Two former Lufkin business owners inducted into Business Hall of Fame

Two former Lufkin business owners inducted into Business Hall of Fame

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Irma Newsom Franklin and Austin Brookshire are the two most recent inductees into the Angelina County Business Hall of Fame.

The two were honored at a special meeting at Lufkin's Kurth Memorial Library on Thursday.

Franklin was born January 29, 1915. She is considered a pioneer businesswoman and civic leader.

Her father, W. D. Newsom, was a partner in a business making ice cream and bottling beer until 1905 when he bought out his partner and purchased the franchise to bottle and distribute Coca-Cola in Angelina, Polk and Trinity Counties. Mrs. Franklin joined the company on 1952 and became President of Lufkin Coca-Cola Bottling Company in 1962, presiding over the company until 2000 when her son “Bim” took the title.

When Angelina College was founded, she started a nursing scholarship in her father's name for a deserving student from the three county area served by the company.

She was a 1932 graduate of Lufkin High School and attended Dodd College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Mrs. Franklin was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

She served as the first female member of the Board of Directors of First State Bank of Lufkin and a member of the Board of Republic Bank, Lufkin Service League and St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church.

Mrs. Franklin had two children, Jean Franklin Dillahunty and Barney Marshall Franklin, Jr. The company her father founded is now ran by her granddaughter Lynne Haney. Haney said her inspiration to run the business came from Franklin.

"There was never any question," Haney said. "I had no thoughts of going anywhere else. This is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and follow in her footsteps."

Austin Brookshire was born in Angelina County August 18th, 1888.

The history of the Brookshire family parallels that of many early settlers to East Texas – many of them born in log cabins and all knew the hard life of a poor East Texas farm.

Austin, the oldest of six brothers, and Tom worked as farm hands, in sawmills, chopped railroad ties, cut logs, laid steel and taught in various country schools before deciding to enter the grocery business.

In 1921, Austin and brother Tom, both veterans of WW1, pooled their money to enter the grocery business with a small store in Lufkin. This was Brookshire #1 on the square in downtown Lufkin known by many as “Spit and Whittle”.

In 1928 the Brookshire family decided to form a company group and worked toward a common goal – thus, Brookshire Bros was formally founded.

In 1929, Wood Brookshire withdrew from the company taking with him four stores in Tyler, this was the start of the Brookshire stores which operate independently of Brookshire Bros.

Today almost 1,250 of Brookshire Bros employees work right in Angelina County and its assets include 149 retail outlets incorporating grocery stores, convenience stores, as well as free standing pharmacy, tobacco and petro locations. Today its market stretches east to Lake Charles, Louisiana, west to Wimberley, Texas, north to Whitesboro, Texas, and south to Ganado, Texas. They are 7000 employee-owners strong.

Brookshire's family say even though the times have changed, the philosophy Austin started is still seen today.

"Things change with different generations, but it really just comes down to treating the customers and employees with respect," Brent Brookshire said.

Official plaques honoring the two will be put on display after the first of the year in the main hall way of the Kurth Memorial Library.

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