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“Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” — Thomas Chisholm

Stella Elizabeth Pelej, 85, formerly of Burnet and Buchanan Dam, passed away in the early morning hours of Dec. 6, 2021, in Hewitt, Texas. Throughout her battle with dementia, Stella never lost her quick wit, ability to correct one’s grammar, or strong belief in God’s unwavering faithfulness to weather her through the storm.

A graveside service is 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at Bluffton Cemetery with Father Red Blevins officiating.

Stella was born on Sept. 12, 1936, in Longview, Texas, to Wilbur B. and Stella E. Norton Lyles. Stella was affectionally referred to as “Bugs” and “Sister” by her family. She graduated from Iraan High School in 1955 and obtained a degree in business administration from the University of North Texas. 

While working for Mobil Oil in Midland, Texas, Stella met the love of her life, Joseph “Joe” Leo Pelej. One of her favorite stories was how she met Joe. According to Stella, another Mobil auditor asked her and a friend out on a double date, but, on the date, it didn’t take Stella long to realize that she was more interested in the man in the back seat than the one beside her in the front seat. After this first encounter, Joe and Stella began exclusively dating and were married in the Philippines on July 1, 1966, by Conrado V. Sanchez, associate justice of the Supreme Court, Manila. 

Due to Joe’s job as an auditor for Mobil Oil, Joe and Stella traveled and lived around the world, including in Mexico, England, Norway, Japan, Australia, and Africa. During this time, Stella worked as Joe’s secretary. After retirement, they eventually settled in Lakeway, Texas. Later, their mutual love for bass fishing led them to build a home at Buchanan Dam. 

After Joe’s death in 2008, Stella built a home in Burnet, where she lived until moving to Country Oaks Assisted Living in 2019. To be closer to family, Stella moved in the spring of 2021 to Stoney Brook Assisted Living in Hewitt, where she lived until her passing.

Stella was a faithful and loving wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. Some of her favorite pastimes were cooking, reading, listening to country and Western music, eating Whataburger, and watching the Dallas Cowboys, whom she referred to as “the Boys.” Her generosity and commitment to those she loved and causes she believed in were boundless. 

Stella was preceded in death by her husband, Joe Pelej; her parents, Wilbur and Stella Lyles; and her brother James “Lindy” Lindon Lyles. She leaves behind her brother Joseph Edward Lyles of Canyon Lake, Texas, and his daughters, Tandra and Ashly; nephew, James Lindon Lyles Jr. and wife Bobbie of Satin, Texas; and special friends Charles and Kay Birdwell of Buchanan Dam.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to Lakesia Loftley for her loving care, patience, and devotion to Stella. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Dementia Society of America.