Carl and Marian Westbrook are remembered as trailblazers in the history of Henderson County, but even more for the lives they touched along the way.
Mr. Westbrook was a longtime Athens councilman, who in 1992 became the first black mayor pro-tem of the city. Mrs. Westbrook was the first black registered nurse at Henderson County Memorial Hospital. Gilson Westbrook, one of the couple’s three children, remembers his parents being well suited for their roles.
“Dad was elected pro-tem three times, which shows that he was very well accepted,” Gilson said.
Marian was chief nurse on the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at the hospital, Gilson said, adding “She liked that because it gave her time to do other things. She took care of dad’s an my needs during the day then went to work. It worked out very well.”
Marian grew up in Athens and graduated from R.C. Fisher High School in 1935. She left for Prairie View A&M, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1939. It was there that she met the man who would be her husband for 61 years. In 1965, Marian received a Degree in Public Health Education at Texas Woman’s University in Dallas.
“She began her career as the county school nurse,” Gilson said. “She was school nurse for Athens, Malakoff and St. Paul, as well as other rural schools in the county.”
Traveling from school to school, her face was soon recognized by children around the county.
“Everybody remembered Nurse Westbrook,” Gilson said. “She gave a majority of them their school vaccination shots. You’ve got to calm a kid down to give them the shots.”
After her stint at Henderson County Memorial Hospital, Marian served as a staff resource nurse for the Texas Department of Public Health Region 7 from 1968 until her retirement in 1979.
Later she was a member of the Top Ladies of Distinction, a Tyler-based humanitarian organization and the Henderson County leader for its youth oriented Top Teens program.
“She took them to all the conventions and conferences,” Gilson said.
Carl was born in Houston and graduated from Galveston Central High School. After his stay at Prairie View A&M, Westbrook began a 40-year career as a Texas agricultural extension officer. The last half of his extension years were in Henderson County.
“He enjoyed that role,” Gilson said. “During the days when they had the Black-Eyed Pea Jamboree, he was in charge of the pet show. He was also one of the founding forces behind the Henderson County Farm and Ranch Tour when it began in the early 1960s.
After retirement, he was elected to the Athens City Council in 1983, where he served until 2000. His fellow council members elected him mayor pro-tem in 1992 and he remained in that position until he left office.
Gilson’s brother, Carl Jr., is a physician in Tyler. The other sibling, Reginald, lives in Dallas.
“They were great parents,” Reginald said. “It was just us three boys but everyone wanted to be our sister and brother. Our house is where everyone wanted to come and stay.”
Carl died in September 2001 and Marian followed in July 2009
Westbrooks remembered as ground-breaking couple
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In remembrance of heroes
The roll call of armed services veterans buried in the Athens City Cemetery for the past century-and-a-half is a long one.
A Veterans Memorial, created in their honor, will be dedicated on Memorial Day Monday, with 5th District Congressman Jeb Hensarling serving as the keynote speaker. The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. at the cemetery on South Prairieville Street.
Does Athens Middle School have talent? You bet it does!
Drake Grammer (right) won first place in Friday’s Athens Middle School Talent Contest. He will receive a free meal from McDonald’s Lilly Enterprises. He will be taken, along with all students that placed in competition, to his meal by a limousine provided by A Trinity Valley Home Health and Therapy Services. Grammer will also receive $50. At left, is Amily Partin, who received Honorable Mention for her performance. Others receiving Honorable Mention were Fredrick Magouirk and George Jones. Second Place honors went to Mollie Davies and Third Place went to Maalik Hall. Drums for the contest were provided by Athens Middle School PTO.
A little old and new
CROSS ROADS — A former Cross Roads coach is returning to lead the Cross Roads athletic program after his approval by the school board on Thursday night.
The natural approach
Lavonia Nowell believes perhaps the best way to lose weight and be healthier is to analyze what you eat.
With those beliefs, Nowell has decided to begin the Processed-Free Living support group in Athens.
Oklahoma: More than its share of disasters
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The twister that devastated Moore, Okla., was the 74th presidential disaster declared in the Sooner state in the past 60 years. Only much-larger and more-populous California and Texas have had more.
Don’t let the fire die
Brownsboro Junior High eighth-grader Yasmine Mendez lights one of the candles during Thursday's induction ceremony for the National Junior Honor Society. Mendez and this year's NJHS class helped to officially welcome 36 new members who will be in eighth grade next year.
‘Click it or Ticket’
The Athens Police Department is part of a nationwide effort to cut down on traffic injuries and deaths by getting motorists to buckle their seat belts. It’s part of the Click It or Ticket campaign underway through June 2.
WWII vets visit Washington, D.C.
Two Athens men who served in World War II are part of a veteran’s visit to the nation’s capital this week.
J.C. Garrett and Doug Tanner join 28 others being escorted by Brookshires Grocery Co. who will tour the WWII Memorial and other sites. The veterans were set to leave Texas on Thursday and return at 9 a.m., Saturday.
Taking a break, just like you
Henderson County offices will close Friday through Monday for the Memorial Day weekend.
The courthouse and other county locations have traditionally closed on a Friday in May for Fiddlers Day. County employees were given May 24 as a holiday this year in anticipation of the event. The county’s 2013 holiday schedule was already set when the organizers of Fiddlers Day decided to make it a Friday night and Saturday affair on May 31 and June 1.
Great ability, not debatable
BROWNSBORO — Brownsboro senior Caleb Cade earned a state championship in persuasive speaking at the 2013 UIL State Speech and Debate Meet in Austin on May 22.
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