisiana. Lee's sister, Rhinda Elizabeth, was born November 27, 1947. She was a frail child for a while and completely adored by her big brother. Nevertheless, Lee reveled in making things work. Later in life his passion became restoring old tractors. He could take a hulk of literally junk and make it into a show piece. His dream of operating machinery began when he was nine years old while living in Dequincy. He was watching workers in a railroad machine shop from a tree and decided he wanted to do that someday. Lee spent his early years with his Dad learning to hunt duck which would most often end up in a gumbo. Lee often told stories of his Dad raising cocker spaniels, Sunshine and Robby, in particular.

In 1954, the Soileaus moved from small town Dequincy to Beaumont, Texas to a little house on Magnolia Street. Joe operated Billups station on 11th Street. Life in Texas was a little different for a young boy. But a guy named Jerry Tant befriended "Buster" and helped him to adjust. Working nights a Billups was intriguing and could also be dangerous at times. But fun times evolved also. There were burgers, fries and malts to be had at Tucker's Diner next door! The station became a hang out for friends from French High School. Lee bought his first car for a little or nothing and learned to drive it at night down 11th Street which wasn't so busy back then. Joe was walking to work for a while. So, it wasn't long before the family moved from Magnolia Street to 11th Street to be closer to the station. Lee learned at an early age about trusting people or how not to by observing certain customers.

Lee's formal education was cut short by an incident with a teacher at Dick Dowling Middle School. While attending a drafting class in 8th grade a teacher accosted him for whistling in class. Stunned, Lee didn't realize he was causing a problem. He was enjoying the classwork. After some manhandling by the teacher, harsh words, and a whack across his knuckles, Lee left and never returned to school. For many years he applied himself by doing the best he could working for his Dad at Billups. He learned many life lessons from Joe as they faced each new day on the driveway. They met lots of interesting people. Faced the business of dealing with customers and keep their automobiles in working order.

In 1959, while at a skating rink, Lee happened to meet a pretty little blonde, by the name of Nita Sue Dorsey. She was there with a friend whom Lee had once dated. He must have been smitten for a few weeks later he called he and asked if she would like to go play Putt-Putt. Truth be told he said that very night he was going to marry her. Nita warily accepted his invitation not having any idea what Putt-Putt meant. So began one of many dates to follow. Nita was only sixteen and Lee was twenty. Her parents were understandable concerned about the age difference. Also because Lee worked at a service station. But Lee was wise enough to know that he needed to attain more education in order for his life to be more meaningful. He obtained his GED and enrolled at Lamar Institute of Technology. Through a close friend, Lenert W. "Tiny" Tiemann, he was able to take courses for welding and engine repair. Lee soon earned a certificate in diesel mechanics.

Lee left the service station and began working at Oil City Brass Works of Beaumont. Nita Sue graduated from French High School in May 1961 and attended X-Ray school at Baptist Hospital. She became a registered technologist in 1964. Their courtship lasted 6 years as both realized the need for a better life through education and gainful employment.

Nita Sue was one of six children. When her family moved from Hearne, Texas to Beaumont, she too had mixed emotions about city life. However, she made friends quickly and especially enjoyed being in the band. Lee was often seen at noon in the school parking lot in his 1957 Chevrolet and faithfully at football games to watch the marching band perform. His sister, Rhinda, also happened to be in the band. By the time Lee asked Charlie Dorsey for his daughter's had in marriage, they had been going steady for five years. Their engagement was to be a long one for Nita's dad was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. It required delicate surgery and a long recovery process. Lee and Nita both decided to postpone their marriage ceremony until her Dad could walk her down the aisle.

On March 27, 1965 at North End Baptist Church their marriage took place with all eyes on the bride and her dad as he escorted her to the podium where the knee-knocking groom stood. Bro. Weldon Langely was the chaplain at Baptist Hospital and performed the ceremony. After a short honeymoon to Galveston, the couple began their new life together as newlyweds.

Lee was still at OCB Metals and Nita was employed by orthopedists-Shorkey, Gill and Bassel. They made their home at that time on Taylor Street in Beaumont, Texas. After three years their lives were to change. The couple had taken a vacation to Colorado in August of 1967 not knowing at that time that Nita was pregnant with their first child. The job as an X-Ray Technician would come to a close and on April 15, 1968 Lori Denise-a frosted tip blonde-entered their lives. Nita became a stay at home Mom, but the house on Taylor Street was too small for a family. So they purchased a house on Ironton Street that was once owned by Nita’s parents. The first time Lee held Lori he was shaking. But he soon learned all the facets of being a Dad from diaper changes to late night feedings. All the while striving to care for his little family.

Then on September 2, 1971 the little family became larger with the addition al a son, Noel Lee, Jr. His birth gave some concern for a few days as Lee Jr. was placed in an incubator until they said he could go home. Children weren’t allowed in hopsitals back then. So, Lori came to a window one day to see her Mom. Lee brought his wife and some home to the house on Ironton Street.

In 1975 when Lori was in second grade and Lee Jr. was 4 years old, the Soileaus decided to make a change by moving to Lumberton, Texas. Their finances were adequate enough to build a home on Matthews Lane. Lee upgraded his employment as a machinist 1St Class. An older machinist by the name of Ralph Partin had apprenticed Lee and guided his development into a skilled machinist. Lee often said, “Ralph Partin taught me a trade to live by and in the process settled me down too.” Lee loved his craft as an accomplished machinist and never considered it just a job. As their new home was being built, Lee also had a dream of having his own shop. So with his own hands and fortitude, the shop came into being. It was complete with a lathe, milling machine, drill press and many, many other machinist tools. Lee spent numerous days whistling and singing along with his shop radio and 8-track tapes. One of his things to do was to come up with ideas and build them. He built trailers and could machine just about any part he or anyone else needed. There rarely was an engine he couldn’t get running no matter its condition. He loved cars especially Fords. As a young man he bought or traded cars and could always be found working on them. He always helped others fix just about anything. No project was too big or too small-bolts for a sailboat, a box trailer for the Lumberton Band, an Eagle Scout project for a grandson and so many others. There was always something he could find to do in his shop. He was content to enjoy his favorite pastime alone, but was willing to share his interests with others. But his interests were not limited to working on shop projects or old cars. He earned ranks in the martial art of Judo. He enjoyed singing tenor for several years in the Spindletop Men’s Barbershop Chorus. While a member of the group, he sang the Star Spangled Banner and Oh Canada with them at a Houston Astros game in the Astrodome.

Through the years existence on Matthews Lane became a lifetime of wonderful memories. There were family reunions, holidays with family and friends, and times of turmoil during hurricanes. Lee delighted in barbecuing chickens for family get-togethers. He enjoyed watching others open gifts or blow out candles as another year was welcomed. He was always vigilant in making sure family members were safe and out of harm’s way.

In July of 1989 Lee became a father-in law when Lori married Steve Sell. It didn’t take long for this displaced Yankee to win our hearts. The arrival of a grandson, Trenton Andrew, in August 1998 was truly an eventful occurrence. Lee was so excited to become a grandpa and anxious to teach Trenton about the workings of a machine shop. Trenton got his very first Tractor at an early age after many rides in PawPaw’s lap on various vehicles. Many a day was spent banging on something knowing he was helping PawPaw.

After some years at OCB Metals, Lee went to work at Arco Polymers. A strike forced him to find work at Gulfco for a few months. He finished out his Career at UNOCAL where he worked for nine years and retired. While at UNOCAL Lee met Robert Doucet who became his working partner and lifelong friend. He met several people at the plant whom he developed close friendships with notably Bob Allemand and Willis (Ray) Smith. People at UNOCAL were more like a second family. Lee developed more skills in the refinery atmosphere and came to realize the dream of that nine year old boy years earlier had finally come true.

With the closing of the UNOCAL plant in Nederland in 1990, Lee and Nita made the decision to journey to Vacaville, California so he could become vested for his retirement benefits. A plan that, though difficult to make, provided an adventure for them. They made their home in a townhouse apartment at Round Oak Village which was managed by Ken and Barbara Redhair. This couple understood their plight and became friends. Life in California became a mix of going to work each day and sightseeing northern California on the weekends. Lee and Nita considered it as a long awaited honeymoon that lasted 3 ½ years. They toured Napa and Sonoma Valley wineries, gold mines, and whimsical houses. Took trips to Big Bear, red wood forests, San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Sutter’s Mill and Lake Tahoe. They even white water rafted the American River.

Once back in Texas just before Christmas of 1993, life again became adjusted to family gatherings and projects. Never being happy idle he worked during retirement at Triple S and later at Sour Lake Motor Company driving and delivering cars all over Texas and other southern states. That’s where R.E. Herring became a mentor and special person in Lee’s life. They had many long conversations about God and all the goings on in the world, as well as, lots of laughter. Another good friend on the driving trips was Bob Davis. Even after the driving ended the guys would stop by the shop to chat or go out to eat lunch on Tuesdays.

Lee Jr.’s marriage in June of 1998 welcomed a daughter-in law, Kimberley Carpenter. And in February 2001 a granddaughter made her entrance known. Breann Leigh Soileau soon captured PawPaw’s heart and would smile in delight at tractor rides with PawPaw. The advent of granddaughter, Haidyn Noel Soileau in April of 2005 brought more pride to Lee’s heart. By the time she was four years old she let PawPaw know she wanted a pink tractor with purple dots. PawPaw did finally agree to the Pepto Bismol pink tractor, but stopped short of the purple dots.

So continued life on Matthews Lane. Lee diligently toiling in his “den”. MawMaw looking after grandchildren. Our Disney World vacation in 2004 with the Sells was truly exciting. Lee and Nita had never been to Disney World. The accomodations was in Disney’s Wilderness Resort. Free transportation to and from the parks and movies under the stars at night. Then one day in 2005 they decided to purchase a travel trailer and venture beyond Lumberton, Texas more often. Before the purchase vacations often were spent in several bed and breakfast locations. But Lee was more content with hands on tasks. Trips in the RV included visits to several state parks across Texas. One excursion involved taking 10 year old Trenton and 7 year old Breann to Davis Mountain State Park with Rhinda and her husband John, their daughter, Cindy, and her daughter Abby. A trip to Big Bend brought hail stones, buzzards and mysterious Mexicans along the border. Accompanying Lori, Steve and Trenton to Branson on two trips was always fun. Lee enjoyed the country music and comedy routines. Go cart rides with Trenton were challenging and fun. Lee had always wanted to see the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan. So in 2007 with John and Rhinda we hooked up the RV and followed them to Michigan. Lee got to see a huge tractor exhibition in Pena, Illinois. A time surely to be remembered.

Lee could be very quiet at times doodling on a piece of paper or listening to music on his earphones as he sat in front of the television. Not much of a movie watcher, he often would be reading a book or history. These activities occurring mostly in the winter months when any project in the shop was cut short due to cold and rainy days. Sometimes he would be drawing up plans for a future endeavor.

On Tuesdays he enjoyed going out to eat with his driving buddies. His friendship with R.E. Herring continued until R.E.’s death in December 2017. But, he continued the meals with Robert Doucet. When UNOCAL closed Robert and Linda Doucet moved to Bryan, Texas. After 13 years they moved to Lumberton. Lee was thrilled to have his best friend close by again. The foursome often took trips together or just simply enjoyed getting together to enjoy each other’s company.

Lee developed some health problems in the later 1990’s. In 2001 he had open heart surgery to repair his aortic valve with a bovine replacement. He did well and recovered nicely.

He was always delighted when the grandchildren could come over and drive their tractors. As they got older their interests delved more into computers and smart phones. Pawpaw loved his family and often expressed how greatly the Lord had blessed his life. And how the Lord had put special people in his life to guide him and help him through difficult times.

Lee and Nita’s lives matured into varied activities involving their grandchildren. Times at football games watching Trenton march with the Mighty Raider Band, achieving his black belt in Taekwondo, scouting activities and attaining rank of Eagle Scout, and the pride of seeing him become Private First Class Marine. Lots of evenings watching Breann play so precisely at volleyball and then seeing her receive her awards for her diligence at her studies. Many afternoons sitting in lawn chairs watching Haidyn play in soccer games. And her many school play productions where she really excelled. Lee always enjoyed the times spent with his grand-dogs, Belle and Stormy too.

But by 2016 Lee began to suffer flu-like symptoms. Doctors speculated everything from Lyme Disease to West Nile virus as the cause. After struggling through blood transfusions, iron infusions, lengthy hospital stays, pneumonia and congestive heart failure, he was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2017 which is an auto-immune disease. In December 2017 he was diagnosed with two more auto-immune diseases: Vasculitis-Wegener’s Granulomatosis and Lupus Nephritis. His brave battle to survive came to an end on March 3, 2018 at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas at the age of 79 years. He is survived by his loving wife of nearly 53 years, Nita Sue, a daughter, Lori Sell and husband Steve; a son, Noel Lee Soileau, Jr. and wife, Kimberley all of Lumberton Texas. Sister Rhinda Hooper and husband John of Canyon Lake, Texas; a grandson Private First-Class Trenton Sell of the Marines; and two granddaughters, Breann Soileau and Haidyn Soileau; nieces, nephews and a host of close friends.

Family and friends celebrated Lee’s life with a service at First Baptist Church of Lumberton officiated by Bro. Ron Herring and Bro. Kyle Warren at 2 p.m. on March 8, 2018. David Thornhill provided music by voice and on the piano.

Pallbearers were Private First Class Trenton Sell, Robert Doucet, Bob Allemand, Steve Sell, John Hooper, Lynn Snowden, Lenert Tiemann and Willis Smith.

Lee was laid to rest in the Garden of Hope at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont, Texas.

Everyone whose life he touched will fondly remember Noel Lee (Buster) Soileau, Sr. He will be truly missed.