Whit is 7 years old and in the first grade at Fasken Elementary. Whit has two younger brothers, Will (6) and Waylon (3), and is the son of Sharla and Brian Gray of Midland. Brian was raised in Kingwood and Sharla grew up in Odessa and is a 1998 graduate of Permian High School. The Grays have resided in Midland for the past 11 years.
When Whitten was 3.5 years old and attending mother’s day out at Grace Lutheran, he was diagnosed with Pre-B ALL (Childhood Leukemia). After undergoing over 3 years of chemotherapy and other treatments, his port was surgically removed in June 2016. YEA!!! Though Whit no longer gets treatments, his doctors continue to closely monitor his health with monthly blood draws and physician checkups. He always amazes the new nurses that get to pull his blood as he sits there with a smile on his face the entire time as they expect this sweet child to kick and scream. He has been through so much; surgeries, pokes and prods, travel, long waits, and through it all with the support of friends and family and our wonderful community; Whit has grown from a cute toddler into a handsome young boy with a glowing and infectious sweet personality. He has taken it all in stride and he even told us recently he misses his chemo treatments because he doesn’t get to see the team of doctors and nurses at Midland Memorial and Cook Children’s in Fort Worth that he loves so much.
Today Whit is cancer free and enjoys a normal childhood playing coach pitch baseball, basketball, and golf. He loves to go to school and learn and meet new friends and does not have a mean bone in his body. As his parents, we are honorsed to have the incredible responsibility of raising this child, as we know the Good Lord has big plans for him.
We are so thankful for organizations such as the American Cancer Society for increasing awareness and raising funds that support the research and treatments of the many cancers that affect our loved ones. We were told early on in the treatment that if Whit was a child in the 60’s with Leukemia he had less than a 10% survival rate. But today, due to the advances in technology and improved treatment practices and understanding of the disease, he has an over 90% cure rate. The 60’s were not that long ago! And on that note, the one thing we learned through all of this is that beating Cancer does not have anything to do with life of death, it has everything to do with the Fight!
Billy Robert Hext, 61, of Odessa, came into this world on August 25th, 1939, in Pampa, Texas to John Cecil and Mildred McPherson Hext, and he went home to be with his Lord on June 20, 2001. Bill suffered from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma for 10 years. While we miss him greatly, we rejoice in the assurance that he is now with Jesus in his heavenly home.
His love for Odessa began at the age of 10. After graduating from Odessa High School in 1957, he served in the Marine Reserve for eight years. Bill married Melanie Jane Murrell of Odessa, his wife of 42 years, on Feb. 3, 1959.
Bill’s career was spent in the oil industry. After serving several years as President of Woolley Tool and its parent company, Chromalloy, Bill left to found PEP Inc. with long-time friend and partner, B.D. Berryhill of Odessa from 1981-1997. Bill managed a thriving business throughout the ups and downs of the oil industry. In 1997, Bill and B.D. sold PEP Inc. to National Oilwell Corp. Bill and Jane established the Hext Family Foundation and Heritage Family Limited Partnership in June 1998. The foundations purpose is to advance cancer research, promote vocational education and support Christian charities. The foundation serves as a perpetual example of the generous spirit of Bill Hext. Bill’s new business ventures included Positive Impact Waste Procedures Inc., Legacy Golf Corporation, Heritage Properties and Vista Residential Development Corp.
In 1998, Bill continued to serve the community he loves as city council man from District 2. Two years later, Bill was elected mayor of Odessa. Bill loved representing the people of Odessa, and he did so with great humor, love and compassion. His visionary leadership and his efforts to unify Odessa and Midland are highlights of his political legacy.
To all his endeavors, Bill brought his faith. He was a member and served as an elder of Grace Christian Fellowship Church. He proudly told of his relationship with Christ and how it shaped his life and his family.
Bill is survived by: his wife Jane, his two daughters, Melinda Spencer and her husband Time of Midland, and Susan Palmer and her husband Mark also of Midland, his parents, Cecil and Mildred Hext of Odessa: his sisters, Kay Murry of Eastland, TX and Edna Williams of Mexia Texas; and five grandchildren, Ben, Andres, and Rachel Spencer, and Preston and Samuel Palmer.
Within the hearts of his family, friends, business associates and many, many more, Bill Lives on. The good seeds he has planted during his time here will continue to grow and be a blessing.
Although she used to be known as “Tatum’s Mom,” Marcy Hubbard has definitely taken on her own identity, especially to television viewers in West Texas. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2004, she allowed her courageous battle with the disease to be chronicled by her daughter on CBS 7 News. From diagnosis to treatment, money concerns to hair loss…every step of the journey was detailed with humor and an honest assessment of what breast cancer is really about.
Marcy believes her journey can be used to help others who may one day be diagnosed with breast cancer. Her story was so moving, she was received the 2004 Courage Award from the American Cancer Society of Texas. She continues to talk about the importance of early detection and strength of character as we battle this disease.
Marcy has one daughter, Tatum, two precious granddaughters and two dogs. She continues to work full time for the same doctor she’s put up with for more than 40 years. She has spent countless hours volunteering for the Permian Basin Fair and Special Olympics.
Betty Lou Whitmire Sumner, born July 28, 1939, spent most of her life in Midland, Texas developing a rich life as a community volunteer and leader. Betty’s family, pioneering Midland residents, lived on a farm at the site of the former Manning’s Nursery on Golf Course Road; they then moved to the E.J. Neathery Ranch in Ector County. She graduated from Odessa High School in 1956 and from Rice University in 1960 with a degree in Economics and Business Administration. She taught elementary school in Kermit and Midland and was a secretary at the Western Company. On April 20, 1963, she married William Ulric Sumner.
As a stay-at-home mother of three, Sara Renee Sumner, Nancy Sumner Pannell, and John Whitmire Sumner, Betty began her career as a community volunteer, serving on and leading numerous community boards running the gamut from fine arts to education to health to city government. Included were City of Midland Planning and Zoning Commission, First United Methodist Church, the United Way, Midland Memorial Foundation, and Trinity School. She served as president of the Junior League of Midland, chairman of the Midland Hospital Board of Trustees, Hospice Midland, and the Aphasia Center of West Texas.
In 2003, Betty was diagnosed with primary peritoneal carcinoma. The first symptoms were vague and camouflaged by the stress of moving and recent loss of her mother, so she was in a daze with the diagnosis of cancer after checking into the hospital for pain. Because this is a rare form of cancer, Betty traveled to M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas for treatment with Dr. Charles Levenback. After ten year of off and on treatment, Betty became an inspiration to others fighting cancer and to her doctor and his staff as well. She made each visit an opportunity to connect on a personal level with those who treated her during her battle. When the cancer recurred after three years of remission, she realized that it had, in her words, “become a game of containment and ‘living with cancer.’” And she chose to enjoy her life with her family and friends, especially the Lunch Bunch consisting of Suzy Boldrick, Sara Fry, Barbara Jowell, Louan Rogers, Donnette Schwisow, and Mary Jane Young. She even continued all of her volunteer work because that gave her joy. Betty died on June 1, 2012.
For more than a 100 years, The American Cancer Society has been leading the fight to end cancer. With your support, we have helped usher in an era where more people survive cancer than ever before. By translating our research findings into action, we've seen a 20% decline in US cancer death rates since the early 1990s. Join us to help finish the fight.
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