It might have been just a regular Friday afternoon: a family gathering for food and fellowship, planning to attend a basketball game and spend the weekend celebrating the birthday of their matriarch, who just happens to be approaching 100 years old.
But this is no ordinary family.
The matriarch is Thelma McNultry, whose daughter Lois Brown has served on the Madisonville City Council since 1990, under six different mayors. McNultry’s grandsons were standout athletes in the 1970s. Douglas led the 1975-76 Madisonville football team to the semifinals, playing running back alongside now-Police Chief Herbert Gilbert, who was the team’s quarterback.
McNultry’s great-great-granddaughters Tra’Dayja Smith and Tyana Brown are powerhouses on the Lady Mustang basketball team, and Brown is No. 1 in her junior class. Great-grandson Tyrone Brown was in the U.S. Navy and attended the University of Houston, and Terri Brown Davis was the community’s first black postmaster.
The family gathering, however, was more about spending time with one another than reliving the glory days. Brothers Eddie, Douglas, Ronald and Jerald were in town to see the Yates vs. Temple playoff game at Mustang Gym.
Yates won, 111-83. It was a victory for Jerald Davis, who attended school at Yates in Houston, even though the family has strong Madisonville roots.
“This occasion is about Thelma McNultry,” he said. “I want Madisonville to know about her.”
Brother Eddie added, “She brought a lot of people together.”
McNultry worked for Dairy Delight at Texas 21 and Interstate 45 and while her exact age was disputed by family members, there was one fact that was not questioned.
“She made the best biscuits,” Eddie said.
She had a lot of mouths to feed, as the family included several athletes.
Her grandson Jerald, who has starred in movies such as “I Come in Peace” and “King of the World,” said McNultry deserves the credit for the strong work ethic of her offspring.
“I am thankful and grateful that when we come here we are unified,” he said. “This community has been very gracious.”
McNultry’s father was Perry Carter Sr., who “plowed gardens with a mule for everyone in Madisonville,” said Lois Brown.
“He didn’t sell anything to the neighbors,” she said. “He gave it away.”
Many of the family members still live near each other on Amos Street – and they never discount the importance of family.
“I’m very excited to have all the family here,” Brown said. “We don’t really need telephones. We just holler at each other.”