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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McDonald’s coming to Mabank
The corner of North First Street and North Third Street in Mabank is about to look a lot different as a construction crew broke ground Monday.
A formal ceremonial groundbreaking will be held within the next week to welcome McDonald's to the location just off of Highway 175.
Funeral held for 15-year-old drowned Eustace student
Funeral services were held on Sunday for a 15-year-old Eustace student who drowned Thursday evening after diving into Cedar Creek Lake.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the drowning. According to reports, a medical emergency call came to 9-1-1 shortly after 5 p.m. from Timber Bay in the Payne Springs area.
PSCA seeks new student enrollment
“Striving to make a difference in each child for eternity,” reads the motto of one local private school seeking new enrollment.
Payne Springs Christian Academy is looking to enroll new students for the 2014-2015 school year.
“We are in need of some kids this year,” said Amanda Beets, a mother of one of the school's current students.
Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery to dedicate historical marker
The Texas Historical Commission, Henderson County Historical Commission and descendants of those who are buried in the Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery invite the public to the dedication of a historical marker at the property.
The observance is set for 10 a.m. on Aug. 2.
‘Party for the Paws’ event great success
The Henderson County Humane Society in Athens as well as Beckham are continuing to celebrate results of the Party For The Paws fundraiser. Beckham is a dog that was recently adopted from the HCHS.
HCHS Treasurer Ellen Barton commends those who were involved in the event’s planning and execution.
Volunteers now needed for Athens Soup Kitchen
Athens resident Terry Mayhall walked through the doors of the Athens Soup Kitchen asking if he could just volunteer. Mayhall now spends his Thursdays cooking soup for people who are hungry.
Athens Soup Kitchen, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The mission is to feed those who are hungry. The facility that feeds 30 to 63 people weekly, opened its door in March 2014.
Coston named chamber president
After a diligent search, the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board has named Mike Coston president.
“The chamber board selected a search committee, which consisted of Chamber members, community leaders and business owners,” Ashley Adams McKee, Chairman of the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board, said. “Our committee knew that we wanted to take our time to find the most qualified person to serve as our new president. We had more than 10 applicants and in our first round of interviews we were all equally impressed and excited about Mike's experience and passion for chamber business.”
Update on restaurant projects given
City of Athens officials gave an update on some ongoing projects and financial information at a meeting on Wednesday.
Director of Planning and Development Gary Crecilius said progress on the Cotton Patch Cafe has slowed considerably with the discovery of a possible environmental hazard. The restaurant is being constructed east of the Walmart store on East Tyler Street.
HCPAC announces ‘Mattress’ sales
Why would HCPAC be selling mattresses? Actually, the “mattresses” are tickets to “Once Upon a Mattress,” which opens Thursday, Aug. 7.
The 26th Annual Youth Summer Musical stars 24 very talented area students, ages 10 through college, and tells the “fractured fairy tale” version of the “Princess and the Pea.”
Gearing up for Celebrity Waiter event
The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake is gearing up for its annual Celebrity Waiter event. The Celebrity Waiter committee met on Thursday to discuss last minute items. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 9 at Athens Country Club. This will be the 18th year the CCL Rotary Club has hosted the fundraiser. For ticket information call Erin Osborn at 903-887-7486.
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