Texas launches 102 Club on Talking Book Program's 75th anniversary
On March 22, 2006, the Texas Talking Book Program held a celebration in the Texas State Capitol to commemorate its 75th anniversary and inaugurate its 102 Talking-Book Club. Texas dignitaries, volunteers, and honored guests assembled to mark the auspicious occasion.
Ava Smith, director of the Texas Talking Book Program, opened the ceremony and introduced Carolyn Hoover Sung, chief of the NLS Network Division. Sung spoke about the NLS mission of promoting reading as an enriching lifetime activity. She noted that in 1931, Texas was among the first states to join the national network of cooperating libraries, and she commended the program's staff for their innovative management and operations.
Sandra Pickett, chair of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, read the commission's resolution endorsing the creation of the 102 Club. On behalf of Texas governor Rick Perry, Pat Pound, executive director of the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities, read a proclamation supporting the creation of the 102 Club and recognizing the contributions of the talking-book program.
Two volunteer narrators for the Texas Talking Book Program read excerpts from books they have recorded. Dianna Dorman, who has volunteered for ten years with the program and recorded eleven books, said, "Volunteering is the most enjoyable thing I do." Dorman read excerpts from The Captured by Scott Zesch and One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer. Volunteer Pilar Raymond, who has narrated books for three years and recorded six books, read excerpts in Spanish from Horacio Vázquez-Rial's Frontera Sur, a novel relating Argentina's nineteenth- and twentieth-century history through the experiences of one family.
Following the readings, Smith and Sung recognized the seventeen Texas centenarians to be inducted into the 102 Club. Talking book patron Dr. Herbert Westphal of Cleburne, Texas, who is one hundred years old, attended the ceremony with his daughter Earline Miller, granddaughter Jeanice Mitchell, and great-grandchildren Mia and Marley Mitchell. Sung welcomed Westphal into the 102 Club by presenting him with a 102 certificate, a lapel pin, and a letter from NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke.
Westphal, a retired doctor, has been a patron of the program since 2002, when his eyesight began to deteriorate. He is a fan of history books and biographies and favors Abraham Lincoln and George Washington as characters to study. He also enjoys reading the Bible and says that he turns to the book of Esther when he wants to hear a good story. Dividing his reading between the talking-book program and his church library, Westphal says that he reads three or four audiobooks a month.
Born on July 21, 1905, to Seventh-Day Adventist missionaries in Puigguri, Argentina, Westphal lived in Argentina until his eighteenth birthday, when he emigrated to the United States to escape the Argentine military draft. All of his undergraduate education was in Spanish, which would help him later in life when he treated Mexican immigrants on the Texas-Mexico border. Westphal attended Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, and received his medical degree from the College of Medical Evangelists, which is now Loma Linda University. While in medical school, Westphal met nurse Amy Reed, to whom he was married for nearly seventy years. After medical school the couple moved to Texas to be near Reed's brother and his wife.
In 1930, Westphal established a medical practice in Weslaco, Texas, and helped start a hospital. During World War II, he served as an army surgeon in Austria. After retiring from his formal practice in 1975, Westphal spent years in Africa doing medical relief work. In 1989, he moved to Cleburne, Texas. Westphal remains active in his community and still travels to Argentina to celebrate events with his family. He returned to Argentina in 1994 to mark the 100th anniversary of his church and again in 1998 to observe the centennial of the high school he attended. Westphal greatly appreciated hearing the Spanish excerpt from Frontera Sur about the history of Argentina and hoped to journey back to his birthplace in April 2006 for a family reunion. At the 102 Club induction ceremony he said, "I appreciate your kindness in including me today. Reading talking books means so much to me. Thank you for all you do for me."
The sixteen other Texas inductees will receive their 102 Club materials by mail. They include thirteen women and three men who range in age from 100 to 105 years old. They come from all across the state, with inductees in El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Texarkana, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley. Their centuries of living have exposed them to experiences that few others can now claim. One-hundred-year-old Effie Adkins from El Paso, Texas, remembers riding a street car to school when the Americans were fighting Pancho Villa and his Dorados cavalry. Martelia Reaves, 103, also of El Paso, recalls being shocked and startled at her first sight of an automobile on the road.