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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Malakoff ISD adding school bus
The Malakoff Independent School District approved the purchase of a new bus during Monday's school board meeting.
By unanimous decision, the board approved the purchase of a bus for $94,199, with funds from the Henderson County Shared Services Agreement.
29th annual PRCA event scheduled for April 25-26
The Cedar Creek Lake Veterans Foundation is gearing up for this year's air show — Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake. This is the 11th annual event to be held on Saturday, July 5 at Cedar Creek Lake.
The event will start with a benefit golf tournament on Monday, May 12 at Pinnacle Golf Club.
Hensarling addresses residents’ concerns
U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling was in Athens Tuesday for a town hall meeting to update the citizens of Henderson County on his continued efforts to hold Washington accountable to the American people.
Held at the Henderson County Senior Citizens Center, more than 50 people attended with a plethora of questions for the congressman.
County commissioners openly appreciated
The Henderson County Commissioners Court moved quickly through a routine agenda on Tuesday.
First item of business not on the agenda, was for the Commissioners to accept a “Thank You” plaque for their donation to the 2014 Henderson County Livestock Show.
The five commissioners each donated $500 of their personal money towards the gate fees for the show.
Black Beauty Ranch holds educational spring open house
Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and Doris Day Equine Center hosted their Spring Open House on April 12 and April 19. Located in Murchison, these entities are both non-profit organizations that specialize in rescue, adoption and providing sanctuary to the unadoptable.
Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ
Jeremiah Roberts portrays Jesus Christ as he carries a cross down Mill Run Road enroute to the Henderson County Square, to re-enact Christ’s resurrection. Hitting him with instruments to illustrate the inhumanity of the day were Tramaine Jordan and C.J. Douglas. Also helping in the effort were Joyce Coleman, Amanda Jordan and a child, Rychis Douglas. All are members of Petersburg Baptist Church.
In the voter’s hands
Elections have come and gone for years without the Athens Municipal Water Authority getting much attention. But this year, the fate of the entity is in the balance.
CCL Rotary offers non-profit grants
The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake offers a wide variety of grants to local non-profit organizations in Henderson County and Kaufman County.
Man arrested near GBC for resisting
The Henderson County Sheriff's Department responded to a disturbance involving an assault on Friday, April 18 at about 4:38 a.m. The assault occurred in the 100 block of Wedgewood Loop in the Oak Harbor Subdivision near Gun Barrel City.
Darin Karl found Thursday on Cedar Creek Lake
The body of a 42-year-old man who had been missing in Cedar Creek Lake was recovered on Thursday.
The drowning victim was identified as Darin Lynn Karl of Kemp. According to Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt, Karl and his nephew were fishing near Cedar Creek Country Club when the boat overturned, ejecting the men.
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