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Levingston leaves lasting impression on area

When friends talk about Joel Levingston they remember his kindness, devotion to family and his being a true gentleman.

Levingston, 85, founder of Levingston Funeral Home, died Feb. 26.

A Port Arthur native, Levingston was a rancher, funeral director, husband, father and grandfather. He stayed in the area for almost his entire life with the exception of his time in college and the military, according to his obituary information.

Local attorney Terry Doyle knew Levingston for almost 60 years.

“I don’t know a person who can say an unkind work about him,” Doyle said. “He was nothing but a gentleman.”

Jon Hampton, longtime friend and businessman, called t an honor and privilege to have shared a friendship that has spanned over 40 years.

“Joel was a man of great integrity and boundless energy. He was involved in numerous civic and social endeavors, always happy to help those in need,” Hampton said. “Through Portia’s and Joel’s hard work they were able to build a very successful family business and a thriving ranch. However, his family is always the first priority.”

Hampton said he has great memories of the many trips the two shared that will never be forgotten.

“He’ll always have a special place in our hearts,” he said. “Joel was a better than good man.”

An online guestbook showed numerous entries from people across the area and U.S., sending condenses to the family and sharing memories. Bill Wells of Nederland said, “no doubt I am a better man for having known and served our community together with him. Particularly, service to our veterans. Joel walked the walk and was one of the most kind hearted I’ve ever encountered. While I share the grief for this brief loss of company, I celebrate that this great man lived and had such a positive influence to those he so graciously served. Til we meet again my friend.”

Alletta and Bruce Thompson, owners of Bruce’s Market Basket, also sent condolences via the guestbook.

“A man to remember as an example of Christian love and service to his peers. He leaves a host of kind and gentle ways behind and his legacy to our community. May God wrap his arms around you and give you peace,” the Thompson’s said.

Levingston was a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School and attended Landig Mortuary College in Houston where he received his degree in mortuary science. He held both a Texas Funeral Director’s and Texas Embalmer’s license. Levingston also served in the US Army during the Korean Conflict as head of a Graces Registration Lab.

He returned to the area in 1955 and established his business and married his sweetheart, Portia Smith. Together they built the funeral home. Their children, Kathy and Jay now run the business.

Levingston also dedicated much of his life to community service. He was named business person of the year twice by Groves Jaycees, funeral director of the year by Texas Funeral Director’s Association and more.

He was a member and past president of Groves Rotary Club, member and past president of Groves Chamber of Commerce, Groves Masonic Lodge No. 1315, member and past president of El Mina Shrine, past president and member of Bachelor’s Club and past chief of Cavoilcade Commodores.

He was also a member of The Methodist Temple where he served on different boards and committees as well as serving as an usher. He served on boards of First Bank and Trust, Doctor’s Hospital and Groves Senior Citizens Center.

Levingston also served as commissioner for Drainage District No. 7 for eight years, which time the levee protecting our area, was built. He also served on Drainage District No. 3 for 20 years, among other organizations.

He was buried Thursday.