Born in 1921, July 23rd will mark the 100th birthday of Devine’s Sylvia Belmear (Sebelle). She was the daughter of Alvin and Hazel Brown from San Benito, Texas, and the second oldest of four girls: Hazel, Marie, and Darlene. The family moved to the Wallace community (Van Zandt county west of Canton) when Sebelle was seven years old where they farmed cotton and corn.
While living there, the family experienced the terrible depression of the early 30s. Sebelle said that it was a very rough time for the farmers because they couldn’t borrow money for farming as the banks were closed during the depression. When telling her story, Sebelle recalled that her mother had to make their clothing from flour sacks. And, she shares, “We all had one pair of shoes for the school year, and if they went bad, we had to go barefoot to school.”
Perhaps the hard times were softened by the fact that the family always went to church. Sebelle relates that the entire family would “load up and go in our wagon, which was our only transportation during that time.”
Then, in 1940 and during the war, Sebelle worked in a bank in Dallas. At the age of 21, she married George Laprade and they remained married for 39 years until his death. George was in the military, and when the war was over, he went to GI school and obtained a job in insurance.
By this time, Sebelle and George had moved to San Antonio, and she worked for the Baptist Hospital for 11 years. When George was transferred with his job to Tyler, Texas, Sebelle went to work at the East Texas Medical Center, where she remained for 20 years.
Sebelle retired in 1985 and in that year married her second husband, Sy Belmear. The two moved to Duncanville, Texas, which was Sy’s home. Sebelle recalls many good times the two of them enjoyed while traveling until Sy’s death after 18 years of marriage.
In 2007, Sebelle moved to Devine where she currently lives and enjoys fellowship at the Bethel Assembly of God Church. She remains very active and gives God the credit and glory for her good life.
The family is so thankful that their Aunt Sebelle moved to Devine. Rhonda Levy says, “Because Aunt Sebelle had no children, we all became her children.” Sebelle is the aunt of the late Beverly Jean Roberts and great aunt of Rhonda Levy. Beverly’s mother was Hazel Lorene Conrad, Sebelle’s oldest sister. Remaining local nieces are Cynthia Hanna and Evelyn WeWe, all descendants from Beverly’s mom, Hazel Lorene. Sebelle has other nieces and nephews that are descendants from other sisters, including those not local: Cindy Shindoll, Natha Holliday, Sherry Mckay, Randy Shindoll, and the late Michael Mckay. She has many great nieces and nephews who love her. Sebelle currently lives with her great nephew, Bobby WeWe (son to Evelyn, Beverly’s sister) and his wife, Mary Jane.
On behalf of the family, Rhonda Levy says, “We all love you very much and can’t wait to celebrate your 100th birthday with you this week!”