November 25, 1928 - May 17, 2022
Emma Lou Henderson Symonds passed away peacefully, at home, on May 17, 2022. Emma Lou was born in 1928 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Her family relocated to Los Angeles where she graduated from University High School. She returned to Stillwater to attend Oklahoma A&M College, graduating magna cum laude, majoring in Spanish. She was a member of the academic fraternity Mortar Board. She moved to Oklahoma City to work as a representative of the Oklahoma Tuberculosis Association. She traveled throughout the state, speaking to local groups and providing educational materials. When she returned home at the end of each week, she would get her car filled up at a local service station, owned by her future husband, Charles “Sy” Symonds. They married in August 1956, and moved to Dallas in 1957. A beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, cousin and friend, she was predeceased by her parents and only sibling Edna Mae Henderson.
Emma Lou was a lady of many talents. She was adventurous, energetic, positive, and had a can-do spirit. She liked learning new things, meeting new people, and hosting family and friends, including international students, in her home. She loved to dance and travel. Together, she and Sy traveled to many places in the USA, Europe and China. She even rode in the 1986 Texas Sesquicentennial Wagon Train. Above all, she valued time spent with family. She stayed in touch with her many aunts, uncles and cousins and maintained friendships going as far back as her own elementary school days. She inspired by example, keeping her promises and agreements. She encouraged others and lifted their spirits.
Emma Lou was the consummate homemaker. She grew up eating most meals in her dad’s restaurants, so she had to teach herself how to cook after she married. She rose to the challenge, becoming known for her homemade pies and creative family dinners. She learned from Sy’s mother that there are so many ordinary days in the year, that a mother needs to celebrate every special day in a grand way. She decorated for every holiday, sewed beautifully, kept an immaculate house, and reared her children enthusiastically while Sy traveled for his business. She was a great supportive partner, taking phone orders from his customers, knowing their names, voices and the full product line.
Emma Lou was involved in many activities, including school and community organizations. She was a longtime member of University Park United Methodist Church. She served as a Camp Fire Girls leader, region advisor for Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, and member of Dallas Council on World Affairs and the Park Cities Republican Women. She was active in HPISD schools, serving lunches, being room mother, and attending countless assemblies, recitals, picnics, carnivals, sporting events and Grandfriends Days. She encouraged her daughters and grandchildren in every interest they had (dance, music, crafts, cooking, sports, Scouting) and facilitated all kinds of creative play from the time they were very young. Her greatest joy and passion were her husband Sy and children, all of whom survive her: Christy Williams (Blake), Cathey Hand (Charlie) and Cha-Cha Bjork (Jon); and her grandchildren Jack Bjork (Ansley Joy), Chandler Wright (Landon) and Christian Williams.
For the last few years, Emma Lou lived with the challenges of dementia but retained her friendly persona, natural curiosity, and love of family gatherings. Her family sincerely thanks her caregivers Linda Mapesa, Fridah Mbendo, Irene Steel and Thresella Sampson who have been so dedicated to her, over the past 3 years.
A memorial service will be held at University Park United Methodist Church on Friday, June 10, 2022, at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations in Emma Lou’s name can be made to FreedomsFoundation.org/support/donations/