Dena Dunagan was a profound presence in our lives! Ethel Gleyndena Meeks was born July 2, 1940 in Austin, Texas, to Erin Wensted (Pappy) Meeks and Nannie Pearl (Kyle) Meeks. Her father was an orderly in the hospital when she was born and named her Ethel after a “red headed” nurse. She really hated that name! Pappy went to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad in the mid-40’s in Sanderson, Texas. In 1950, her mother passed away and “Dena” moved to Marathon, Texas, where she had family. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Dielsie took her in and raised her as their daughter. Mrs. Eddie Jo Dielsie was her first cousin.
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Dena graduated from Marathon High School in 1958 as valedictorian of her class of 5 boys and 1 girl. She then started college at Sul Ross in Alpine, Texas where she was reacquainted with a childhood “playmate” from Sanderson, Paul Dunagan. Paul and Dena were married April 22, 1959, while Paul was home on leave from the U.S. Navy. She later joined him in Bremerton, Washington, where their first son, Douglas, was born. After that duty station, Paul was assigned to sea duty out of Long Beach, California. Their second son, D’Wayne was born in Alpine, Texas, while Paul was serving in the Pacific Fleet off the coast of Viet Nam.
After Paul’s discharge in January 1963, he was employed with GTE in Long Beach, California. On July 2, 1968 (Dena’s birthday) they transferred to GTE Southwest in San Angelo, Texas. Their 3rd son, Cody, was born in 1972. She had been a resident of the Wall and Veribest, Texas, communities until her death on July 2, 2020, her 80th birthday.
Since moving to the Wall-Veribest communities, she has been active in the Veribest United Methodist Church. She loved being in church; she loved church music and old gospel songs. She helped the Veribest Quilters create beautiful for many people throughout the community. Dena was an officer and member of the United Methodist Women; she attended and taught Sunday School, Bible Studies and Prayer Meetings. She organized and helped with Vacation Bible School and also helped Pastors and teachers with a “Backyard Bible School” once a week. She helped organize and packing School Supplies for needy students through the Helping Hands Programs. Dena has served as an officer on the church council and participated in District and Annual Conference meetings. One such year, after the tornado of 1995, she worked with Shirley Payton through UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) to help tornado victims in the Veribest area. One of those was a member of the Veribest church and Dena specifically worked to organize and rebuild a home for that individual.
Dena is survived by her husband, Paul; son Douglas and wife Renee; son Cody and wife Connie; grandchildren, Carah Dunagan, Justin Douglas and wife Amy; Courtney and husband Simon Henrickson, Angela Dunagan, Shawn Dunagan and Liam Dunagan. Great-grandchildren include Mason, Logan, Makenna, Bryce, and Brylee. Dena was preceded in death by her son D’Wayne Dunagan.
A memorial service will be held July 9 at the Veribest Methodist church with family only in attendance at 10 AM. Service will be recorded on Facebook Live by Pastor Mike Thomson.
Interment will be in Marathon, Texas A Sun Set grave side service July 18 th at 8:20 PM her favorite time of day to watch the sun set.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Veribest United Methodist Church, PO Box 572, Veribest, TX 76886. Or your favorite charity.