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January 2, 2013     Hays Free Press
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HaysFreePress.com BY DESIGN New 1-35 developments must conform to rules. - Page 1D January 2, 2013 * Page 1C Soft-hearted 'Ma' pardons record number of prisoners LIS WEEK IN HISTORY "'Mg Frees 26 More Prison- ers" said the banner headline of the Lubbock Avalanche-]ournal on Jan. 5, 1927. With 12 days left in her term, Texas' first woman governor had plenty of time to finish cleaning out the state penal system. In her 1924 bid to become the second Ferguson to rule the Lone Star roost, Miriam promised to pick up where her impeached husband left off seven years earlier. Though Jim cut 2,253 prisoners loose during his 32 stormy months, "Ma" would go d.own as the most soft- hearted governor in American history. To tip the scales of justice in favor of the underdog, Miriam exercised her pardon power and every other available act of executive clemency. In addition to the 1,161 felons granted full pardons, another 2,000 were given extended furloughs, res- torations of citizenship and life sentences in lieu of dates with the electric chair. Since the Fergusons were long-time opponents of prohibi- tion, petty bootleggers benefited most from Ma's mercy. To lock up a farmer for selling a bottle of booze, when city slickers kept well-stocked liquor cabinets, was a travesty in her eyes. Inmates also qualified for leni- ency if they were in bad health, convicted on weak circumstan- tiai evidence or near the end of their sentences. Furloughs were routinely approved for deathbed visits to dying relatives, as were paTdons to the breadwinners of indigent households. Predictably the Fergusons were flooded by tear -jerking appeals. As one of the governor's daughters recalled, "Every mem- ber of the family was besieged from morning until night by letters/telephone calls and visi- tors pleading for some loved one who had disobeyed the laws of society and had been impris- oned, but who deserved another chance." Unlike her husband, Ma never came face-to-face with a pardon-seeking prisoner. One day in his office, Jim was con- fronted by an escaped convict, who broke out of prison to pres- ent his petition in person. Ferguson listened patiently to the visitor's tale of woe and then promised to honor his request, if he went straight back to Hunts- ville. The fugitive retraced his steps, and Jim kept his word. Executions were especially hard on Miriam, who made the ordeal more difficult by ordering the warden to contact her before pulling the switch. Whenever she failed to find grounds for a postponement, she hung up the phone and burst into tears. The governor endured this private agony on 15 occasions between April 1925 and July 1926. However, in the initial six months of her first term in 1924 and her second in 1933, only .one prisoner was put to death. The fact that Texas averaged an execution every 32 days between 1924 and 1940 strongly suggests she dragged her heels. While Ma's penal policy was popular with her predominantly rural supporters, critics charged that many liberated inmates were undeserving dangerous criminals. To prove their point, they cited an article in a national magazine which accused her of setting free 203 murderers, 44 rapists and a child molester. Whenever her detractors were running low on ammuni- tion, the governor unwittingly replenished their supply by signing a pardon before the re- cipient reached prison. And the law-and-order lobby never tired of talking about the business- man that won his freedom by convincing Ma he did not mean to kill his partner. The knife "slipped." Farmer Jim came to his wife's See TEXAS HISTORY, pg. 3C BY KIM HILSENBECK kim@haysfreepress.com When Adell Hurst's late husband, Coyett, went into hospice, she had no idea what it really was or why it was recommended by his pulmonary physician. "I knew absolutely noth- ing," Hurst said in a recent interview at her Kyle home. "But I can tell you I learned real quick." That was in September 2008. Hurst, 79, and her daugh- ter, Abby Hurst, one of Hurst's six children, spoke about how hospice came into her home for her husband's last three days of life. "I had no idea what they would do when they came in, but suddenly, the word was out, myhusband was on hos- pice - my home was filled with love. Just, love," Hurst said. She relayed how the Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC) Hospice of San Mar- cos, brought in a chaplain, a social worker, a nurse, a nursing assistant, a massage therapist and a bereavement counselor- who was particu- larly helpful for Hurst's then 14-year-old grandson, who was devastated about losing his grandfather. "They came in - they took care of everything we needed," Hurst said. Today, Hurst herself is in hospice. "I have Stage 4 breast can- cer," she said. Hurst went through radia- tion treatments four years ago for the same cancer and was told she was cancer flee. But she wasn't free for long. This time, when her oncolo- gist explained the chemother- apy treatment's side effects and that it might not work at this advanced stage, she asked him a very pointed question. "OK, I'm your mother. What would you have me do?" Hurst said he recommend- ed hospice and no further aggressive treatment. After Coyett's hospice experience, Hurst said she knew she wanted CTMC's hospice this time around - and not just because her daughter works there now. Abby Hurst decided she .... Looking back on her 79 years, Adell Hurst, a hospice patient with Stage 4 breast cancer, is proud of her life and at peace with dying. She fondly recalled meet- ing her late husband, Coyett, who was in the Air Force and stationed in the Texas Panhandle. Only two months into nursing school, Hurst left to marry Coyett and never looked back. That was more than 60 years ago. Over his 20-year military career, Hurst was by his side raising a family, including two sets of twins, and moving from base to base. "We lived in Donaldson in South Carolina, Biloxi, Missis- sippi, and Cape Cod, Massa- chusetts," Hurst said. 'md he went to Southeast Asia and was in the Korean andVietnam wars," she said. "He was then stationed in Greenland." For a time, Hurst said, they lived as a family on Goose Bay, Labrador, off Canada's eastern coast. Hurst said her husband retired from the Air Force to become a computer systems analyst. Meanwhile, she had always been active in volunteer- ism - a lesson instilled in her by her father, a farmer ifi the See ADELL HURST, pg. 3C PHOTO BY KIM HILSENBECK Hospice patient Adell Hurst, 79, of Kyle was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in November. She decided not to seek aggressive treatment so her family would remember her as happy and peaceful, not sick. Hurst said hospice care is helping her feel better by managing pain and other symptoms so she can do the things she needs to do. "1 just am not afraid. I feel really fortunate to feel that way. Dying is a part of living -it all goes together." -Adell Hurst wanted to work for CTMC Hos- pice Care after her father died. "I said, I'm going to work there if it's the last thing I do," she said, "and I was (working there) four months later." She is a community out- reach specialist who helps bring the message of hospice to the masses. Both Hurst women said many people don't know what hospice is or how it can help families and patients alike. Abby said people think hospice is something that is just there in the last few hours of someone's life. "They think it's a place to die," Hurst said. Why the misperceptions? Abby thinks in part, some physicians don't refer patients early enough to hospice care. "They may think it's like giving up on their patiems," she said. "But my father would have qualified for hospice months if not years earlier." Abby said CTMC Hospice Care, like many other orga- nizations, helps improve a patient's quality of life by con- trolling symptoms, managing pain and providing all the support, such as they did right before her father passed away. "Hospice helps people make the best of what time they have left," Abby said. Across the room from where Adell is sitting stands an easel with an enlarged photo of her and her husband days before his passing. They are holding each other and smiling with looks of peace and comfort on their faces. It was taken by a profes- sional Buda-based pho- tographer that donates his time and supplies to CTMC's "Faces of Hospice" program. Patients receive high-quality photographs of themselves with ldived ones at no cost. "We also hang the photos in businesses and buildings around the county where more people can see them and start a conversation about hospice and what it is, what it can do and how it can help," Abby said. She said any business can request to hang the photos. Adell Hurst said she now feels the same peace about fac- ing her own mortality, thanks in large part to CTMC Hospice. When asked what made her decide not to go for any other treatment, Hurst explained how her doctor de- scribed the chemo treatment. "He said, 'You will lose your hair, you will have sores in your mouth, you will be sick,' and I didn't want my family to see and remember me that way." Hurst said in early Novem- ber, she decided, "why not?" "Why hang around and be sick?" Hurst asked. "I have six children and several grandchildren and great- grandchildren and they all love me dearly. But I did not want them to lose their grandmother when she was ve, very sick. I wouldn't want that at all." She continued, "I wanted to go as peacefully as pos- sible. My son knelt beside my bed and said, 7kre you scared?' And I said, no. I'm scared of being sick. I'm scared of pain, but I'm not scared of dying. And I think that really helped him." Hurst said she isn't just putting on a brave face for her family. "I just am not afraid," she said with steely determina- tion. "I feel really fortunate to feel that way. Dying is a part of living- it all goes together." COURTESY PHOTO PHOTO BY KIM HILSENBECK PHOTO BY ANDY SEVIIJ.A Above left, is a portrait - given to her by CTMC Hospice Care as one of its many services- of Adell Hurst and her late husband Coyett and to the right is a picture of them early in their relationship. Below, Hurst accepts the honor bestowed upon her by the Kyle City Council; the proclamation of Adell Hurst Day on Dec. 18, 2012. Ten garden activities for January IT'S ABOUT HYME i;00ii 1. General care of gar- den. Your existing landscape and trees need some atten- tion. If you haven't done it already, I know your trees would appreciate a good, deep watering, especially since we've had so little rain since way back in September. Water your landscape shrubs and groundcovers too. 2. Turn off sprinklers. Auto - matic lawn sprinklers should be set at a minimum or simply turn them off. (Turf grass is dormant.) 3. Plant a tree. There is still time. Maybe you purchased a living tree for the holidays. Find that perfect spot, plant it and water it in. 4. Perennial pruning. The holiday cold spell should have frozen back all perennials. Cut your native and adaptive pe- rennials back to a few inches above the ground.and mulch. Mixing some organic compost with the mulch will assure some nutrition to build beau- See IT'S ABOUT THYME, pg. 4C A book about humility and redemption CHECK IT OUT " emoirs are a fascinat- ing genre. Wouldn't .we all love the op- portunity to write the story of our lives, leaving out the times when we were petty and selfish and impossible to be around? It seems preferable to write one's life story with one- self as the hero, the shining example of courage and kind- ness, admired by others but envied and misunderstood by our older, less attractive siblings. An honest evaluation of a life is found in Neil White's book "In the Sanctuary of Out- casts." Neil was a rich young ruler, at the top of his game in the publishing world, but caught up in a web of finan- cial deceit to keep his public image alive. Active in his church and in philanthropic causes in Southern society, he began kiting checks to cover his family's extravagant stan- dard of living. White leaves out no details. Caught by the authorities in 1993, he was convicted of bank fraud and sentenced to 18 months in a federal penitentiary. Prison beds were hard to come by for non- violent criminals, so White was sentenced with others to the National Leprosarium at Carville, La. Since 1894, victims of leprosy who lived within the continental United States were confined to the aban- doned sugar plantation at the bend of the Mississippi River. Leprosy was considered a shameful disease, even a pun- ishment for immorality. In this beautiful isolated colony, Neil White met the last members of a secret outcast society. This diverse group of patients under manda- tory quarantine, caring nuns, efficient guards and criminal offenders taughtWhite the gentle lessons of humility and redemption. This is a terrific book to re- mind you what matters most in life. And it demonstrates what an honest reflection on one's life can teach us all.