James E. "Jimmy" Booker
Photo No. 2494
Jimmy Edward Booker, 87, entered heaven January 29 from Baptist Hospital Beaumont. He was a one-of-a-kind man who was deeply loved by his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and countless friends.
Born April 28, 1933 Hemphill, Texas, Jimmy grew up in Beaumont's South Park neighborhood, passing his teenage summers by building houses with his Dad. This hands-on experience served him well, as he built and sold homes to pay his way thru college. It was that work-ethic cultivated in the Southeast Texas humidity which pushed him to pursue two engineering degrees from Lamar University. Jimmy was very active in Student Government and other campus organizations at Lamar, as well as being founding member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. As fate would have it, he met the love of his life, Merle Merritt Booker, at the Sig Ep Founding Installation Dance at Lamar. They were happily married and spent over 60 blessed years together loving life and each other.
Jimmy enjoyed a lifelong career with Gulf State Utilities/Entergy. He was the project manager for GSU's River Bend Nuclear Plant, from its inception through site selection, building stage and start up to after completion. He spent much time in Washington DC working with Nuclear Regulatory Commission obtaining all permitting for River Bend. After retiring, he became a nuclear safety consultant in the nuclear industry with clients across America.
While working and always planning his next venture, Jimmy helped his wife, Merle, build a career in antiquing and opened "Yesteryear" in the Green Beanery and later on Calder. Together they traveled the states and the world looking for antique treasures. He was her fix-it man, her paperwork man, and enjoyed setting up her booth at the finest of antique shows across Texas and the south, where they cultivated devoted customers and lifelong friends. After they retired from the antique business, Jimmy became the biggest cheerleader for his daughter's YoungLife Estate Sale ministry and was a most valued member of the YL team. His precious spirit will be greatly missed.
Jimmy, affectionately dubbed the 'energizer bunny' by his daughter Sherrie, never slowed down. Within an hour of bringing him home from a lengthy hospital stay in 2018, she started receiving texts and photos of him in a campaign t-shirt, sitting at Rogers Park waving an election sign for his son-in-law Jeff! Throughout the years, Jimmy volunteered tirelessly in many different roles within the body of First United Methodist Church of Beaumont, where he and Merle were proud members for more than 60 years, leading their entire family to find Christ. He served as Lay Leader and Trustee Chair too many years to even count! Along with Merle, they started FUMC Estate Sales as a ministry of the church and loved working on those for many years. One of the characteristics that his family most loved was his desire, even in his senior years, to support, encourage and fund programs and ministries for children and youth. He was always looking for opportunities to bring young families into First Church. Jimmy's discipleship was unconventional but intentional, always trying to do what was best for the church.
Along with FUMC, Jimmy devoted his time and effort to his beloved Lamar University. He actively served on the College of Engineering Advisory Council and The Industrial Engineering Advisory Council. In the Cardinal Club he served as Secretary and Vice President for Membership and was an active member up until his heavenly departure. Jimmy was one of the longest serving members of the Lamar University Foundation, from 1998-2017, where he chaired the Audit Committee, the Trustee & Governance Committee and was Foundation Treasurer. The pride he displayed for Lamar University could not be masked, not even through a global pandemic. He had season 50-yard line football seats, center court basketball tickets, and loved a good Lamar baseball game. He was a fan of both the girls and boys teams. He and Merle both loved Lamar's Fine Arts, and supported them through scholarships, La Grand Bal and Wine Parings. They loved attending art openings and visiting with young and old. Not a musically-inclined man, he couldn't muster a hymn in church but Jimmy would proudly sing the Lamar Alma Mater every time. He inspired his children and grandchildren to attend LU, sparking a pride that will carry into future generations.
Busy was Jimmy's constant state of being (unless napping) but the man was most active in his family's life. He and Merle shared their love of traveling with their children from an early age, driving across America on the most amazing road trips every summer. He continued this tradition with all his grandchildren (adding air transportation and even letting their parents tag along)! These once-in-a-lifetime adventures have filled our hearts with incredible memories. Jimmy and Merle's love of traveling took them on fabulous trips all over the world with many dear friends and extended family. They set the bar high for the rest of us.
He was a loyal and devoted father, always supporting his family, his children and grandchildren. His 'family-first' attitude fostered a great environment that will be cherished. His favorite place was to be gathered around a table or on a grand adventure with all his family. And he always had dessert!
He was a man who was determined to repair everything, only unable to fix his family's broken heart after his earthly exit. They rest well knowing he is reunited with sweet souls in Heaven, and because of their faith in our loving God, will be with him again one day.
Jimmy is preceded in death by his parents, Elijah and Zelma Booker; loving wife, Merle Anne Booker; daughter, Cynthia Booker West; sister, Margie Booker Gray; and brother, E.J. Booker, Sr.
He is survived by his children, Sherrie Booker Branick and husband Jeff of Port Neches and Bryan Merritt Booker and wife Anita of Dallas; son in law, Roy Pennell West and wife Trisha of Beaumont; grandchildren, Whitney West Stiles and husband Zach, Evan Park West and wife Krista, Merritt Branick, Claire Booker, and Ellie Grace Branick; great-grandchildren, Everlee Cynthia Stiles, Buffalo Stiles, Jackson James, Branick James, Saddler Stiles, Hazel West, and Hadley Puig; bonus grandchildren, Morgan Greenway, Madison McClain, and Meredith McClain; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Serving the proud position as pallbearers will be Evan West, Zach Stiles, Jerome Booker, Bryan Booker, Jeff Branick, and Roy West.
In honor of Jimmy's love for Lamar & his Church, in lieu of flowers, please consider memorial contributions to Jimmy E. Booker engineering scholarships at Lamar University Foundation P.O.Box 11500 Beaumont 77710 or First United Methodist Church of Beaumont. 701 Calder Avenue Beaumont 77701
The family would like to give a special thanks to Sherry Martin who took excellent care of Jimmy and made him laugh. This is not goodbye -- it's just "see you later sweet Jimmy."