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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The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office reports that a large quantity of fireworks taken from a stand just outside of Athens have been recovered, and arrests are expected in the case.
According to Sheriff Ray Nutt, HCSO learned on Tuesday morning that Jake’s Fireworks Stand on State Highway 19 south had been burglarized.
Chandler to end septic dumping
Several repairs are needed on the lagoon at the Chandler Wastewater Treatment Plant, and as a result, the city council has voted to close the lagoon, effective Jan. 1.
The lagoon is used by several area septic companies for dumping of the sludge from their trucks. Those companies will be notified of the closing.
Brownsboro ISD adding eight courses
House Bill 5 is leading to changes in education across the state, and Brownsboro Independent School District is making sure it is ready.
While all the details of the bill have not been released, Brownsboro ISD approved adding eight courses to its high school curriculum Monday during a regular school board meeting in preparation.
Water authority sues Athens
The Athens Municipal Water Authority filed suit in 173rd District Court on Tuesday concerning bills presented to the AMWA the authority contends were the responsibility of the city.
The AMWA Board voted unanimously to take the action at its meeting Tuesday morning. The suit claims the city had wrongfully charged the AMWA with bills the municipality had been obligated to pay.
School buses collide in Athens
Two Athens Fire Department responders assist students after two buses collided near the bus barn on S. Palestine Street on Wednesday afternoon. The collision sent multiple individuals to East Texas Medical Center with unspecified injuries. Athens Police Department Officer Michael Reynolds said the driver of one of the buses was transported to the hospital with unspecified injuries. AISD officials said none of the students were thought to be seriously injured, but were being taken to the emergency room for evaluation. Two parked, unoccupied, vehicles received minor damage in the indecent.
Henderson County Election Administrator Denise Hernandez wants to alleviate fears of potential voters who believe they may be disenfranchised if the name on their voting card is not an exact match.
Hernandez said her office has received several inquiries concerning the question, and want’s to assure voters that the changes might cause them to spend a few extra seconds in the election process, but will not curtail their rights at the ballot box.
County discusses appointments
The Henderson County Commissioners discussed the appointment of three members to the Regional Fair Park Board at their Tuesday meeting.
Judge Richard Sanders said three positions were expiring on the park board. The positions are currently being held by Bob Myers, Ken Hayes and Martin Davis. Sanders said Bob Myers of Precinct 4 was the only board member who showed an interest in remaining on the Fair Park Board.
Hazardous materials response
The Athens City Council on Monday approved an agreement with Henderson County for hazardous materials response.
Now that the city has approved the document, it will go to the Henderson County Commissioners Court to be approved and signed.
More than 50 people were at the Cain Center on Sunday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the crowning of Athens' own Sharon McCauley as Miss Texas.
The event was attended by dignitaries such as City Administrator Pam Burton, Athens Mayor Jerry Don Vaught, Miss Texas Pageant historian Randy Pruett and Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders. Many of McCauley's family members also were on-hand for the celebration.
Primary filing complete
Filing for the March 2014 primary elections ended Monday for several key positions across Henderson County.
A total of 25 Republicans filed for a county position, while four Democrats filed.
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