Bank becomes first 100 Club of Southeast Texas Survivors Benefit sponsor

photo by Kevin King

Community Bank of Texas presented the 100 Club of Southeast Texas with its first Survivors Benefit sponsorship Tuesday, Aug. 5, at a check presentation ceremony at the Community Bank of Texas Delaware location in Beaumont.

The $50,000 contribution will fund one full life benefit to the spouse and dependent children of a law enforcement officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty, said Zack Shelton, 100 Club of Southeast Texas president.

“It’s in a fund for when a first responder is killed,” Shelton said when asked how the Survivors Benefit donation would be distributed. “Immediately within 48 hours, we go to that family and pay up to $50,000.”

Shelton said the first Survivors Benefit sponsorship, funded by Community Bank, is an important first step in encouraging other businesses to also donate to the cause.

“It means everything in the world to the 100 Club,” Shelton said. “We just started the Survivors Benefit donation. We’ve contacted several businesses in the area, and Community Bank is the first to step up to the plate. Hopefully, other businesses in the tri-county area will step up.”

Shelton said that although first responder casualties have been minimal in Southeast Texas over the past few decades compared to other areas, tragedy could strike at any given moment.

“Every day there is a police officer or fireman that dies. We’re lucky we’ve only had seven since 1988, but we could have a West, Texas tomorrow,” Shelton said referring to the 2013 West Fertilizer Co. explosion that killed 10 first responders battling the fire at the storage and distribution facility in West, Texas.

Community Bank of Texas Chairman and CEO Pat Parsons said the bank has always been supportive of the 100 Club of Southeast Texas, and when the company heard about the Survivors Benefit sponsorship opportunity, it was immediately interested.

“We’re glad to be in a leadership position as the first business in the community to step up,” Parsons said. “Supporting the families of the men and women who put their lives on the line should be near and dear to the heart of all the members of the community.”

Dozens of men and women representing local law enforcement and fire and rescue attended the check presentation including Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary and Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods. Newly appointed Criminal District Attorney of Jefferson County Cory Crenshaw was also in attendance, as were several representatives from the 100 Club including Warren Claybar, Joe Penland, Ed Keller, Fred E. Williams, Marie Richard, Beverly Hatcher and Clint Lewis.

According to the 100 Club of Southeast Texas website, the nonprofit was founded by a concerned group of area businessmen and private citizens after the death of Beaumont Police Officer Paul Hulsey, who was shot to death in the line of duty March 22, 1988.

Hulsey was the victim of a gunshot wound suffered at a Beaumont motel while investigating a stolen car. Serial killer Michael Lee Lockhart, 28, of Toledo, Ohio, was convicted of capital murder in the trial that followed. Murdered at the age of 29, Hulsey left behind a wife and two young daughters.

The Beaumont Police officer’s death provided the catalyst for a group of business leaders to take action, the nonprofit’s website states. At a news conference March 26, 1988, the club’s first board chairman, Wayne Reaud, announced the formation of The 100 Club of Jefferson County to operate a trust fund primarily as a means of assisting the spouse and dependent children of officers killed in the line of duty.

“It takes a great calling to give your life for your fellow man, and we feel that it is our calling to honor the fallen and be there for the families they leave behind,” Shelton said.

For more information on the 100 Club of Southeast Texas, visit 100clubsetx.com.

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