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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Ramps for handicapped
Encino Landscaping is doing a necessary job for the Texas Department of Transportation Tyler District. All four corners of the block upon which the Henderson County Courthouse rests are being converted to better serve handicapped pedestrians.
Appearance and operation of Splash Pad upgraded
The Splash Pad at Athens Kiwanis Park has been closed this week, as work is being done that will upgrade the appearance of the surroundings and operation of the facility.
The pad is now well into its first full summer of operation, and has proven to be a popular spot for youngsters in the city.
GBC official asked to resign
Gun Barrel City resident Carroll Strickland asked Councilman Marty Goss “to do the right thing and resign.”
Strickland spoke to the GBC council during the citizen's comment portion of the Tuesday evening’s council meeting. Strickland accused Goss of trying to take over the GBC Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
In a prepared statement, Strickland said, “Marty is doing harm to the city's reputation. I am asking the mayor and the city council to do something about the situation.”
Nutt says being part of task force has really paid off
Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt reports that being a part of the Drug Enforcement Task Force in Tyler has paid off in a big way with the arrest of two major drug distributors.
On May 13, following an investigation initiated in January by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office investigators, Uleyses Roberts, 45, and Dijon Howard, 25, were arrested by a task force of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The men were charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Unemployment jumps up in HC
The Henderson County unemployment rate jumped up in July, according to figures from the Texas Workforce Commission.
The Henderson County unemployment rate of 5.7 percent was an increase of .4 percent over June. The county saw both an increase in the size of the workforce and the number without jobs.
Gift card to Chili’s
Ralph Fortner, Chairman of the Gun Barrel City Chapter of the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, presents Jamie Snuffer a gift card to Chili's Restaurant in Gun Barrel City. Fortner was thanking Snuffer for her volunteer efforts on behalf of the GBC Chamber Chapter during the recent July Fest held in GBC. Snuffer is the secretary for the CCLACC Ambassadors.
Coaches speak to Kiwanis Club
Trinity Valley Community College Volleyball Coach Tosha Spain and Softball Coach Ashley Johnston were guest speakers at the Athens Kiwanis Club on Tuesday. The volleyball season begins in August, and the softball team starts its 30-game fall schedule in September.
Emotional response given to Victoria's death
The tragic news of 4-year-old Victoria Wyatt’s violent death set off an emotional response on Monday, with words of consolation for the child’s family and anger at the girl’s mother who admitted to taking her life. But mostly sorrow at the loss of one so young.
AISD readies for annual backpack distribution
Athens Independent School District and the Help Center are teaming up once again to provide backpacks and supplies to students in need.
The annual Back-to-School Bash is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Athens High School gym during the family fun day.
Open house at Grace House transition location
Grace House of Cedar Creek Lake, a faith-based transitional home for women, held an open house on Monday evening. The facility for women is 6,000 square feet on 13 acres in Tool.
Grace House includes a kitchen and a classroom equipped with computers for training and practice, as well as dorm-type rooms for the residents.
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