The Durant Police Department is mourning the loss of its longtime volunteer chaplain, LaWanda “Chappy” Mabery, who died Sunday at her home in Durant.
“Chappy” began her volunteer work as chaplain in December 1997 ministering to officers of the Durant Police Department as well as other departments in Oklahoma, and even in other states. She continued to minister to DPD up until her passing Sunday evening. Durant Police Chief Durward Cook said the department is grieving her loss with her family.
“We feel as if we were a part of her extended family,” Cook said. “The department will miss her support and guidance. She made us feel special and reminded us of the reasons we serve through her own service”
Last year, Mabery, 81, was diagnosed with leukemia and made the decision to forego therapy even though doctors told her it would shorten her life.
“Everyone wants quality of life, not quantity,” she told Democrat freelance writer Richard Chase for an article published last October. “God is in control and my fate is now in His hands.”
She was called upon many times to deliver death messages to residents who had lost someone in other communities. Other times she was called to assist an officer where the presence of a woman was more appropriate. Judy Stephens, an Achille teacher, found a toddler walking down East Main Street. She called the police department and Chappy came to the scene, and held the youngster until the family could be located. In addition to ministering to law enforcement officers on several occasions, she would be available for inmates or their families who requested spiritual guidance.
Mabery received her basic certification through the International Conference of Police Chaplains. She was a member of the Oklahoma Women in Law Enforcement and past Secretary-Treasurer of the Oklahoma Police Chaplain’s Association. In 2000 she received the Chaplain of the Year Award by Oklahoma Baptists, and then in 2003, she was presented the award for Excellency in Chaplaincy from the Southeast Central Region of ICPC. She has also served as a Chaplain for the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Team.
A celebration of Chappy’s life will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 12 at the First Baptist Church in Durant.