The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
For the first time in his 40 years, Bernard “Bun B” Freeman was at a loss for words.
“At times like these, people expect me to get up here and say a bunch of big words,” said Freeman, one half of the hip-hop/rap duo Underground Kingz, or UGK . “But I have finally come to the moment where I have no words. I couldn’t think of any poem, any book, any television show, any song I’ve heard, any movie I’ve ever been to, to really describe what kind of person Mama was.”
“Mama” was Weslyn “Mama Wes” Monroe, mother of UGK’s other half — the late Port Arthur rapper Chad “Pimp C” Butler, who died in 2007 at age 33 — and former English teacher and librarian at Stephen F. Austin High School. Monroe died Aug. 18 at age 66, after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.
Although Monroe’s funeral was held Friday at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur, her influence spread far beyond the Golden Triangle. Friday’s crowd included rapper Webbie, Rap-a-Lot Records CEO J Prince, and former National Basketball Association player Stephen Jackson, a Port Arthur native.
“She’s way bigger than what’s in here,” said MC Wickett Crickett, a New York-born, Houston-based hip-hop artist who gave the closing prayer. “A lot of them couldn’t get here, but they’re here in spirit. She was nationwide.”
Monroe earned the affectionate nickname “Mama Wes” by acting as a second mother to numerous hip-hop artists and rappers over the years.
“We took her living room and made it a lounge,” Freeman said. “We took her kitchen and made it a cafeteria. We took her life and made her our manager.”
Freeman’s mother, Esther Taylor, said her worries about her son were greatly diminished knowing that he was in Monroe’s capable hands.
“She took them all in like they were hers,” Taylor said. “I loved her for that.”
The Rev. John Morgan, senior pastor at United Christian Fellowship Church in Port Neches where Monroe was a member, spoke of Monroe’s zest for life and love for everyone she encountered.
“The Wes I knew was fun,” Morgan said. “She was as crazy in church as y’all knew her anywhere else. She enjoyed life, and she had this incredible faith.”
Of the hundreds of eulogies he has had to deliver, Morgan said, this one was by far the most difficult. But he was comforted by the fact that Monroe is no longer in pain.
“No more pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering — and we’re not going to get on her nerves anymore,” Morgan said.
All of the speakers seemed to reach a general consensus — there will never be another “Mama Wes.”
“There isn’t a single person in here, nor the collective of us, that can ever be who Wes was,” Freeman said. “But I’m going to tell y’all something — you damn sure better try.”