Lena May Mercer was called to be with our Heavenly Father on Sunday, August 6, 2023 after a long battle with Dementia. She was known to her family and friends as Lena May, Lena Horne, and Granny. She was born on Friday, June 20, 1952 at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas.
Her mother Sis. Stella Crayton (known to many as Mother and Maw Maw) proceeded her in death along with the love of her life, her husband Emanuel “Lee” Mercer, her twin baby brother, Bobby Ray Crayton, her beloved brother Deacon Claude “Sugarman” Crayton, her aunts Mattie and Lena Elgin, Rosie L. Reed, and Uncle James Elgin.
She is survived by her 2 daughters: Anisa “Princess” Ainsworth (Derrell) of San Antonio, Texas, Leah L. Baxter (Samuel) of Buda, Texas. Her stepchildren, Lisa M. McDuffy of San Diego, California; Tammie M. Jeter of San Diego, California, Jerry C. Mercer (Janice) of Leander, Texas; and Jeff C. Mercer of San Diego, California; Her grandchildren, Darius, Kiara, and Keturah Ainsworth, and great-grandchildren, Carter Myers and Aubree Ainsworth.
4 sisters: Violet Smith, Mary Burton, Clara Cobble of Austin, Texas and Zora Walker of Las Vegas, Nevada. 2 brothers: Arvy Crayton (Alma) and Ernest Crayton, Sr. Her stepsister, Gwen Williams and stepbrother, Lawrence Piper all of Austin, Texas. She also leaves behind a host of nieces, nephews and dear friends in which she truly adored and held very special bonds.
Education-Lena attended Austin public schools: Oak Springs Elementary near the infamous Booker T. Washington Projects, Austin High School and “Old Anderson.” High School. After she graduated, she worked at Brackenridge Hospital in the food service department. One of the funniest experiences Lena had working at Brackenridge was the time when country legend and music sensation, Willie Nelson was her patient. Lena later worked for the State of Texas in the Texas Department of Insurance for 20 years. She retired in 2006 to be a full-time caretaker for her husband until 2008. In 2009, Lena took her daughter Leah’s advice about serving as a positive vessel and motivating force to young people. She worked as a district substitute teacher in Del Valle, Texas. It didn’t take long for students to warm up to Lena. She was nicknamed “Mama Mercer” throughout the school district.
Spiritual Influence-Lena started her Christian journey at an early age attending church with her Mother, Sis. Stella Crayton. She had a loving, humble, and strong Mother to assist throughout her Christian journey. She paid close attention to how the elders of the church bear witnessed in the House of the Lord. She also studied how her Mother prayed continuously. Lena discovered the power of prayer by going into the “secret closet” the “war room” to have a little talk with Jesus. As a virtuous woman of Christ, Lena accumulated many friends, life acquaintances, and “prayer partners.” One of her favorite sayings would be “Can’t NOBODY do me like Jesus.” “Can’t NOBODY do me like the Lord because he is my PROTECTOR, the Alpha and Omega.”
On Sunday morning, you can find Lena worshipping at home starting at 5am, getting prepared for church service while cooking breakfast (homestyle seasoned hash browns, pancakes with lots of butter and Aunt Jemima syrup, sausage/turkey patties, scrambled eggs, buttermilk biscuits (grape jelly only), milk and coffee).
Lena would wake everyone up and give a few warnings included with “old school” references if you didn’t wake up the first time. Lena attended New Light Ebenezer Baptist Church. She was adamant about getting dressed up for Jesus. Lena loved her church hats, accessories, and red lipstick.
She was a choir member and a dedicated Deaconess. Her spirit in the church was affectious. She wasn’t ashamed to bear witness nor stand up, shout, and clap her hands. If you sit next to her, you might literally catch the holy spirit by default. Lena loved to worship. However, there was an expiration time to when she was ready to exit left and eat. She would often lean over and whisper to her son-in-law and/or daughters and say “
Lena worshipped and praised God driving to work and pretty much anywhere 7 days a week. She believed “you don’t have to wait until Sunday morning to get your praise on.” She had a close bond and relationship with her 2 daughters, Anisa (aka Niecy; aka Princess) and Leah (aka Noonie; aka Babygirl). Lena trained and unapologetically raised her daughters to be independent, have strong will, stay persistent, be fearless, stay humble and kind, and always keep God first above all.
All About Family-Lena spoke to her twin brother, Bobby every morning before his death. They had a relationship modeling on the epitome of unconditional love. Lena often attended her brother, Emeritus Pastor Arvy Crayton’s church, Unity Hill. Her and brother Arvy would stay on the phone for countless hours talking about Jesus. Lena supported many church services and St. John association programs with family. She loved visiting, supporting, and loving on her brothers and sisters, Arvy, Ernest, Sugarman, Bobby, Violet, May, Clara, and Zora. Lena enjoyed keeping her grandchildren, Darius, Keturah, and Kiara and great-grandchildren, Carter and Aubree during the summer. She enjoyed being present at all family events/graduations/get togethers. Lena was the life of the party. Her signature moves were always visible on the dance floor.
Lena’s interactions and bonds with her nieces and nephews were on a whole different level. She made you feel loved, empowered, equipped with wisdom, and filled with lots of laughter and sass. She was their “Lena May.” Lena’s close friends were like family. She believed in phone calls (no texts) and good ole fashion face-to-face talks with her family and friends.
Lena was an amazing cook. She loved cooking from scratch on the weekends, holidays and for potluck events. Her favorite homemade dishes were: turkey and dressing, baked chicken with sauteed vegetables, meat loaf, potato salad, chicken enchilada casserole, broccoli and cheese casserole, salmon crocket, mac & cheese, peach cobbler, sweet potato pie, 7 up cake, avocado dip, tuna dip, Jello (yes, the old school way) and Frito pie. When not cooking, Lena enjoyed her favorite restaurants: Abuelo’s, Dan’s Hamburgers, Cheddars, Pappadeaux, Golden Corral, Catfish Parlor, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Luby’s. She had sweet cravings for Longhorn chocolates, white Chocolate mocha from Starbucks, Tiff’s Treats, Bahama Bucks shaved ice, and Chick-fil-A ice cream. She loved the Big Breakfast with pancakes at McDonalds and Whataburger Breakfast on a bun.
Lena loved all genres of music. She was an avid live band/concert/festival/Broadway musical/movie theater attendee. She traveled often with her daughters and enjoyed museums/historical landmarks. Lena’s two favorite animals in the whole entire world were panda bears and birds. Her favorite poet was Maya Angelou. She admired the incomparable Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lena also enjoyed the mechanics of literature and public speaking.
Lena’s favorite hobby was the dedicated involvement of her children’s extracurricular and academic events. She was present at sports events, dance performances/recitals, and all academic inductions. She motivated and encouraged her children to continue higher education. She believed education is “a viable tool needed for success.”
The Final Curtain Call- Even in Lena’s final days, she touched the lives of the New Haven Memory Care Facility, North Central Baptist hospital employees, surgeons, nurses “The Dream Team”, and families. She was referred to as “Mama Mercer” and the “sweet lady who loves music”.
It is with no doubt that Lena will be forever missed.
However, whenever you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel, or start to complain about the trials and tribulations of life, please refer and reflect on how strong of a Christian soldier, Lena May Mercer was on Earth. May her soul rest in eternal peace and power.