Dr. Winifred Winnie Lee Columbus-Frelow passed away at her home on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Frelow was born on March 11, 1949 to Wilbert and Maudry Columbus in Sacramento, California. The family moved to Port Arthur, Texas when she was two years old where she resided for the remainder of her life. Frelow graduated from Lincoln High School as co-salutatorian of the class of 1967 and obtained a Bachelor of Education from Texas Southern University in 1972. She became one of the first African American teachers at Thomas Jefferson High School and moved quickly through the ranks to become assistant principal of Thomas Jefferson High School for 10 years before becoming principal of Stephen F. Austin High School. She continued to further her education by obtaining two Master's Degrees and four educational certifications from Lamar University. She then returned to her old Alma Mater, Texas Southern University, where she received a doctorate of education in 1994. In 1993, she was promoted to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Port Arthur Independent School District where she retired in 2003 after approximately 30 years of service to the district. After a battle with breast cancer in 2001, Frelow began a local Breast Cancer Education and Support Group-Winners for Life-with the support of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. During the past 11 years, the organization has sponsored annual seminars and raised over $35,000.00, which in collaboration with the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program, has made available free mammograms and clinical breast exams for medically underserved Port Arthur women. Soon after retirement, Frelow began working with Universal Travel as a travel agent and later became a Disney and Cruise specialist. She was also associated with IEA - Inspire, Encourage, Achieve and Ben's Kids, where she mentored youth involved in the juvenile justice system, recruited volunteers, conducted orientation sessions and helped organize special programs, dedicating herself to these young people until she retired in 2011. Following her second retirement, although Frelow was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she continued her amazing work in raising awareness for breast cancer with her Winners for Life organization. Frelow was preceded in death by her mother, Maudry Duhon, her father, Wilbert Columbus and her stepmother, Doris Loeb Columbus. She leaves to rejoice in her life, her daughter, Tracey Young (Vashon) and her son, Carl McDaniel, Jr. (Tu); three grandchildren, Hlevictor Hoskins, Jr., Torry Marshall, and Ashlien McDaniel; one sister, Willa Columbus-McDaniel (Glenn); two special aunts, Mildred Hayes (Elton) and Celestine Columbus and a special uncle, Albert Columbus and a host nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. A special memorial tribute service for Dr. Frelow will be held on Friday, August 23, 2013 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at Gabriel Funeral Home in Port Arthur, Texas. Funeral services will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 2:30pm. Viewing will begin at 12:30 pm and a rosary at 1:30pm, just prior to the funeral services. Entombment will follow in Greenlawn Memorial Park under the direction of Gabriel Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, family requests donations to one of the following two organizations: Winners for Life, PO Box 1664, Groves, TX 77619 or Pancreatic Cancer Action Network - Dr. Frelow's children will participate in their December Lake Area walk in memory of their mother and in an effort to end the disease which claimed her life (http://purplestride.kintera.org/lakearea/tracey).
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Published in The Beaumont Enterprise on Aug. 23, 2013