Brookshire Grocery Co. was honored Tuesday night with the T.B. Butler Award as Tyler's most outstanding citizen of 2012.

The 85-year-old company received the award at the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting, An Evening in Rose City, attended by a sold-out record crowd of about 600 people at the Harvey Convention Center.

"This year's T.B. Butler Award recipients truly meet the test of the best attributes of leadership, generosity and focus of purpose," Nelson Clyde, publisher of the Tyler Morning Telegraph and president of the T.B. Butler Publishing Co., said. "Our recipient has called Tyler home for many generations. The impact it has had on the daily lives of Tylerites may arguably be the most consistent and necessary of any longtime member of the community."

The T.B. Butler Award, presented by the T.B. Butler Publishing Co., was first presented in 1929. It was established in the memory of the founder of T.B. Butler Publishing Co. Inc., the late Judge T.B. Butler, and his son, the late Tom Butler Jr. Award recipients are selected for outstanding contributions in leadership, service or community improvements.

"It has been a privilege for our family to present this award each year at the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce banquet to encourage aspirations of leadership, contributions of citizenship and to recognize significant acts of service," Clyde said.

This year there was something that stood out that Clyde said he hopes is an encouragement to other individuals and organizations to emulate the selflessness and community spirit behind this year's selection.

With its World War II Heroes Flights, Brookshire Grocery Co. has taken 195 World War II veterans to Washington D.C. to tour the capitol and World War II memorial. The company will soon leave again with its seventh trip. These flights are complimentary to the veterans and the company's management team, staff and shareholders have been front and center to push wheelchairs and put these veterans in a place of honor, Clyde said, adding that the program is exemplary.

Brookshire Grocery Co.'s Chairman of the Board Brad Brookshire said the company started the Heroes Flights in 2010.

"World War II veterans are our greatest generation and they are our true heroes," he said. "To be there with them, hear their stories … it's something special."

Brookshire said 99.9 percent of the veterans have never seen the World War II memorial built in 2004 and "it's our country's way of honoring them."

Brookshire said the company has been in business for 85 years because his grandfather believed in having the very best people.

"This is a special award," he said. "On behalf of our many partners, employees at Brookshire Grocery Company, we are honored to accept this award."

Brad Brookshire's grandfather, Wood T. Brookshire, opened a small store on Sept. 1, 1928 in downtown Tyler. By 1939, there were three stores in Tyler and in the 1940s, he added stores in neighborhood communities.

In 1961, Brookshire's had two stores open in Shreveport. A 175,000-square-foot distribution center opened in Tyler to better accommodate a growing number of stores. The most popular addition of the 1970s was a wildlife museum at the corporate offices, with animals the Brookshires brought from safaris in Africa.

The first Arkansas store opened in 1978. Brookshire's and its employees survive the recession of the 1980s and even managed to add some stores and double to size of its distribution center. Healthy growth continued in the 1990s, with the purchase of a dairy plant in Tyler, a distribution facility in Monroe, La., another office and warehousing complex north of Tyler and further expansion of the company's headquarters. A plant began manufacturing Goldenbrook Farms ice cream in 1997.

Brookshire Grocery Co. has 119 supermarkets in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, as well as FRESH by Brookshire's in Tyler. The supermarkets include Brookshire's, Super 1 Foods and Ole Foods. The business also has three Express Lane and one Zippy B convenience store. There are 117 pharmacies, 86 fuel centers, 13,800 employees, or partners, and several distribution and manufacturing facilities.

Brookshire Grocery Co. is engaged with local communities through the Community Connections program. Partners volunteered have logged in 38,000 hours so far in 2013, assisting schools and nonprofit groups. It hosts the Spirit of Christmas Food Drive and in 2013, Brookshire's Benefit Golf Tournament raised a record-breaking $440,000 for children's charities.



Eleno Licea received the W.C. Windsor Award.

"This is so unbelievable … this is something I never dreamed of," Licea said. "People talk about the American dream … I'm living it every single day."

Past W.C. Windsor Award recipient Neal Katz presented him with the award.

The W.C. Windsor Award is presented in conjunction with the W.C. Windsor family to honor an outstanding Tyler citizen younger than 40. The award was started in 1952 by the late W.C. Windsor with the purpose of encouraging leadership and community service among young people.

"This person is an example of why our community is so strong now and why we should be so optimistic for our future," Katz said of Licea. "It is people like this who give us pride in our community.

Licea, 36, owner of the Licea Insurance Group, came to the U.S. from Mexico as a young child with his parents and seven siblings. He attended Tyler Junior College and The University of Texas at Tyler, where he was the first in his family to obtain a degree. He completed the MBA's School of Mortgage Banking in 2007, and holds active real estate, securities, insurance and mortgage banking licenses. He began his career as a mortgage lending officer at Southside Bank and in 2008, started his own business as an insurance agent. He has been asked by several groups to serve as a mentor to people starting their careers and/or businesses.

Licea has been involved in Boy Scouts of America, served on the City of Tyler Planning and Zoning Commission, served on the board of the Tyler Independent School District, Tyler Chamber, Bethesda Health Clinic and East Texas Medical Center; and has been involved in several other organizations.

He played a key role in the formation and initial operation of the Hispanic Business Alliance and has served as its chairman. He was presented the Knight of Nobility Award from the Junior League of Tyler in 2006. Licea also was named the 2004 U.S. Small Business Administration Dallas/Fort Worth Region Minority Business Champion first runner up.

"God has blessed me," Licea said. "God bless this country. I love it."



The Large Business of the Year Award was accepted by John Soules Foods Inc. The home grown company has become the largest beef and chicken fajita brand in the U.S., with a retail shelf presence at more than 17,000 stores in 50 states.

"We're very excited to be here … we're always excited to be a part of the Tyler community," John Soules Jr., president and co-chief executive officer, said.

He said their employees are second to none and have put the company in the position it is in today.

John Soules Sr. said "you can't create something out of nothing. You have to do it with hard work." Who would have ever dreamed the little company that started in a 12-by-12 building would be able to achieve what it has been able to do, he asked.

"This is a great award but the greatest reward we've had is to be a business in East Texas and Tyler," he said.

The company began operations in Tyler as Country Jim's Meats in 1974. The name was changed to John Soules Foods Inc. in 1984. The company has expanded several times through the years. Sales revenue for 2013 is on pace to exceed $185 million and they have more than 500 employees. Its major retail customers include Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Kroger, Brookshire's and Albertson's.

The Small Business of the Year Award was received by Jim Toman Insurance. The independent insurance agency in Tyler represents more than a dozen insurance companies. Jim Toman has been in the insurance business for 30 years. He started in 1984 with Allstate in Houston and in 2002, moved to Tyler and purchased an Allstate agency, which he sold in 2007 to start the independent agency.

"To all of you I say thank you," Toman said. "This is an honor I will always cherish."

The Tyler Chamber's Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Ed Thompson, of North Chase Development, for giving unselfishly of his time and talents to promote the mission and work for the Chamber. Thompson was unable to attend the event.

Cindy Smoak received the Mary Howes Award, which was created to honor a contact club member who showed outstanding performance in membership development, has been a member of the club for at least three years and achieved a minimum of five production awards.

Ms. Smoak, who has earned 24 production awards, said selling the Tyler Chamber is probably one of the easiest thing's she has ever done.



Tyler Chamber Chairwoman Mary Elizabeth Jackson said the banquet served as the official unveiling of the new children's book by the Junior League of Tyler, Goodnight Rose City.

"The story takes you across our city and many of the sites and programs that have become a reality because of the private, public and business partnerships in our community – often led many times by volunteers," she said.

The books were on sale at the event and 100 percent of the book's proceeds will go to community programs. "This reinvestment level is a first in our country for such a project and one that you will be hearing more about," Mrs. Jackson said.

The membership meeting and banquet highlighted the accomplishments of the Tyler Chamber's fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Mrs. Jackson, outgoing chairwoman, was given a plaque for her year of service after introducing incoming Chairwoman Rosemary Jones.

Chairman-elect Charles Hill, as well as the Chamber's new officers, council chairmen and directors for 2013-14, were also introduced. Seven board members who retired after three years of serving were recognized.

Sponsors include the: T.B Butler Publishing Co.; AT&T; Austin Bank; city of Tyler; Core Insights; The Genecov Group; One Realtor Center; Prothro, Wilhelmi and Co.; Southside Bank; Suddenlink; Texas Bank and Trust; The University of Texas at Tyler; UT Health Northeast; TXU Energy; and Tyler Junior College.



2011 to 2000:

2011 Louis and Peaches Owen; 2010 Stephen Dement; 2009 Dr. Gary T. Kimmel; 2008 Jerome R. Milton; 2007 Mr. and Mrs. Harold Beaird; 2006 James I. Perkins and his wife, Margaret H. Perkins; 2005 Amy and Vernon Faulconer; 2004 Anwar Khalifa and Rabbi Neal Katz; 2003 Anita Ardinger Ray; 2002 Dr. David Nichols; 2001 Kevin Eltife; 2000 Joseph Z. and Louise Ornelas.

1999 to 1990:

1999 Elizabeth Fritter McNally; 1998 Cowan Center project at The University of Texas at Tyler; 1997 Dr. George A. Hurst; 1996 Norman Shtofman; 1995 Herbert C. Buie; 1994 Randall L. Roberts and John Tyler Football Team (Special); 1993 Dr. James M. Vaughn; 1992 Junior League of Tyler; 1991 B.G. Hartley and Billie Hartley; 1990 Don Chaney.

1989 to 1980: 1989 George W. Oge; 1988 Lottie Ray Caldwell; 1987 Buddy Story; 1986 United Rubber Workers Local 746; 1985 James W. Arnold, Willie Lee Glass; 1984 James Borgerding; 1983 James C. Wynne Jr.; 1982 Louise Lindsey Merrick; 1981 James W. Fair; 1980 Charles L. Childers.

1979 to 1970: 1979 C.C. McDonald; 1978 Shirley Simons Jr.; 1977 Dick Hightower, Earl Campbell (Special); 1976 William M. Shamburger, Kelly Spratlin (Special); 1975 Harry Loftis; 1974 Isadore Roosth; 1973 John A. Warner, Frank Martin (Special); 1972 Floyd Wagstaff; 1971 Henry M. Bell Jr.; 1970 Mrs. W.G. Watson.

1969 to 1960: 1969 D.K. Caldwell, Robert J. Phillips; 1968 A.W. Riter Jr.; 1967 Earl Andrews; 1966 Mrs. W.C. Windsor; 1965 Connally McKay, F.O. Penn; 1964 J. Harold Stringer; 1963 Jerry Nasits; 1962 George Pirtle; 1961 Wilton Fair; 1960 Tom W. Joyner, Dr. Harry E. Jenkins (Special).

1959 to 1950: 1959 M.J. Harvey; 1958 Joe Zeppa; 1957 Watson W. Wise; 1956 Memory of Mr. and Mrs. L.A. Grelling (cash gift to Tyler schools); Dr. Porter Bailes Sr.; 1955 J.S. Hudnall; 1954 H.J. McKenzie; 1953 Smith P. Reynolds; 1952 J.H. Calhoun; 1951 W.C. Windsor and W.E. Stewart; 1950 Johnny Wright and Mrs. Alex Woldert Sr. (Special).

1949 to 1940: 1949 Claude Holley and Hugh E. White; 1948 Galloway Calhoun; 1947 Foster Blaisdell; 1946 Wilton Daniel and Dr. Robert Hill (Special); 1945 Roy E. Smith; 1944 None; 1943 Troop F. Cavalry; 1942 Glenn Flinn; 1941 R.W. Fair; 1940 W.A. Pounds.

1939 to 1929: 1939 S.P. Burke; 1938 R.L. Tayloe; 1937 Tom Swann; 1936 Gus Pinkerton; 1935 H.M. Bell; 1934 T.B. Ramey; 1933 Mrs. Henry M. Eagle; 1932 E.P. McKenna; 1931 S.A. Lindsey; 1930 W.M. Roberts; 1929 Gus F. Taylor.



2011 to 2000: 2011 Neal Katz; 2010 Roy Guerra Martinez; 2009 Sharon Brown Wynne; 2008 Nathaniel Moran; 2007 Shannon Dacus; 2006 Ross Conner; 2005 Andy Fletcher Wells; 2004 Andy Bergfeld; 2003 Jay Ferguson; 2002 Jason Holmes; 2001 Lorei Threlkeld Knight; 2000 James Wynne III.

1999 to 1990: 1999 Mike Thomas; 1998 Nelson Clyde IV and Joey Seeber; 1997 Andy Navarro; 1996 Robert Peltier; 1995 Susan Davis; 1994 Loren Bennett; 1993 Kevin Eltife; 1992 Jan McCauley; 1991 Jerry Woolverton; 1990 Andy Guinn.

1989 to 1980: 1989 Barbara R. Bass and Tom M. Woldert; 1988 A.W. Whit Riter III; 1987 Lonny Uzzell; 1986 David Bibby; 1985 Chris Woldert; 1984 Henry Bell III; 1983 Lee Loftis Jr.; 1982 Phil Hurley; 1981 J. Cris Pinkerton; 1980 Greg Nordyke.

1979 to 1970: 1979 Franklin Shaffer; 1978 John Tindel; 1977 Art Johnson; 1976 Tommy Butler; 1975 James N. Daughtry; 1974 Stuart Chesley; 1973 Clark C. Corky Nelson; 1972 Joe Elliott Jr.; 1971 Robert W. Stone; 1970 Kenneth Barron.

1969 to 1960: 1969 Dr. Patrick Thomas; 1968 Richard Harvey; 1967 J. Robert Dobbs; 1966 James M. Scurlock; 1965 Tyler Junior Chamber; 1964 Frank Sewell Jr.; 1963 W. Abe Pounds Jr.; 1962 Dr. John Turner Jr.; 1961 Henry M. Bell Jr.; 1960 Byron Tunnell.

1959 to 1952: 1959 Horace Clarkston; 1958 A.W. "Dub" Riter Jr.; 1957 Smith Reynolds Jr.; 1956 Calvin Clyde Jr.; 1955 William Streckert; 1954 Harold Lawler; 1953 Sam Gibbons; 1952 Fred Bosworth.




Recent Stories You Might Have Missed