Services

Graveside Service

Wed. Dec. 19, 2018
12:00 pm

Resthaven Cemetery

13102 North Freeway
Houston , TX 77060.
Wed. Dec. 19, 2018
12:00 pm
Resthaven Cemetery
13102 North Freeway
Houston , TX 77060.
In Memory of
Lynna Kay Shuffield
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Lynna Kay Shuffield, an energetic, award-winning historian, preservationist, author, editor, and genealogist as well as a friend and mentor generous with her time and research, passed away peacefully Wednesday, December 12, 2018, in Houston following a two-year illness. She was 61.

She was predeceased by her beloved mother, Betty Knight Shuffield, and is survived by her father, Eugene J. Sheffield, for whom she recently threw a 90th birthday party. Survivors also include her brother, Eugene Jr., and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins across the state.

Born in Houston Feb. 3, 1957, Lynna Kay graduated in 1975 from Sam Houston High, a school for which she later researched a Texas Historical Marker. She received degrees in 1979 from the University of Houston-Downtown and Rice University's Navy ROTC program as a dual-enrolled student. A Certified Paralegal, she worked in the Real Estate arena of the City of Houston Legal Department until her retirement earlier this year. In 2016, she received the city’s Bravo Award for her exceptional work above and beyond the call of duty.

Her brilliant academic mind and inquisitive research culminated in several projects within the city and state that both augmented and corrected the historic record. After she publicized the names of 1,090 military personnel omitted from the Harris County War Memorial in Bear Creek’s Pioneers Park, the county commissioners responded with a $220,000 war memorial expansion. The project, completed in 2011, also corrected thirteen spelling errors. Explaining what motivated this research, Lynna Kay told the Houston Chronicle, “My mama always told me if you find something wrong, stop, fix it and fix it right."

Lynna Kay’s most ambitious project was to complete the architectural plans for Houston’s Depression-era City Hall by adding life-size statues of the city’s founders—brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen. While examining the building’s original blueprints, drawn in 1939 by immigrant architect Joseph Finger, Lynna realized that statues of the Allen brothers were supposed to stand on the front terrace at City Hall, flanking the entry doors. Determinedly, Lynna tracked down the architect’s grandchildren in Israel, hired Houston sculptor Lori Betz, conferred with engineering firms and with the Houston Art Alliance, and raised more than $100,000 to finish a project, long forgotten.

Lynna Kay had a strong sense of duty and service. She was a former Major in the State Military Forces of Texas having graduated from the Military Police Officer Basic and Advance Courses and the U.S. Marine Corps Command & General Staff Course. Her passion for service was far reaching, leading to several award-winning books about Texans who served in WWI. Her straightforward manner of conversation and tart tongue could be a challenge, but her circle of friends knew she was invested and sincere beyond all. Former Marshall Mayor, Audrey Kariel, who worked with Lynna Kay to get a historic marker for the city’s Hebrew cemetery, said, “I was in her fan club.”

Beside securing Historic Texas Cemetery (HTC) status for the Marshall cemetery, Lynna Kay successfully applied for HTC markers at more than thirty cemeteries, including forgotten acreage where former slaves are buried. The HTC designation serves as a legal document preventing freeway encroachment. Among the Houston cemeteries now protected, thanks to Lynna’s dogged research and perseverance, are the Evergreen Negro Cemetery, Hollywood Cemetery, and the Eichwirtzel Cemetery. During the past decade, she turned her attention to the state’s Hebrew cemeteries. As a board member of the Texas Jewish Historical Society, she headed an HTC taskforce that resulted in historic markers at nearly twenty cemeteries—from well-tended acreage with more than a thousand graves in Houston to a neglected, previously unmarked cemetery in Paris with a few dozen gravestones.

As Lynna documented burials across Texas, she posted the information she gathered at the website findagrave.com, adding descriptions of 6,573 memorials. She was tireless.

Raised in the Baptist church, Lynna embraced diversity and was proud to note, based on her genealogical research, that she was a fraction Jewish. She became editor of the Greater Houston Jewish Genealogy Society’s quarterly newsletter. In October, the Texas Jewish Historical Society voted to give her its Outstanding Preservation Award, a prize that will be presented posthumously in April. “Texas history weeps,” said longtime TJHS board member Gary Whitfield, a Civil War and Masonic historian.

As Lynna Kay continued to diligently work despite her debilitating disease, she received a monthlong Burney Parker Research Fellowship from the Texas Collection at Baylor University. During her weeks in Waco last spring, she researched the city’s Hebrew cemeteries with assistance from her longtime colleague Bill Buckner, Genealogy Center Supervisor at the West Waco Library. “She found joy in the hunt to get to the truth and record the facts,” Buckner said. “She did things for the greater good in an unselfish, unpretentious sort of way. She was a tenacious researcher and author. By my last count back around 2015, she had written at least 23 books. We own some of them. Even with her poor health, she was so positive, grateful for the help we provided and cognitive of every fact about the project she was working on. “

A passionate genealogist, Lynna was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, organizations to which she volunteered years of service as an officer and Executive Board member.

She taught hundreds of novice genealogists how to document their ancestry and heritage, ensuring each person “did it right” the first time. Jack Brooks of the Milam County Genealogical Society said, “Lynna Kay generously mentored our group, held workshops and was responsible for our website. She contributed a considerable amount of historical research documentation in Milam County. We are united in the thought of her resting in eternal peace.”

Our dear Lynna Kay has found reward in the arms of her loved ones who have gone before her. Her legacy will live on in the written words, too numerous to mention. Her vision will be seen and felt forever all over the state. She has made her mark never to be forgotten.

Graveside Services will be held on at noon on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at Earthman Resthaven Cemetery (13102 North Freeway, Houston, TX 77060).

 

Sign Guestbook

Sherry Davis

Lynna, you had a great heart.

Will greatly miss learning from you. Thank you for all that you did for researching enthusiasts. Rest in Peace.

Lynna, you had such a full and rewarding life way beyond most people could even imagine. I'm so proud to have known you and call you a friend . Class of 1975 Sam Houston.

Lynna and I have worked together at the City of Houston for the past 9 years. Lynna was diligent, dedicated and, surprise, opinionated. I already miss our discussions about Houston history. I pray that Lynna rests in peace. Rene

Carolyn Farmer

Lynna, You alway had so much energy and always lent a helping hand to so many. When you made a decision, that was the end or subject. You will be missed those yooucame in contact with. Rest in peace after 2 plus years of pain.

Tributes

Message from Fri, 12/14/2018

Lynna Kay Shuffield was the President of Oran Roberts Chapter UDC and The Mayflower Chapter NSDAR. She used her exceptional skills as a genealogist to help many people find their ancestors. The bronze statues of John Kirby Allen and Augustus Allen, the brothers who founded Houston, grace the pedestals on either side of the front doors of Houston City Hall because Lynna Kay worked long hours to put them there. She will be missed by her many friends.