A Lockhart trailblazer 


By Pat McClain-Reed


In looking for the spectacular, the brightness of the closest star is often missed. Lockhart has had many outstanding citizens.

One bright star held in high esteem and deserving of recognition as a courageous trailblazer is Florence Elizabeth Brooks-Wilborn.

Florence was born to John Brooks and Nora Childs on July 3, 1926. She was stepdaughter to Willie Hudspeth. She was raised with her brothers C.A., Lex, George and Hamilton. Florence graduated from Carver High School in Lockhart.

Florence was the First Black Female out of Lockhart to pursue a military career in the U.S. Army in 1948. She completed her Basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey, was stationed in France and New England. Her great intelligence was recognized. After four years of service and achieving the rank of Corporal, she used her G.I. Bill and graduated from Huston Tillotson College in 1957 in Austin.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in education, she began her student teaching at the Texas Blind, Deaf, Dumb and Orphan school for Colored youth in Austin. This was a segregated, all-Black school which later was integrated in the late 1960s with the all-white Texas Asylum for the Blind. The integrated school was renamed Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

In the late 1950’s, Brooks married Thomas Wilborn and accepted a job in Weimar as an elementary and middle school teacher.  She taught in Weimar until 1970 when she and the family moved to Lee County, Texas.

After taking some time away from teaching to raise a family, she decided to return to the classroom in 1975. She accepted a job in Giddings, Texas as a special education teacher and began working on her master’s degree in education. Determined to further her education, she drove 120-plus miles round trip every Saturday to attend classes at Prairie View A&M University.

During this time, Florence continued to work and raise two children while working on her advanced degree.

Florence’s life epitomized a legacy of fierceness, love and compassion, through her service to children with special needs.

On May 1, 1977, Florence received her master’s degree in education with a specialty in special education from Prairie View A & M University. On that same day, Florence had the privilege and honor to pin the Bar on her son, Anthony, who graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a degree in business administration and with a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Florence’s accomplishment and the example she put before her children was a source of pride.

In the spring of 1978, Florence developed a medical condition requiring emergency hospitalization and surgery. After a lengthy illness, she passed away on March 13, 1980 at the age of 53. Florence’s light still glows in the many children she helped to educate, as well as the three children she raised: Anthony Campbell, retired Army Major and Helicopter pilot; Mark Hamilton Wilborn, retired Houston firefighter and EMT; and Charlotte Wilborn, who currently works for Cedar Hill ISD.

Florence left an impression upon her siblings’ children, Dr. C.A. “Butch” Thomas Jr., retired Superintendent of the Beaumont ISD; Caldwell County Commissioner Daryl K. Thomas, as well as other nieces and nephews.

As we remember Florence, the truth of this quote stands as a testament of her legacy and influence: “Men and women who have lived wisely and well will shine brilliantly, like the cloudless, star-strewn night skies. And those who put others on the right path to life will glow like stars forever.” (Daniel 12:3, MSG).


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