Durant Police Chaplain LaWanda "Chappy" Mabery dies at 81

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DURANT, OK -- The Durant Police Department is mourning the loss of one of their own. Chaplain LaWanda Mabery, better known as "Chappy", died Sunday night.

In late September she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Her family says she chose to forgo treatment to spend quality time with her family including her brothers and sisters in blue.

Flags hung at half staff outside the Durant Police Department Monday and officers wore black mourning bands across their badges in honor of Chaplain LaWanda Mabery. The woman they all called Chappy died in her home Sunday with family and friends by her side.

"Until yesterday, her end of watch, she was my spiritual leader, she was a confidant, she was a friend," Deputy Chief David Houser said.

"She acted more as almost a parent figure for many of the officers including myself, " Chief Durward Cook said.

Back in December of 1997, Chappy voluntarily began ministering to officers.

"She was very adamant that we needed a Chaplin program and she was the one to fill that position," Cook said.

She built the Chaplin program from the ground up, standing by the police force through thick and thin, good and bad.

"I had a traffic accident on duty. She would sit with me in my home as I recovered. She would come to my childrens' events and watch them perform and watch them perform along with me," Cook said.

"Chappy was there when we lost parents. Chappy was there when our kids were sick," Houser said.

"She was always a great mentor and gave wonderful sound advice and always helped you through the tough times," Laura Hider said.

Those who knew her best say Chappy was a strong woman with a huge heart.

"She found a place here and reached out from there and I think she touched the hearts of every emergency service in Bryan County," Cook said.

Even though she is no longer in her office, she is still here touching hearts through the memories and the messages she leaves behind.

"We're going to miss her. Really miss her," Hider said.

Chappy's funeral will be held on Wednesday at 1 p.m at the First Baptist Church in Durant. She will be laid to rest at Green Meadows Cemetary in Atoka.

Chappy was 81-years-old.