Services will be live-streamed and may be viewed by clicking the link below:
Earlene (Conner) Van Winkle was born January 3, 1933 in the piney woods of East Texas to Earl Wheeler Conner and Annie Lee (Oliver) Conner. She entered heaven, her eternal home, March 22, 2022. She was the oldest of three girls and loved her sisters, Annese Dyer and Winfred Nell Jones very much. She started school at a young age by going with her Aunt Addie Mae who was a teacher. By age sixteen, she had graduated from Kennard High School and set off for Elliott’s Business School in Houston, Texas. Afterwards she moved with her family to New Mexico and began working at Portales National Bank. During that time, she met and married the love of her life, Wayne (Pete) Van Winkle October 10, 1953. They began married life in Carlsbad, New Mexico with Earlene working at Carlsbad National Bank until she became a busy, competent stay-at-home mom after giving birth to two daughters, Waynta Ann and Pamela Dawn.
Earlene was a whiz at organizing and juggling the many facets of family life. She was an active member of First Baptist Church wearing many hats during the years such as: Sunday School teacher, Sword Drill leader, librarian, choir member, Vacation Bible School volunteer, sewing class mentor, etc. She took piano lessons with her daughters and through sheer determination became accomplished enough to play beloved hymns of her faith. Many very special memories of hers were made hosting and supporting the FBC youth group in their home and as chaperone on youth mission trips. The family is amazed looking back at all the activities she managed to lead her family through, as well as sewing almost their entire wardrobe. She was an accomplished seamstress and created many costumes, formal dresses, as well as everything the girls dreamed up. Filling the void of the empty nest when Waynta and Pam went to college, she and Pete began square dancing and, of course she made their beautiful matching outfits. They met new and old friends traveling with square dance events and celebrated with a large group of close friends through playing with a 42 Group, Birthday Club and a Sunday night old time singing group. Earlene had a knack for rising to meet the needs of any occasion, often providing meals for special events and grieving families.
Seeing the beauty God created on Earth brought great pleasure to Earlene so she saw daughter Pam and Rocky’s various moves as travel opportunities to explore the East Coast, Europe, and even flew to the United Arab Emirates one Christmas. She traveled on many senior trips, often with her mother. She was also known as being a snappy dresser as she always had the matching hat, purse, shoes and jewelry to go with every outfit.
The world through Earlene’s eyes increased in love and fascination once she became a grandparent to Sarah, Jaime, Jessica and Justin. She often told others, “They (grandchildren) really are grand, aren’t they?” She and Pete treated the grands to campouts and very memorable road trips forming strong foundations for their young lives. Her influence had a lasting impact on each of their lives as her love for God was practiced and lived out clearly.
Earlene is survived by her husband of almost 69 years, Wayne Van Winkle, sisters Annese (John) Dyer and Winfred Jones, children Waynta (Paul) Wirth, Pam (Rocky) Johnson, grandchildren Sarah (John) Calaway, Jaime (Shane) Grubbs, Jessica (Roshenka) Jayawardhana, Justin (Jacki) Johnson, great grandchildren Cohen Calaway, Cora Calaway, Evelyn Grubbs, Elliana Jayawardhana, Lucas Grubbs, Eliza Jayawardhana, Addie Cooper , Ben Cooper and Baby Charlotte Dawn Johnson whom we expect to be born within the next month or so. There are numerous cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces much loved by Earlene.
The family is eternally grateful to so many loved ones who tenderly cared for Earlene in her final years. Son-in-law, Rocky Johnson made no distinction between relative and blood relative welcoming Earlene into the family home, caring for her, and involving the entire Johnson clan in the process. We, the
family, have been blessed by you all. Special gratitude goes to the staff of Heartfelt Manor and Kindred Hospice for outstanding support.
The life of Earlene will be celebrated Thursday, March 31, 2022, with visitation from 10:00 -12:00 at Denton-Wood Funeral Home followed by a service at First Baptist Church, Carlsbad, NM at 2:00 pm and then burial at Sunset Gardens Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, be encouraged to support ministries like she did including The Gideons, Samaritan’s Purse, NM Baptist Children’s Home, Wycliff Bible translators, Cancer Society, FBC library to name a few.