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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Theater director ends 25 years
Former owner of the Athens Review, Richard “Dick” Dwelle said it best: “There are so very many people who have made significant contributions to this community, but it would be difficult to find anyone who has had a greater impact for good on the youth of Athens than Dennis Gilmore.”
After 25 years as Executive Director of The Henderson County Performing Arts Center, Gilmore announced his retirement from HCPAC.
Chandler resident Tom Booth shot free throws for 24 hours to raise money for God’s Open Hands and a sports missionary. He overcame three surgeries to set a new record for shots made during the fourth annual Free Throws for Souls event held Friday-Saturday at Chandler First Assembly of God. He took 24,575 shots and made 15,750 for a 64 percent success rate. The goal is to raise more than $30,000 to donate all the proceeds toward missions work.
Kiwanis Pancake Day
The Athens Kiwanis Pancake Day started with a bit of uncertainty because of the weather, but ended with a steady stream of customers.
When the last griddle had been put away, the Kiwanis had served 1,525 customers, and raised over $20,000, before expenses.
Master Gardeners present giant check
The Henderson County Commissioners Court heard the annual report of a hard-working group on Tuesday.
The Henderson County Master Gardeners presented a giant check to represent the value of the volunteer work the organization performed in 2013.
Adopt a Bucket
As part of the activities surrounding the Color Fun Run for Water benefitting Hope Springs Water on March 22, participants will have the opportunity to adopt a bucket of water for the day for only $20.
The bucket is symbolic of those carried by mostly women and children in countries without access to clean water each day.
Citizens Academy coming
As a part of the City of Chandler’s ongoing effort to communicate information, provide transparency and promote citizen involvement, Mayor Ann Hall and the City Council established the Chandler Citizens Academy in 2013.
The first session was held April-May 2013, and was deemed a success by organizers and attendees.
A second academy is planned for 2014, with the first class scheduled for Tuesday, April 15.
Fighting for life
Family and friends have rallied around 20-year old Aaron Jenkins.
Three weeks ago Jenkins, a Mabank resident and former Trinity Valley Community College student, was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Aaron's Aunt Sheila Guill said, “He's pretty sick, but Aaron has a high pain tolerance and doesn't complain.”
Lake Palestine, Athens above levels, CCL close
Lakes Athens and Palestine are above their normal levels, while Cedar Creek Lake to the west still needs a good downpour to close the gap.
On Monday, when the average Texas lake stood at just 64.3 percent of full. Lake Athens had a reading of 440.06 feet, just above its average.
Three arrested for drugs
Drug offenses led to three Athens Police Department arrests over the weekend according to reports.
The first incident on Friday night resulted in the arrest of Joshua Paul Rogers, 25, for evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance. Rogers remained in custody on Monday, with bond set at $9,000 on the two charges.
County unemployment edges upward
Henderson County unemployment edged upward in January, falling between the state and national rates.
The January Texas Workforce Commission Report, issued on Friday, gave Henderson County a 6.1 percent reading, after a 6.0 percent rate in December. The national unemployment figure was 7.1 percent, while Texas enjoyed its lowest mark since 2008, 5.7 percent.
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