Essie Denmon, the oldest of five children, was born May 30, 1937 to the late David and Beulah Lee Short in Smithville, Texas. Essie accepted Christ at an early age and joined Live Oak Grove Baptist Church in Smithville. She attended Mary A. Brown School. Essie was a very good student in all her subjects, and participated in the school marching drill team.
In 1954, Essie married Donald “Duck” Powell. To this union one daughter was born Sharon Yvonne Powell. Also, at this time her journey began as a U.S. Navy wife. In 1962 Essie joined Russell Wagner in marriage and to this union one daughter, Anissa Deidre “Dede” Wagner was born.
Russell’s job would frequently relocate he and Essie from city to city. There she would make friends and they would enjoy domino and card parties. She even learned how to make pottery from clay by molding it with her hands and then baking it in a kiln. She would then glaze her creation and later proudly display it in her home. Russell rode a motorcycle, and since he would not teach her how to ride one, she taught herself by reading a manual. The first motorcycle she learned to ride was a Triumph. She eventually joined a motorcycle club after another relocation, this time to Sweetwater, Texas.
After moving back to Smithville, Essie decided to put her entrepreneurial skills to work. She taught herself how to barbecue. And eventually, opened her own barbecue place at the West End Park. She used to joke about how much meat she burned before she mastered her barbecuing skills. It has been rumored that it was some of the best barbecue in town.
Essie later reconnected with and married her high school sweetheart, Clarence Denmon. She acquired two step-daughters in the process. During that period, she became employed by The State of Texas, and would remain so for many years. Initially, she worked for Austin State School in Austin, Texas, and eventually retiring from Giddings State School in Giddings, Texas.
Essie was a smart, kind-hearted and generous person. Her heart and home were always open. Always willing to bail you out if you needed help, with no expectations in return. She didn’t have much in material value but have been known to give her last.
In her early years Essie enjoyed fishing with her family. Anyone that knew her also knew that she loved to travel. At a moment’s notice, at any time of the day or night, she would pack and drive to Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, or wherever her spirit moved her while listening to her old school CD’s.
She enjoyed her time helping to care for her great-grandson, Joshua Bates. She loved telling him stories from the past, even if she sometimes repeated the same story over and over again. She loved watching his performances and was always so proud of him. Essie was a fierce leader, independent, and quick-witted. She was full of wisdom and always spoke her mind. She would give her honest opinion even when you didn’t want to hear it, and sometimes when you didn’t ask for it. She unapologetically, marched to the beat of her own drum.
Essie later became a member of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. It was her faith in God that kept her strong and grounded. Her faith never wavered. She is preceded in death by her parents David and Beulah Short, her brother David Short Jr., and sister Marion Short. Essie leaves to cherish her memories two daughters, Sharon Yvonne Powell-Bates, Pearland, TX and Anissa Deidre Wagner, Del Valle, TX. Three grandsons: Shannon Bates (Bridget) Houston, TX, Shawn Bates (Ebony) Houston, TX,
and Sterling Bates (Paula) Rosharon, TX. Four great grandsons: Joshua Bates, Jesiah Bates, Jace Bates, and Cyrus Bernard. Two sisters: Ethel Brewster Ponson (Joseph), and Jenell Culberson, sister-in-law Lola Short, aunt Doris Jackson, uncle Ed Calton,
and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
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