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Victory Funeral Services

Providing heartfelt services with dignity

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Mrs. Berenice “Punch Bowl” Gray

Funeral services for Berenice Gray will be held at 1 p.m. on May 22, 2021 at Corinth Missionary Baptist Church, 2774 County Road 236, Tyler, TX 75705 (approximately 13 miles west of Kilgore off Highway 31) with Rev. Robert Davis officiating and Rev. Ronald Daniels as eulogist. Arrangements are under the direction of Victory Funeral Services.

Berenice, also affectionately known as “Bea” or “Punch Bowl”, was born to the parentage of John A. Sanford and Floretta Wallace in Longview, Texas on March 24, 1949 and she departed this life on May 9, 2021 at her home in Katy, Texas.

Berenice was united with the Baptist Church at an early age and was a servant of Christ until the day she transitioned to be with her Lord and Savior. Since the beginning of her Christian journey at Corinth Missionary Baptist Church until her last days of service at Kilgore Baptist Church she served in her church homes in many different capacities. Through the years she served as an usher, youth worker, culinary chairlady, in the Women’s Missionary Society, and she had an outreach ministry where she tended to the needs of the sick and shut-in until her own health began to fail.

She was educated in the Kilgore Independent School District where she graduated C.B. Dansby High School in the Class of 1967. She held the schools that provided her education in high esteem and worked to commemorate their place in history after desegregation. She served as the brainchild for suggesting that efforts be made to memorialize the existence of the institutions after the demolition of the structures.

After graduation she attended Kilgore Junior College before joining the United States Army where she served as a Clerk Typist at both The Pentagon, and The Army War College.

Upon departure from the military, Berenice spent her career as a government employee. She worked at the United States Post office for several years before going on to work and retire from the Internal Revenue Service.

Berenice had three lifelong loves. Her first love was being a mother to her two beloved daughters, Mitzi, and Tracey, and being a grandmother to her three grandchildren, Devin, Colin, and Layla. Her second love was cooking. She was known far and wide for her remarkable culinary skills. Thirdly, she loved the C.B. Dansby Class of 1967 and everyone in it.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Floretta and Wade “Babe” Taylor and John A. Sanford, her younger sister, Dora Sanford, and her oldest daughter, Tracey Boone Swan.

Left to cherish her memory is her daughter, Mitzi Hickman of Katy, Texas; grandchildren, Devin Hickman and Layla Hickman both of Katy, Texas and Robert Colin Swan of Costa Mesa, California.

She also remains in the hearts of her sisters, Willie “Cookie” Garrison of Tyler, Texas, and Wendy Bradley and her husband, Joe of Cedar Hill, Texas; her cousin and best friend, James Richard Sanders of Longview, Texas as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and lifelong friends.

Her daughter requests that ladies in attendance please wear black attire adorned with pearls. It is also requested that everyone wear mask and practice social distancing.

Viewing will be held on Friday, May 21, 2021 from 2 to 7 p.m. via exterior walk-up or drive thru at Victory Funeral Services.