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Dr. Darlene  Westbrook

Memorial for Dr. Darlene Westbrook

Born in Athens, Texas on Oct. 17, 1949
Departed on May 23, 2014 and resided in Austin, TX.
Visitation: Thursday, May 29, 2014
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Service: Friday, May 30, 2014
11:00 am
Cemetery: Barker Cemetery
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.

Darlene Renfro Westbrook was born in Athens, Texas on October 17, 1949, the third child of Earlia and Lewis Renfro, Sr. She received her early education in the Athens Public Schools and excelled in academics, graduating with honors in 1968. Darlene received her early religious training at Mt. Providence Baptist Church in Athens.

She enrolled in Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), Nacogdoches, Texas and became the first recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Scholarship Award. Darlene graduated from SFASU in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She was a charter member of the first African-American sorority at SFASU, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In 1969, while a student at SFASU, she married her long-time sweetheart, Gilson Westbrook, and they shared 45 years together.

Darlene became the first African American to teach at Montclair Elementary School in Corpus Christi, Texas. After moving to Austin in 1974, she began her career with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) as a teacher at Oak Hill Elementary, and after five years of teaching, she was promoted to Assistant Principal and Principal at Oak Hill. She later moved into administration with AISD, and during this time she earned a Master of Arts in Education from Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas. Darlene returned to her hometown of Athens in 1985 and became its first African-American principal and district administrator since integration of the Athens Public Schools in 1965.

Upon her return to Austin in 1989, Darlene was selected by AISD as the principal at Lamar Middle School. She later returned to her career as a district administrator with AISD, and earned a Doctorate in Education Administration from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. During her career with AISD, she served as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Area Superintendent, Associate Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, and Chief Academic Officer. Darlene received recognition for her work, including the University Council for Education Excellence in Leadership Award, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus' Outstanding Texan Award, the Paul R. Hensarling Distinguished Doctoral Student Award for Academic Achievement, the Huston-Tillotson University's Educator of the Year Award, the YWCA Woman of the Year Award, and the Texas Congress of PTA Exemplary Principal Award.

Darlene shared her many talents and skills through many civic, community, and professional affiliations. She was a member of the Austin Chapter of the Links, Inc., Bible Study Fellowship, the Black Administrators Council, the Austin Association of Black Educators, the American Educational Research Association, Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

She was a member of Zion Rest Missionary Baptist Church, serving as a Sunday School Teacher, member of the Women's Ministry, Titus II Book Club member, and a major contributor to the Bible Time Ministry for 2-6 year olds.

She provided words of encouragement and was an inspiration to all she met. She shared her experience and expertise, and mentored her family, friends, teachers, principals, administrators and others in the education field.

Darlene often stated that the high quality education she received changed her life and opened doors of opportunities throughout her life as an educator, wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, mentor, and friend to many.

She departed this life on May 23, 2014. Darlene was preceded in death by her mother Earlia Mae Renfro. She is survived by her devoted husband, Gilson Westbrook; father Lewis Renfro, Sr., Houston, Texas; two sons Nicholas Westbrook, Austin, Texas and Darrell Westbrook (Karen), Washington, D.C.; one daughter Deidre Shelton (Darius), Garland, Texas; three grandchildren, Tyus Westbrook, Sydney Shelton, and Simon Shelton; two sisters Wanda Renfro Hasley, Austin, Texas and Cindy Renfro, Stafford, Texas; three brothers Lewis Renfro, Jr., Keller, Texas, Dennis Renfro, Arlington, Texas, and Mark Renfro, Houston, Texas; one aunt Zula Clewis, Dallas, Texas; special nephews James Hasley (Sheila) and Martin Renfro; and grand nieces Sarah and Claire Hasley. She also leaves to celebrate her life other family members, her church family, her friends, and others whose lives she touched.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting memorial contributions in her honor to:
SFASU Alumni Association Foundation
Darlene Renfro Westbrook Martin Luther King Jr. Award Endowment Fund
P. O. Box 6096
Nacogdoches, Texas 75962

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