When I was asked to write something to be printed in the Beaver Book, I was truly honored, because my Mam-ma Samintha Beaver Craig has been one of the most inspiritational people of my life.
I, Tonya Rene’ Craig Halbrooks, was born to Larry and Shirley Craig July 10, 1961, in Austin, Texas. Shortly after my birth we moved to Houston where my dad completed his work for a degree in Pharmacy. We then moved to Tyler where we live today.
I have very fond memories of my childhood. I was born an only child, but I have always shared a closeness with my five cousins, Kim, Kelley, and Danny O’Neal, and Jody and Jill Meigs. Kim, Jill and I are about the same age, and we have been ex tremely close through the years. In fact, we are more like sis ters than cousins. I remember when Mam-ma and Pap-pa worked and lived at the Tyler Petroleum Club Marina, Kim and I would spend a lot of fun-filled weekends with them.
I started to school in 1967 and went through the fourth grade at Andy Woods elementary, in Tyler. At that time, some thing happened that could have been a tragedy for me; my parents divorced. Many children who go through a divorce of their mama and dad, come through it emotionally scarred, but I can honestly say that I do not have any of tnose scars. Of course, I was a bit confused, at first, as to why my mother and daddy were no longer married. My dad did everything in his power to assure me that their problems had nothing to do with me, and he did every thing to maintain our closeness. My dad is very special to me, and because of his efforts, I do not look on my life as a tragedy.
When I was in the sixth grade my dad remarried. I got, not only, a wonderful stepmother, but also four stepbrothers. My mother remarried also, and from that marriage I got one step brother and one stepsister. What all of this boils down to is, I was an only child for twelve years, then within two months I had five brothers and a sister. One year later my mother and step father lave me a little halfsister. It was not too easy for me to accept this crowd since I was used to being the one and only kid, but with the patience and love of everyone involved, we made it through those tough times.
When I graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in May 1979, I moved into the house with Dad and Barbara. Both my mother and Barbara had been members of the Tyler Junior College Apache Belles. It had been a dream of mine to become a member of this well known drill team, and so, in the summer of 1979, I began tryouts for the team. I think one of the happiest days of my life was when I heard my name called out as a member of the 1979-1980 internationally famous Apache Belles. During my first year we performed at half time for numerous Cowboy games at Texas Stadium in Dallas. But the highlight of that year was when we did a performance in the garden of the White House for President and Mrs. Jimmie Carter. During my second year at Tyler Junior College, I met, and fell in love with, Gary Norman Halbrooks. In March of that same year we became engaged. As you can tell, my two years at Tyler Junior were both filled with happiness. I graduated there in May of 1981.
Still undecided as to what I wanted to elect as my major, I had thought about entering the field of speech therapy, but I did not want to leave Tyler to further my education. The nearest sub ject available to it at the University of Texas at Tyler, was Special Education. During the summer of 1981 I took two Special Education courses, and I loved it. I graduated from the Univer sity of Texas, Tyler, with a degree in Special Education in Dec ember of 1982, and am now teaching Learning Disabled students in the Tyler School District. The summer following my first year of teaching, Gary and I were married at the First Baptist Church in Tyler, June 2, 1984-. That about sums up my 25 years of life.
As it is with all families, ours has had times of sorrow. The sudden death of Pap-pa (Jess Craig), was very hard on all the family. He was truly a wonderful man. The serious surgery that Mam-ma had was also a traumatic time for us. During that same year, my dad had a hunting accident in y/hich his foot was shot. Due to the closeness that our family does share, those tough times have seemed easier. It is comforting to Know that you live in a family who shares their confidence of a brighter tomorrow. Mam-ma’s strong faith in God has influenced all of her family, and has led her through many troublesome times.
I would like to end this just as I began: “My Mam-ma, Samintha Beaver Craig, has been one of the most inspirational people in my life.”