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After 50 years, chapter honors founding members, celebrates past

Dec. 5, 2012 at 10 p.m.


The East Texas chapter of the Links, Inc. will host its Golden Anniversary Celebration with a black-tie dinner dance Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Villa di Felicita in Tyler.

Highlights of the evening include special recognition of three living charter members, recognition of its Golden Honorees and presentation of the Links' Western Area Director, Constance Smith and its National Financial Secretary, Patricia Ingram. Jeff Aycock Music and Entertainment, of De Soto will provide music for dancing.

The three living charter members of the East Texas Chapter are: Grace Lamothe (Silver Spring, Maryland, formerly of Marshall, Texas) ; Helen Williams (Dallas, Texas, formerly of Longview); and Silverleen Young. Mrs. Young, the former counselor at Emmett Scott High School, was the chapter's first president. Mrs. Young who is 102 years old presently resides in Ohio.

The organization's founding principle is "Linked in Friendship and Service." In keeping with its task, five individuals were selected by the East Texas Chapter as its Golden Honorees for this historical event.

Each of the honorees will be recognized for their history of achievements in the organization's five major facets: Services to Youth, the Arts, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and Health and Human Services. The Chapter's Golden Honorees are: Troy W. Simmons, D.D.S. (Longview) who will be honored for his Services to Youth. Dr. Simmons has served on the Board of Trustees of the Longview Independent School District for more than 25 years.

Archie Jones (Longview) for his dedication to the Arts. For more than 20 years, Mr. Jones introduced students to and developed students in the area of classical music through stringed instruments.

The East Texas Food Bank will receive the award for National Trends and Services. This organization has a long history of its attack on hunger and encouraging healthy diets in the fight against obesity.

Jeannette Calhoun, PhD will be the recipient of the International Trends and Services for the establishment of Tyler Aids Service to address the world-wide HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Smith County and surrounding areas.

Dr. Samuel Houston was selected as Golden Honoree for his work in Health and Human Services. Dr. Houston, a native of Tyler and graduate of Emmett Scott High School, was the first Black surgeon in Tyler and served this area for many years. In his retirement he provides volunteer health services at the faith based Bethesda Health Clinic.

The East Texas Chapter implements this overall mission through friendship among women who combine expertise, enthusiasm, energy, resources and commitment for positive impacts in East Texas.

Today, the East Texas chapter, among the oldest chapters of the Links, Inc., consists of 33 women across the educational and professional spectrum make up the East Texas Chapter who reside in this area. Its activities not only impact the East Texas area, but extend beyond the continental United States of America.

For the past 50 years, each member of the East Texas Chapter commits to a minimum 48 service hours per Link to the Chapter and to the communities they serve. For many years the signature event was the Ebony Fashion Fair which gave way to the "Jazz Brunch," which enables them to provide services and scholarships to the communities served by the East Texas Chapter of the Links, Incorporated.

Fifty years ago, on Dec. 1, 1962, East Texas Chapter of the Links, Inc. was installed and began its commitment to service with 15 charter members.

Dedicated to is purpose of promoting and engaging in educational, civic, and intercultural activities, East Texas Link Chapter became the first, and only, chapter of the Links, Inc. in the East Texas Area. Upon its chartering, the East Texas Chapter became part of this international woman's organization with chapters across several states, the District of Columbia and in several foreign countries.

The international Links membership now exceeds 12,000 professional women in 274 chapters in 42 states, Washington, D.C. and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The East Texas Chapter is among the oldest chapters in "Linkdom."

Members of the East Texas Chapter of the Links are: Henria Armstrong (past president and Alumna member), Joyce Armstrong-Scurry (past president); Garnesha Beck, Lurenia Bratton (Longview ); Dara Brazile (Longview) Fredericka Brown, PhD; Berdine Cradock, Ollie Crawford (past president, Alumna and Platinum member); Clara Dickerson (Longview); Dorothy Edwards (Alumna and Platinum member); Kathy Edwards-Hart; Traci Fisher (Marshall), April Gatson-Willis, M.D. (Longview); Carol Henry (Longview) IraJean Henry; Sebetha Jenkins-Booker, PhD.; Nettie Jones (Longview, Alumna member); Crystal Lewis (Longview); Darlene Lewis; Janice Lindsey; Roxie Mayfield (Alumna members); Greta Moore-Dixon; Carol Pruitt (Longview), Sharon Roy, Serena Sentell, Ora Taylor, VaLita F. Waits, Esq.; Jodie Ward; Sonja Watson; Elaine Wells; Tina Wesley; Artelia Williams, and Lizzie Willis (Longview). VaLita F. Waits, Esq. is the Chair for the 50th Golden Anniversary Celebration. East Texas Chapter, The Links, Inc. president is April Gatson-Willis, M.D.

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