John D. Mayfield, III

Visitation: hosted by John’s family will be held 4:00PM until 7:00PM, Wednesday, October 18 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 515 Columbus Avenue in Waco where Mr. Mayfield will lie in state in the Chapel of the Four Sisters adjacent to the church sanctuary. Mr. Mayfield will as well lie in state at the church on Thursday morning, prior to service.

Funeral Service: Baptized as an infant and confirmed as a youth at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, John was buried from his home parish of St. Paul’s with a funeral Thursday, October 19th. A reception followed the service and a private family interment was held at Oakwood Cemetery. The Reverends Ray Waldon and Sharron Cox officiated at the services.

Pallbearers were James Barron; Robert Braswell; Jamey, Clifton and Kenny Bennett; Steve Cates; Manuel “Trini” Dominguez; Gordon Harriman; Judge Matt Johnson; Jordan Mayfield and Tod Swann. Reserved seating at the funeral was held open for beloved members of John’s Texas Life extended family.

John Delorraine Mayfield, III, a kind and gentle man, died Sunday, October 15, 2017. Approaching his 88th birthday, the man known as John D., Squee to his long time friends and Sonny Mayfield to his parents and siblings entered Providence Hospital late on Friday, September 22nd after an afternoon spent exercising at his gym and enjoying a dinner at home. Blessed to have a long and active life and only a brief illness, his last clearly audible words to his doctor were “I am not in pain.”

A son of Waco, formed in spirit by a unique American era, John was born November 26, 1929, a month after the crash of Wall Street and the onset of the Great Depression. His times, his generation and his family’s love influenced his character, his values, his work ethic, his faith and his positive hopeful spirit, creating an optimistic, caring, generous and selfless human – a good man.

A descendent of folks from South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Germany, who all settled in Waco, in the 19th C., John was born to Lucy Wade May and John Delorraine Mayfield, Jr.. John’s childhood was filled with wonder at his world and the love of his grandparents, parents and siblings Ann Park Mayfield Burton and the late Sandra Mayfield Coleman.

John attended Sanger Avenue Elementary along with many lifelong friends known at that time as the “silk stocking sissies of Sanger Avenue.” There he rebelled a bit but learned a love of the classics and 19th C. poetry through the classes of the principal Miss Nina Glass. To the end, he could recite from memory the prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

He swam at Watt’s Lake, rode his grandfather’s horses along what would become Waco Drive and shared his Depression era allowance to take a friend on the streetcar downtown to a Saturday matinee. A tinkerer and always on the go, John built a sailboat and numerous tree houses from salvaged wood and always said all he ever wanted was “a box of new nails,” which was unavailable in those days. John learned about the less fortunate and often helped his mother feed lunch in the backyard to the numerous migrant workers that appeared at their house on North 19th Street across from Seley Park. Neighbors, friends and family, particularly his aunt Gin, Uncle Davy and cousin “Doodie,” were central to this simpler world. With broken glasses, patched together with wire and tape, John delivered medicine on a scooter for Heights Pharmacy, as earning his way was important to him.

John graduated from Waco High School in 1947. Following in his father’s footsteps, John attended Texas A & M, graduating in 1951. Always wanting to a part of the team, John worked as a football manager at A & M alongside his future brother-in-law and great friend of 69 years Alan Burton.

After serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in Korea, John returned to Waco and spied a young co-ed in his class at Baylor, Beth Miller of Houston. Unbeknownst to Beth, John decided then and there that he would ask her to marry him. John and Beth dated and were married June 5, 1954 and enjoyed over 63 years of a marriage filled with love and caring, raising two children, Laura Mayfield Williams and John Miller Mayfield. In every respect, John’s mission in life was to protect, nurture and provide for his family.

To his children, he provided counsel and advice in every respect. Every occasion was an opportunity to share his “Lessons in Life,” which expressed his nurturing guidance on how to handle all situations with honesty, kindness and respect for others. He always stressed the importance of being your own person, standing on your own two feet and not following the crowd. He would not directly tell you the answer to a problem, but would challenge you to think for yourself. When disappointment or hurt arose, his words were always, “this too shall pass,” which speaks of John’s greatest belief – hope.

John and Beth enjoyed taking part in the raising of two grandchildren, John Mather Lupton IV and Laura Adelaide Lupton of Washington, D.C. and Nashville, Tennessee, respectively. As with his own children, John provided his grandchildren counsel and support, from driving them in carpool, making sure they had every educational advantage and nurturing them with his thoughtful, selfless approach to life. To his grandchildren, John was surprisingly funny. He was able to drop a few well-timed words into a storm of conversation that united everyone in laughter.

Early on in the 1950’s, and upon the death of his father and his uncles, John knew his responsibility lie in taking up the leadership role of Texas Life Insurance Company, founded by his great-grandfather and grandfather in 1901. John nurtured the company’s well being and growth and ensured the livelihood of all those who worked there. He saw Texas Life as a group of individuals with whom he had the pleasure of sharing his working life. All became friends with whom he had genuine relationships.

In the running of Texas Life, John expressed what was his true core belief – a life of dignity. In his regular welcome of new agent associates, John’s greeting speech always included the words, “At Texas Life, we believe every human being has a fundamental dignity, and that is how we strive to treat everyone.” These words John believed and lived, inspiring others to do the same.

John understood the fragility of small independent insurance companies and shepherded Texas Life into greater stability and growth by negotiating the sale of Texas Life to Metropolitan Life of New York in 1986. This association with a New York company and the support of Steve Cates provided John with a great deal of professional growth, personal satisfaction and the comfort that he had done the right thing.

John also took a leadership role in the then-National City Bank, also founded by his family. Along with his late brother-in-law Herman Coleman, John managed its future until it was sold to Compass Bank.

After retiring from Texas Life in 1996, John always termed himself “the maintenance man,” a role he loved, and took care of projects at home, particularly working in the garden planting flowers alongside his beloved friend “Trini” Dominguez. John made sure he kept a keen eye on his “books” as he called them and spent many hours at his desk making sure all his affairs were in order. He always said his only “scorecard” for his life was “effectiveness.” Thus, getting things accomplished was his driving force.

John may have been a person who thought too much. But he was a planner; always making lists of what needed to be done. A man of routine and structure, his solace was his endless study of how he could improve and do better next time.

He took little time for himself but did enjoy his outlet for stress, golf, both alone and with his friends. With his partners on the course, whom he cherished, John reveled in their shared times and friendship. He studied golf endlessly as he studied all things, maybe thinking about how to improve more than playing.

John loved to tease, which was his way of communicating his interest and delight in a person. John appreciated the human spirit and treated all whom he met just the same. Despite being naturally shy, he greeted all with a smile, focusing his attention on them and asking what they were “up to,” maybe joking a bit. Thus he touched many lives both by his example and his gentle manner that showed he cared about individuals’ lives.

The people of Waco were of vast importance to John, and he felt a duty to give back to the community of his birth. John served and gave his time, talent and treasure to most every civic endeavor and institution that did well in Waco. Privately, John was generous with numerous individuals he felt were in need and in whom he saw great potential.

John’s faith and church, St Paul’s, were central to his life. At St. Paul’s, he served in most every capacity of leadership, many more than once. He also served the Diocese of Texas in many positions. His last major role was as the Chairman of the Building Committee for the construction of the Chapel of the Four Sisters and for the major renovations to the buildings at St. Paul’s, a project that brought him great satisfaction.

Beth, with a curious spirit, encouraged John to travel and accompanied him on adventures that he would not have pursued on his own. They loved to wander the streets of Rome, seeking out a corner restaurant where no one spoke English. Beth enriched his life, no matter how much he detested the art museums that she wanted them to see.

John loved all his nieces and nephews; Murray Burton, the late Katie Burton, Terry Burton Kahn, Joel Burton, Bill Coleman and Julie Coleman Luedke; his cousin Jim Raisanen; his Mayfield first cousins; and their spouses and children. These individuals made up his family circle, and John felt dearly close to them all. He also maintained a life-long friendship with his dear friend from their birth a few months apart, Jerline Parks.

John was overjoyed and comforted when his only daughter, Laura, married Dale Williams in February 2017 and his grandson, John, married Caitlin McDevitt in October 2014.

In lieu of floral arrangements, the family requests memorials in Mr. Mayfield’s memory be directed to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, The Waco Foundation or to the charity of your choice.

Contact Information:

Lake Shore Funeral Home & Cremation Services

5201 Steinbeck Bend Dr
Waco, TX 76708
United States (US)
Phone: (254) 752-5900

Place of Service: St. Paul Episcopal Church , 515 Columbus Ave.; Waco, TX 76701

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Condolence Messages

  1. Holcombe Crosswell

    So sorry to hear about John’s passing. Dorthy Ables emailed Emily the sad news this morning.
    Our prayers arte with you and young John.

  2. Mrs Mayfield, John Miller and Laura,
    You have my deepest sympathies and condolences. Mr. Mayfield has left such a strong legacy behind him. Waco, the Diocese of Texas and the Episcopal community in Waco, especially St Paul’s, have all been the beneficiaries of his tremendous gifts of leadership, stewardship, generosity and his servant’s heart. He fulfilled his noblesse oblige with grace and tireless commitment. We shall feel the loss of him for years to come. I am grateful for his life and I pray it inspires the next generation of our leaders in Waco.

  3. My condolences to the Mayfield family. Happy memories of John be with you. But when sadness comes, may these promises from Jehovah God help you to endure. “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7; Isaiah 25:8 NWT.

  4. When I think of John Mayfield 111, I think of a fine Southern Christian gentleman. He will be missed by many. My condolences to Beth, Laura, John Miller and families. Cherish those memories that bring smiles to your heart.

  5. The Re. Ray Waldon

    Blessings to a wonder man and faithful Christian. Fr Ray Waldon

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