Toy Coffee to be held at a special location

Published 5:52 pm Thursday, November 22, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


There is a house in Orange which has held mysteries of what is just inside the doors. A home which many, now adults, wondered about as they walked past it on the way to and fro school or church. The home of Nelda Stark is the location of this year’s annual tradition – the Service League of Orange’s Toy Coffee.

Junior and Leslie Leger purchased the home just one week before Hurricane Harvey.

“We had already looked at the house and put down a deposit,” Junior said. “A week later Harvey came along. It took us until April to move in.”

The couple was painting the house when Toy Coffee Committee members approached them about hosting the event this year.

“We thought it was great,” Leslie said. “There was so much to do but it was March/April. We had time.”

Leslie knew she would eventually move into the house even before it was up for sale last year.

“I knew I wanted to eventually move here but never thought it would be next year,” Leslie said as she reflected on the day her dream became a reality of owning the house Nelda Stark grew up in.

“I have always loved this house,” Leslie said. “I can’t believe I am here.”

Along the tour of the home, guests will learn about the history of the house and of Nelda Stark.

The house is 111 years old and was built in 1907. The original owners were James Patton Childers and his wife Mary – the parents of Nelda and Ruby Stark.

Lutcher Stark married Nita Hill of Austin, Texas, on April 6, 1911, and they later adopted twin boys, Homer B.H. Stark, and William H. Stark II. Nita Hill Stark died on October 11, 1939. Stark thereafter married Ruby Childers, on April 6, 1941. She died on July 12, 1942. He then married Ruby’s sister, Nelda Childers, on December 16, 1943.

Together, Nelda and Lutcher Stark actively collected crystal, porcelain, and rare botanical books and prints. They also amassed a significant collection of American Western art, with a focus on Southwestern artists. Nature was another passion of Lutcher Stark, and this love led him to create Shangri-La Botanical Gardens in Orange, Texas in the 1940s. The gardens were open to the public and featured azaleas, Stark’s favorite flower, as well as wildlife such as swans, ducks, and egrets. The gardens closed in 1958 after being devastated by a major ice storm.

In 1961, Lutcher Stark, together with his wife, Nelda, established the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, a private foundation that aims to improve the quality of life in Southeast Texas by encouraging, promoting, and assisting education, the arts, and health and human services, according to

Lutcher Stark is the son of Miriam Melissa Lutcher Stark and William Henry (W.H.) Stark.

The Toy Coffee is an annual event hosted by the Service League of Orange to help the Salvation Army and children of Orange County.

“This is why we said yes to hosting,” Junior and Leslie said.

“Marleigh and I went last year,” Leslie added. “Never thought we would host it the next year.”

The event is from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 602 West Orange Ave. in Orange.

Last year the Toy Coffee had 374 visitors, collected 574 toys and $4,000 in funds.

“In spite of Harvey, and the miserable weather we had that day, we had a good turnout,” Service League member Pasty Kemp said. “We hope everyone can come out and learn the history of the original owners.”

Price of admission is a new unwrapped toy.