Sunday, February 16, 2014

WWII Vet Elmer Hill was on the Frontlines of the Past Century

Article By Reese Gordon
Sunday, February 16, 2014 Longview News Journal

HENDERSON — Elmer Hill walks a mile a day around the Emeritus Senior Living facility in Henderson. That might not sound like a huge accomplishment to some, but Hill is 107 years old and the second-oldest World War II veteran in the country.

Richard Overton of Austin, also 107, is the oldest living veteran and three months Hill’s senior. The two men met for the first time in December.

“I’m not old,” Hill said Thursday. “I’ve just been here a long time. The Lord has blessed me, and now my only job is to eat and sleep.”

A reception is set Tuesday in Hill’s honor at Emeritus Assisted Living, and he will receive the keys to the city.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert is among the scheduled guests.

Susan Curnutt, activities director for Emeritus in Henderson, said Hill came to live at the facility more than three years ago, having lived alone in a small brick house on Van Buren Street for several years.

“He’s the oldest person I’ve ever met,” she said. “He’s brought so much joy to the other residents. They just enjoy listening to him talk. He loves bingo, exercise and goes on all of our bus rides around Rusk County. He’s something else!”

Born Aug. 20, 1906, Hill said he grew up “in the country” just outside Henderson.

He said his father raised him to farm, planting corn and cotton.

As one of 12 boys in his family, Hill said his parents made sure he and his brothers regularly attended Lone Star Baptist Church. At church is where Hill and his brothers, “The Hill Brothers Quartet,” would sing.

“We had vocal music being taught at our little country school,” he said. “I also learned to pick on the guitar. But we didn’t have the kind of instruments children have now. But I was one of the boys who had a guitar.”

“Picking” on the guitar is a hobby Hill said he still enjoys.

He graduated from Henderson Colored High School and went to Butler College to get his teaching certificate.

He said he couldn’t remember the year, but went on to teach mathematics at Henderson Colored High School, which is now named Hill High School.

“Back then, high schools went until 11th grade,” he said. “I became the principal before being drafted into the Navy.”

Stationed “in the middle of the ocean” on an aircraft carrier for two years during World War II, Hill said he was in charge of taking orders from the captain down to the men manning mounted machine guns.

“We had one man who would load the gun and another who would shoot it,” he said. “So the captain would have me tell them when and where to shoot.”

Once the war ended, Hill said he returned home to Northeast Texas.

He said he continued teaching students in Henderson, whom Curnutt said still visit him two or three times a week.

Hill and his wife, Atha, raised two children, who live in the Dallas area.

Ray Hill, 71, Elmer’s oldest child and only son, said he remembers visiting his grandparents’ farm where his father grew up, just three miles north of Henderson on U.S. 259.

He said he and his sister, Audrey, visit their father at his community in Henderson every Tuesday.

“I was the oldest grandchild, so I was involved with picking the corn and cotton. That might be why my dad is so healthy. They grew their own food and raised their own animals. I remember them raising livestock, pigs and hogs. I used to go and see them when the weather got cold and they would butcher and process the pigs.”

Ray said his father has always been his “rock and inspiration.”

“I thank God for having a father like him,” he said. “The older he gets the more his light shines. He has inspired other people to be just like him.”

Hill didn’t get angry about racial inequality in America during the days of segregation, his son said.

“My father has always been a deeply religious man,” he said. “He could always forgive and forget. He was wise enough to know that getting angry wasn’t going to solve anything.”

Ray said his father being recognized as one of the oldest living veterans has left him speechless at times.

“Words can’t express what it really means to me,” he said. “Sometimes it is just as surprising to me as it is to other people that he has blossomed into the celebrity he is today.”

If you go
What: Ceremony honoring World War II veteran Elmer Hill

When: 1:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Emeritus Senior Living facility, 1000 W Richardson Drive, Henderson

Cost: Free

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Candidates talk Credentials at Forum for Gregg JP, Commissioner Court

Photo by Michael Cavazos, LNJ
Article by Glenn Evans
View Longview News Journal article, published Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.

Three men who hope to handle small-claims court, truancy, inquests and on-sight arrest affidavits for southern Longview and Gregg County led a political forum Thursday pledging to work hard on all fronts.

“You are not going to get one thing solved when you don’t know how the problem starts,” Pct. 4 justice of the peace candidate Phillip Burns Sr. said about tackling truancy issues that can bring a fine of up to $500 for parents. “And a lot of times, the kids are not being rehabilitated.”

Burns joined fellow Democratic opponents James Mathis and Bobby White in the NAACP forum, which included the three men running for Pct. 4 commissioner and one of two GOP commissioner candidates in Pct. 2

“We only had one person that didn’t come that we asked to come share with us, and that was the incumbent commissioner from Precinct 2 in Gregg County,” NAACP Longview Unit President Branden Johnson said of Commissioner Darryl Primo.

“He said it wasn’t important,” Johnson told 130 people in the Broughton Recreational Center. “Hey. We don’t hold our tongues in the NAACP.”

Primo did not respond to phone calls Thursday night seeking comment.

Mathis said his 32 years in Gregg County law enforcement also brought him experience teaching young people in schools and churches.

“I can educate you in proper ways to secure your home,” he added.

“I have the materials and the knowledge of referring you to resources.”

White, who called himself “your prospective employee,” said he is the only JP candidate who holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice.

White told the audience he earned commendations in 1983 from then-Gov. Bill Clements and learned his detective skills under Longview’s first black detective.

“He was my mentor,” White said. “And he recommended me for my first professional assignment down in Henderson.”

All three Pct. 4 commissioner candidates said they would back a resolution to Austin supporting Medicaid expansion in Texas.

None of the Democrats approved of the Republican-passed Texas voter ID law that faces its first serious test in the March 4 party primaries, after causing only minor glitches in November’s constitutional amendment election.

All three said they would track down economic development leads to lure restaurants and other businesses to South Longview

“We need more business and industry in Pct. 4,” incumbent Mathis said.

Hatten praised the new Cracker Barrel restaurant in the precinct but complained there is no movie theater in Pct. 4.

Brown pointed out the precinct is home to East Texas Regional Airport, where renovations are underway, and to LeTourneau University, “a world-famous university.”

“And we need to use that to create jobs,” he added.

Fish, whose forays into revitalization and economic development in Longview-bound Pct. 2 led her into the race, pointed out the mission statement in the county budget urges cooperation to achieve those goals.

“Forward thinking, forward planning is critical if we’re going to be the hub of the wheel that turns East Texas,” she said.

“We have so many resources that the rest of the state is interested in.”

Friday, February 7, 2014

THE NAACP in Hollywood and Online

The NAACP Image Awards, airing Feb. 22, 2014, is the nation's premier event celebrating exemplary works by, for, and relevant to people of color and individuals or groups who promote diversity in the arts (motion picture, television, recording, and literature).

There is no other organization that has confronted the misuse of media to influence negative public attitudes toward race like the NAACP. As early as 1915, it organized a nationwide protest against the negative portrayals of African Americans in “Birth of A Nation.”

The founding members of the Association immediately understood the power and influence of the then new media of film. Read more.

- See more about the Image Awards at:

The event is broadcast on TV One.  Learn more about TV One, a trusted storyteller and voice of black culture:

The network celebrates Black life 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To find out what channel TV One is available on in your area, please enter your zip code and choose your TV service provider:  

Find the channel on YouTube: 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

NAACP Scholarship Opportunities

Each year the NAACP, through generous donations, is able to provide scholarships to outstanding students. It is the duty of our dedicated Scholarship Committee to determine the most outstanding individuals to receive these awards. The NAACP does not provide financial aid to individuals, only scholarships through this process.

For All Scholarship Information please have the students go to POISE FOUNDATION web site (

Apply by gathering the following materials:

  • copy of your NAACP membership card or membership application
  • official transcript
  • two letters of recommendation from a teachers or professors in the major field of specialization (Willems only)
  • a one-page essay
  • your student aid report
  • evidence of acceptance or full-time enrollment
Read more at the NAACP website:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Voices of the People's History: Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

Actress Alfre Woodard performs a very moving piece from abolitionist, women's rights proponent, and former slave Sojourner Truth that was originally delivered in 1851. Yep, before the Civil War, before the right to vote for anybody but white men.  Listen to her voice and passion, a legacy which is a treasure to behold.  

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?
Delivered 1851
Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio