LaVerne, born Claudia LaVerne Stowers on March 4, 1923, daughter of Fred and Emma Stowers, died Feb. 5, 2020, at the age of 96 in Colorado Springs, CO. LaVerne was preceded in death by her first husband and father of her two sons, John Thomas “Tom” Hilton, Sr., in 1995. She was also preceded in death by her second husband, Robert Charles Whitson, Sr., in 2019.
LaVerne was born in Achille, Okla., where she grew up in a family of nine children, of which she was the youngest and last surviving sibling. She married Tom Hilton, Sr., in Durant, Okla., in 1942. They raised two sons, John Thomas “Tom” Hilton, Jr., and Barry Kent Hilton, in Denison, where she was an involved member of First Baptist Church and its choir for 54 years. LaVerne was instrumental with the First Baptist Church of Denison in sponsoring the Tu family from Vietnam, and relocating them to Denison. The Tu family remained close to her throughout her life. Later in life in 2001, LaVerne married Robert Charles Whitson, Sr., in Scurry, where she became a member of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church for the following 19 years. Tom and Robert both served honorably in Word War II and interestingly, LaVerne, Tom, and Robert were all classmates at Achille High School.
As a young lady, LaVerne played state finals basketball and participated in the state finals singing competition. In 1997, she was honored at the Oklahoma state high school basketball championships as a Pioneer of Women’s Basketball. She was an accomplished seamstress and depended on her trusty Singer machine. She was also ready for any domino competition wherever it might be found.
LaVerne was a devoted Christian and loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and a friend to all who had the privilege to know her. LaVerne was very thankful for the many church friends she made in both Denison and Scurry. She was warm, friendly, and particularly adored for her infectious laugh, never-ending stories, and delicious southern cooking. She is loved and will be missed by all.
Surviving in addition to her two sons are Tom Jr.’s wife, Melanie; Barry’s wife, Sherry; grandchildren Jessica Hilton, Lindsey Ladrow and her husband Andy, Emily Hansen and her husband Adam, Haley Ostrander and her husband Kyle, and Hunter Hilton. Also surviving are her five great-grandchildren, Jack, Sam, and Katie Ladrow, and Tommy and Allie Hansen.
She is also survived by the Whitson family, including Robert’s six children, Sue, Robert Jr. (Beth), Mary (Bob), John (Lydia), Robbie (Darrell), and Martha, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. LaVerne loved the Whitson family as her own and they reciprocated in abundance.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Bratcher Funeral Home Chapel, 401 W. Woodard in Denison, followed by a graveside service at Cedarlawn Memorial Park in Sherman. The family will be present at the funeral home by 10:15 a.m. and welcomes any visitors.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her name would be welcomed by the Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Scurry, the First Baptist Church of Denison, or any Veterans’ charity.