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The beginning of Hospice of East Texas 40 years ago was, for me, the incredible culmination of the two previous years of research, education and the work of the organizing board. As a licensed social worker, this was right down my alley. I took great delight in getting to educate the community on the concept of hospice, as very few had ever even heard the word “hospice”!

It became my passion! I shared with any group or anyone who would stand still long enough for me to share my spiel. I was like a preacher standing by a river as I wanted to immerse everyone into the hospice concept!! As a Christian, I felt that death was only a beginning to the next chapter in our lives. Impending death was something to be talked about… not denied.

This project seemed to me to be the perfect fit for the Junior League of Tyler since one of the primary tenets of hospice care was the use of volunteers. After a year of education and “feeling the community out”, it was with some anxiety and fear that I presented to the entire Junior League the proposal to start a hospice program in our community. After my presentation, the League accepted the proposal to begin Hospice of East Texas with an initial funding of a whopping $30,000! I was over the top elated…jumping up and down happy as well as relieved!!

The second year began with me seeking out community leaders to be on the organizing board. We then went about forming the by-laws, choosing our name and logo, applying for a non-profit status, etc. All were enthusiastic about having hospice care for our community. It was an inspiring time for me to see these people becoming as passionate as I was about this new ministry for the Tyler area. During our first year of operation 40 years ago, I picked the first board members largely from those whom I had approached during the first year of education and research as well as those who had served on the initial organizing board. The strong foundation for Hospice of East Texas would be formed by this group.

During the first year of Hospice of East Texas’ operation, my Dad would be diagnosed with cancer. He ultimately died in our home with care from HOET. Then my mother-in-law died in our home with care from HOET. Finally, my Mother spent her last days at Home Place. What a precious gift my family has received through the ministry of this amazing organization!

I feel proud, yet humbled, that God gave me the opportunity to be a part of the founding of Hospice of East Texas.