In 2015 the “Celebrate Our Seniors” program celebrated its 12th year of service to the community. During an awards program on Saturday, August 8th, four Washington County senior citizens were honored for their decades of commitment and service to their communities. The honorees included Loetha M. Breedlove, Julia Johnson, Louise Newman, and Ethel Fletcher Randle.
Over 300 people attended this year's awards presentations. They were served a fabulous meal from DB's BBQ and entertained with live gospel music from the Original Spiritual Travelers of Houston. Additionally, healthcare information was presented by representatives from Golden Years Healthcare. The program wrapped up with Bingo in which gifts and prizes totaling $500.00 were awarded, based on generous donations from individuals, churches, organizations, and businesses.
(left to right) Louise Newman, Ethel Fletcher Randle, Loetha M. Breedlove, Julia Johnson
Loetha M. Breedlove
As she has been all her life, Mrs. Loetha "Doll" Breedlove continues to be active in all aspects of life in Grimes and Washington counties. Although she was born and raised in Washington County, her home was close to Navasota (Grimes County) and she attended schools there, graduating from George Washington Carver High School in Navasota.
After high school, she continued her education by pursuing studies in cosmetology at the Franklin Beauty School in Houston. There, she earned her beautician's license and subsequently established a practice in Brenham, becoming the first licensed African American beautician in Washington County. She also expanded her reach through service to patients in various nursing homes, including Navasota Nursing Home.
From those platforms, she became active and well known in numerous voluntary, professional, religious, and civic organizations. As a result of these and countless other contributions to her community, Mrs. Breedlove has been presented numerous community service awards and special recognitions.
A loyal and dedicated family member, she selflessly served as primary caretaker for her parents during their later years. Mrs. Breedlove is a lifetime member of Mercy Seat Missionary Baptist Church, where she has served as president of BYPU and church choir, as well as secretary of Sunday school. She is married to Mr. Eddie "T" Breedlove.
Mrs. Julia Johnson understood the value of an education at an early age, spiritually and scholastically. She was born in Chappell Hill, accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior at an early age, continually studies His Word, and to this day maintains her faith as a strong, God-fearing believer in Jesus Christ.
Very independent minded, Mrs. Johnson sought to maintain her independence at an early age by working in the cotton fields. She immediately recognized, however, that a better pursuit of independence was through further education. She graduated from C.H. Hogan School in Chappell Hill, and then Pickard High School in Brenham. She went on to earn a Bachelor and Master's degree in education from Prairie View A&M University.
With degree in hand, she returned to C.H. Hogan School in Chappell Hill where she taught math and science to students in 4th through 6th grade. Subsequently, she transferred to Alton Elementray School in Brenham, where she taught math and science to 3rd graders. Throughout her teaching profession, Mrs. Johnson was active in the community. As a political activist, she worked on a number of community issues, including incorporation of the City of Chappell Hill. As an active member of her church, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Chappell Hill, she is involved with the Missionary Society and has served as a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher. She is also quite active in other church ministries and programs. Mrs. Johnson is a Matron for Beacon Light Court #30 in Fort Worth, Texas.
A world traveler, a prolific reader, and an avid dominoes player, Mrs. Johnson has a unique hobby of collecting butterflies. She is married to Mr. C.W. Johnson, whom she met in college.
Growing up in small farming communities, Mrs. Louise Newman learned the meaning of industriousness early in life. She was born in Clay Station and when her father died (she was 8 years old at the time), she and remaining family members moved to Independence to live with her grandmother. There, she attended Independence Baptist Church while graduating from schools in Brenham.
After marrying her husband, George Tommy Newman, they became members of First Baptist Church in Brenham, She has been a faithful member there for over 50 years. It was at home and in church where Mrs. Newman began to hone her skills in industrious service to God and community. Over the years, she has taught Sunday school, led numberous girl's organizations, and served on innumerable church committees.
In the desire to give even more back to her community, Mrs. Newman has been equally service-minded outside of home and church. She is a founding member of the William Penn Home Demonstration Club and during 59 years of service in the club, she has held virtually every office, including on its councils and committees. In recognition of her selfless service, Mrs. Newman has been presented numerous awards: 1968 District Homemaker of the Year, 1991 Lifetime Homemaker, 1999 Homemaker of the Year for the State of Texas, 2001 Outstanding EE Club Member, 2006 50-Year Award, 2011 55-Year Award, and 2013 County and District Texas Treasure Award. She presently serves as the club reporter.
Mrs. Newman brought this same level of service to the Washington County Fair, where she has served over 50 years. Part of her industriousness and resourcefulness involved projects related to canning, freezing, upholstery, and clothing. Over the years she has won numerous Grand Champion Ribbons and judged a number of 4-H events. And as a 4-H leader, she has taught classes in serving, cooking, and related activities. Presently she is sewing burp-pads and bags for New Beginnings Pregnancy Center.
Mrs. Newman also finds time to be active in other clubs and organizations, including the American Legion, the Disabled Veterans, the Independence Historical Society, and with several volunteer fire departments.
Ethel Fletcher Randle
Dedicated commitment and quiet service epitomize the role Mrs. Ethel Fletcher Randle has played, and continues to play, in Brenham and Washington County. This is likely due to her upbringing, being the daughter of a Pastor, Rev. Walter Fletcher, and First Lady, Mrs. Rosa Lee Fletcher.
Mrs. Randle was educated at Alton Elementary School and Pickard High School in Brenham. She later attended Prairie View A&M University where she completed an Associate Degree in the ManPower Training Associate program. Upon completion of the progam, she was employed in the Office of Teacher Certification and Student Teaching at Prairie View A&M University.
After several years at Prairie View, Mrs. Randle returned to Brenham to continue her profession. She began by becoming the first African American woman to work as a utility clerk for the City of Brenham. Subsequently, she served in numerous other capacities in city government, eventually becoming the city's assistant personnel director. After retiring from full-time service with the City of Brenham, Mrs. Randle then began part-time service as a library clerk at the Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Library.
Mrs. Randle has been just as active in her church. As a member of St. John A.M.E. Church, she serves as a Class Leader, the Missionary secretary, the Lay Secretary, an Inspirational Choir member, a Celestial Choir member, the Pastor's Aide, and a member of the Kitchen Ministry staff. On the civic side, Mrs. Randle is actively involved with the Goodfellows, the A.R. Pickard High School Reunion Association, the Brenham Progressive Women Club, the Washington County Leadership Institute, Citizens on Patrol, and the Brenham Activist Association (founding member).
Rounding out (but not ending) her selfless service, Mrs. Randle is actively involved in the Section 8 Rental Assistance program, the USDA Commodity program, and the Morning Sunshine Gospel program. It is no wonder that Mrs. Randle's favorite song is, "May The Work I've Done Speak For Me."