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Houston County News - Breakout

White named ‘Lion of the Year’

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070722 white named lionLion of the Year Gary White and Lion President Miguel Benavides.

CROCKETT – Gary White was selected as the Lion of the Year for 2021-2022 for the Piney Woods Lions Club. In addition to doing an exceptional job as the club treasurer, White has been instrumental with the East Texas Food Bank (ETFB) Produce Distribution events.

He completed additional training to be a forklift operator and took on extra duties that were not required of him during the distributions. In addition, Gary applied to the Texas Lions Foundation for a grant to help those in Houston County that were affected by the tornado.

This resulted in $3,000 that was distributed through Standing with Crockett to those in need. He faithfully attends club meetings each month and participated in numerous club events.

White demonstrates Lionism every day and for this he is the club’s Lion of the Year.

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Lions, Leos participate in parade

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070722 Lion leosPiney Woods Leos and Lions participated in the Fourth of July Parade on July 2 in Crockett. Thanks to the Crockett Chamber of Commerce for taking over this event. Two of the Leos carried the American and Texas Flag, and the other Leos and Lions handed out patriotic folding flags, necklaces, and other items along the route. Back row: Vicki Melanson, Colton Aiken, Camden Aiken, Ellen Brooks, Robert Schave, Brandon Nichols, Miguel Benavides. Front row: Tony Ledesma, Alex Ledesma, Mickey Schave, Jodi Jones, Gisela Gonzalez, Sabrina Stewart, Mayra Martinez, Ariana Gonzalez.

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Recognizing a hometown hero: Col. George Lawson Keene

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070722 keene hometown hero

By Jan White
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The Downtown Crockett Association is a non-profit organization comprised of business owners and residents whose goal is to promote the revitalization and beautification of the downtown area. Recently, the group commissioned artist and owner of Filthy Gringos, Robin Ogg, to create hanging banners that memorialize several former residents of Crockett who were influential to both local and national history. One of those honorees is George Lawson Keene.

Keene was born in Crockett, on September 23, 1898, into a family quite familiar with military involvement. His great-grandfather, Edward Keene, participated in the Texas Revolution. His mother was the great-niece of General Stonewall Jackson, and his grandfather was a veteran of the Confederate Army. Keene grew up hearing stories of wars and heroes, so it came as no surprise that the 16-year-old high school graduate chose his sense of duty over higher education.

Keene had planned to enroll in his father’s alma mater, Texas A&M, but the growing war in Europe led him to follow a different path.

On March 24, 1917, Keene enlisted in the Army at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Keene received basic training during his assignment to the 9th Infantry, but after the formal declaration of war with Germany, he was reassigned to the First Division that departed for France in June of 1917. Keene was the first and youngest American combat soldier to set foot on French soil.

Keene was stationed on the front lines for over twenty-six months and took part in five major engagements. He swiftly rose through the ranks from platoon leader to Colonel. Keene’s commanding officers described him as a “born leader of men,” with “sound judgment and cheerful nature,” displaying “exceptional courage in directing his men when a hostile counter-attack was imminent.” For his multiple wounds and gassing during the battle of the Argonne Forest, Keene received the Purple Heart, and his actions in combat resulted in two Silver Stars and a Distinguished Service Cross.

Keene received the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster for his bravery and outstanding military service during his time in France. He also received the Cross of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Knights of Verdun, Tadac St. Mihiel, and the French Commemorative Medal.

Keene returned to the United States in September 1919 and was discharged at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, in March 1920. Disabled due to his wounds, Keene was able to enter a rehabilitation training program. He chose classes in watchmaking and jewelry and relocated to Dallas, where he trained at the Southwestern Watchmaking School. After working in Dallas for a year as a jeweler, Keene returned to Crockett. He married his childhood sweetheart, Dewey G.

Kennedy, on November 11, 1921. They lived for a time in Dallas, returned briefly to Crockett, and in 1926 relocated to the Goose Creek community south of Houston, where Keene continued his jewelry business.
In 1940, the 76th Congress authorized President Roosevelt to present America’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to Colonel George Lawson Keene.

Throughout his life, Keene was modest about his accomplishments. And although Keene’s history was known locally, it wasn’t until after his death in 1956, that a medal count revealed Lawson to be the most decorated soldier from World War I.

In the 1980s, an oil portrait of Keene was presented to the Houston County Historical Association in Crockett. This image of Keene was the inspiration for the banner designed by Robin Ogg.

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Longtime public servant King dies

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070722 Robert King dies

By Chris Edwards
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CROCKETT – Longtime public servant Robert “Doug” King died last week. King’s death was announced on July 1.

King served in many capacities in law enforcement, with both the Crockett Police Department and the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, where he was a deputy until his death.

Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove said that King was a dedicated public servant and that it “was an honor and a privilege to know him.”

“He will be missed by his family and friends. Houston County Courthouse won’t be the same without him. Doug was a dedicated officer, an awesome person and a true friend,” Hargrove said. “Please keep his family in your prayers in the days and weeks to come.”

In his early career, King served with the Texas Department of Public Safety, in the Houston area. He joined CPD in 1987, where he retired in 2013, before going to work for HCSO. He worked as the bailiff in the courthouse, and served with the Crockett Fire Department, as the city’s Fire Marshal, and also as a volunteer firefighter.

Crockett Chief of Police Clayton Smith said that his department was saddened to receive news of King’s passing.

“Sergeant King served with honor and dignity and was a friend to anyone he met. He always had a smile on his face. His wife and children will be in our prayers. Rest easy

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Students receive Wiley-Williams Scholarship

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063022 Wiley Willams scholarshipThe Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Tadmor is pleased to announce the recipients of the Faithful Friendly Family Scholarship in honor of retired Kennard ISD educator Mrs. Mittie Wiley-Williams for the 2021-2022 academic year. Ava Champagne plans to attend Angelina College and Texas Bible College to study Christian Counseling. Caitlyn Pyle will be attending Angelina College to major in nursing.

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