2023 Grandparent of the Year Honorees
James E. Fuller, born in San Angelo, Texas, is a longtime Midland resident and a proud grandfather of 8. He has been involved in many facets of education: Midland College Professor for 42 years, MISD School Board Member for 33 years, and a Public Educator in Lubbock, Texas for 10 years. He has played important roles in other educational endeavors such as naming the Viola M. Coleman High School, the successful construction of Bunche Elementary, collaborating with the Coleman Plaintiff Interviewers to improve elementary facilities in MISD, and successfully helping to create single member districts in MISD, which he is most proud. His current activities include, but are not limited to, the Texas Caucus Black School Board Members, the NAACP Midland Branch, WTOS (West Texas Organizational Strategy), attending Southeast Senior Citizen Center, WTABE (West Texas Alliance of Black Educators), and Faith Warriors Outreach. Mr. Fuller’s most recent accomplishment was winning the Visionary Award from WTABE. His reason for doing what he does? “I do what I do because to remain silent and inactive is contrary to my personal commitment to improve my community, which is a room in the world house. I hope to continue being a change maker: a spokesperson and activist for equity and equality. I will continue to advocate that people should, ‘Mount up with wings as eagles; run and not be weary; walk and not faint.”
Elnora Hill, a.k.a. “Mama, Granny, Teenager, NoNo, Granny Hill”, is a lively 83-year-old whirlwind. She is the mother of five children, 14 grandchildren, and 31 great grandchildren all of whom she inspired, nurtured, and taught how to fish! Mrs. Hill has dedicated her life to her family and has been the family matriarch for two generations. One of 23 children, Mrs. Hill’s humble beginnings helped mold her into the feisty, funny, and loving grandmother we’re honoring today. Emily Thomas once said, “A legacy may be what’s left after a person is gone, but the work of making one is done while you’re still here.” Mrs. Hill’s love of family extends beyond her biological family into the community she serves. Evidence of this is seen in her volunteer activities with Foster Grandparents, Mt. Rose Women of Excellence, Washington Elementary PTA (President), Texas Size Garage Sale, Sunday School (teacher), Ministry of Hope (food service program), Foster Parent (State of Texas), and the list goes on. When asked how she made it to this point, Mrs. Hill kept it short and sweet, “the good Lord. He’s been good to me. Rely on Him. He’ll never let you down”. Character, perseverance, love of self and others – the blueprint for a life well-lived and a soul most loved.
Samuel Howard, born in Palestine, Texas, has been a resident of Midland, Texas for 67 years and is the proud grandfather to 5 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. Mr. Howard continues to spread joy and his love for Christ through an annual celebration he created and aptly calls “Family and Friends”. The impetus behind this annual celebration comes from Mr. Howard’s vision to live in a way that is pleasing to God, share His goodness with everyone he encounters, and to become more like Jesus. Mr. Howard believes that his accomplishments are determined by his relationships with his family and community. He is always looking for opportunities to give back to others, because helping others succeed and learning what fulfills them are very important to him. When asked about his goals and values, Mr. Howard had this to say, “I am proud of having overcome adversity in my early life. I always approach situations from the perspective of setting a good example for my wife, children, and grandchildren. They are still observing me. Nobody said we all had to be super heroes, wealthy, or famous. Many believe a legacy primarily refers to gifts of property or money. However, my legacy concentrates on the intangible things that are passed from generation to generation, such as values, tradition, and memories”.
Randy Lalk, is an active member of Golf Course Road Church of Christ, where he is very active in volunteer activities. He is the proud father of two boys and an even prouder grand father to two wonderful grandsons. Currently, Randy spends his time enjoying his retirement, “kid sitting” his grandchildren, assisting his son with a recent move, and volunteering with his beloved Mission Center Adult Day Service, where he plays an integral role in grant procurement and serves on the Finance Committee. Prior to retirement, Randy worked 40 years for Texaco and Chevron as a Financial Planner. During that time, he also dedicated 22 years working part-time as Manager/Treasurer for a small Texaco credit union. Randy’s parents passed along the values of working hard at everything you do and helping others in need. His mother helped take care of elders in the community. The lessons she taught Randy and his siblings, set them on a philanthropic path they live by today. Randy has dedicated over 50 years of his life and countless hours to volunteerism. He delivered Meals-on-Wheels (25 years), participated in Christmas in Action (20 years), coached youth and adult soccer (12 years) and football for the Boys and Girls Club (3 years), has been an extraordinary volunteer and supporter of Mission Center for over 15 years.
Tomasita “Tomi” Reyes, born in Villaldama, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, has been a Midlander for 18 years. She is the mother of two daughters who have blessed her with four wonderful grandchildren, all of whom bring joy to her and her husband’s hearts. Mrs. Reyes is one of 21 children. Her parents taught Tomi and her siblings to always do for others and she was reared to believe that “God puts us in this world to help each other”. She received financial aid while pursuing her education degree from Texas Tech. Having achieved such a monumental goal, volunteering became Tomi’s way of giving back. “I was given help when I needed it and I’m passing it forward. It brings me much joy to be able to contribute my skills and talents. My hope and desire is to continue to be of service to those in need”. Mrs. Reyes has been giving back ever since, excelling in everything she puts her heart and hands to. Her career and volunteer activities showcase this fact. She’s been Teacher of the Year in New Mexico (1996) and Texas (2009), a member of the Laureate Circle in New Mexico for four years, recipient of the Laureate Award for Teaching Excellence (2000), received the Bob Cornell Award for RSVP (2020), and in 2023 she was awarded the highly prestigious Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for RSVP.