Among the individuals to enter the Hall of Honor is Raymond L. Telles, Jr., Belle Christie Critchett, Lillian W. Crouch, Charles N. Bassett, Patricia Worthington, and Richard Worthington.
Charles N. Bassett – 2022 Honoree: El Paso Businessman and Banker
Charles Nebeker Bassett (1880-1944) was an El Paso businessman and banker who helped develop downtown El Paso as president of State National Bank. Bassett was born in Clinton, Indiana on October 8, 1880 to Oscar T. and Myrtle N. Bassett and moved to El Paso in 1900.
As President of State National Bank from 1922 to 1944, Bassett developed some of El Paso’s leading businesses and industries. He also developed the city budget system in 1921 during the administration of Mayor Charles Davis. Bassett had extensive properties in El Paso and the Southwest. He built the O.T. Bassett Tower, located at Stanton and Texas streets, and was owner the chain of Gateway Hotels in the region, including the Hotel Gateway in El Paso.
Bassett held various civic and financial offices including presidency of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, the El Paso Gateway Club, and General Chairman of the Community Chest. He also served as a director of the El Paso branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. Bassett Place was named after him when it was built in 1962 as the city’s first shopping mall.
Belle Christie Critchett – 2023 Honoree: El Paso Suffragist and Civic Leader
Belle Christie Ferguson Critchett (1867-1956) was one of El Paso’s most important suffrage leaders. Born in Scotland, her family immigrated to Clinton, Iowa in 1870 and then to Colorado. Belle taught school for two years in Pueblo, Colorado and six years in Denver. In 1902, after her marriage to Otis Adams Critchett, the couple moved to El Paso.
Critchett served as the president of the El Paso Equal Franchise League from 1917 to 1920 and on the state board of the Texas Equal Suffrage Association. She helped build the El Paso league into one of the largest grassroots organizations in El Paso history with more than 300 members. Critchett was one of the first women in El Paso to seek political office when she ran for a position on the school board in 1918. After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Critchett helped found the El Paso League of Women Voters and served as its president for five terms.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Critchett continued her civic activity and was involved in various social issues including prison reform, the world peace movement, education, city beautification, women’s health, prohibition, anti-racism, government corruption and good citizenship. She held various leadership positions including president of the El Paso Home for Girls, publicity chairman of the local chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, member of the El Paso Joint Legislative Council, and corresponding secretary of the First Presbyterian Women’s Auxiliary.
Lillian Williams Crouch – 2023 Honoree: El Paso Educator and Civic Leader
Lillian Williams Crouch, a retired teacher and El Paso Independent School District administrator, is well known throughout the city for her timeless work to advance the region’s quality of life. Born in Dallas, Lillian is a fifth generation Texan. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Huston Tillotson University at the age of 19, a master’s degree in education supervision from the University of Texas at El Paso and completed post graduate studies at Texas Tech University.
Lillian is a trailblazer whose career was filled with many firsts. Her most notable achievements included being named EPISD’s first African American junior high principal and the first to reach the director level, becoming executive director of human resources in 1997. Lillian believes the true reward of being an educator is the impact your students make in society because of the knowledge, skills, and experience you shared with them through education.
After 37 years in public education, Lillian retired to take on leadership positions in the multiple community organizations she has been serving for decades as a member. She has served as president of the El Paso County Historical Society, Woman’s Club of El Paso, Woman’s Auxiliary of UTEP, Walter H. Hightower Foundation, and El Paso Del Norte Chapter Gold Star Wives of America. Lillian has received numerous awards including 2012 Gold Nugget award recipient from The University of Texas at El Paso College of Education. In 2003, the El Paso Times named her a Community Hero and she was named a Distinguished Alumni by UTEP in 2022.
Ambassador Raymond L. Telles Jr., – 2023 Honoree: El Paso Public Servant and Political Leader
Raymond Lorenzo Telles Jr. (1915-2013) was the first Mexican American to be elected as mayor of a major American city when he became mayor of El Paso in 1957 and the first Mexican American to be appointed as a U.S. ambassador. His political career and public service helped open the doors to greater Hispanic participation and representation in Texas politics.
Telles was born in the Segundo Barrio of El Paso and graduated from Cathedral High School and Texas Western College (UTEP). During World War II, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army and was Chief of the Lend-Lease Program to Latin America. At the end of the war, he served as the liaison officer between the Mexico and United States air forces. He later served in the Korean War, retiring with the rank of colonel.
In 1948, Telles was elected El Paso County Clerk and served four terms. In 1957, Raymond Telles was elected mayor of El Paso and ran unopposed in 1959. He served under five presidents from 1961 to 1980 in various federal government posts including U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, director of the U.S.–Mexico Border Commission, member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and head of the Inter-American Development Bank in El Salvador.
Patricia Worthington – 2023 Honoree: El Paso Historian and Curator
Patricia Haesly Worthington is a historian of El Paso history who served for more than 10 years as the curator for the El Paso County Historical Society and the editor of Password, the Society’s quarterly journal of history.
Patricia attended Tyler Junior College, the University of Texas and UTEP, receiving a bachelor’s degree in history. She worked as an Administrative Assistant at UTEP from 1982 to 1995, before serving as the curator of the archives at the El Paso County Historical Society from 1998 to 2010.
Patricia Worthington has published several historical articles and the book, El Paso and the Mexican Revolution (2010).
Richard Worthington – 2023 Honoree: El Paso Biologist and Community Historian
Richard Worthington is an El Paso biologist, educator, and community historian. He received his Ph.D. in Zoology and Ecology from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1968.
Richard is Associate Professor Emeritus in Biology at The University of Texas at El Paso and served as the Curator of the UTEP Herbarium. He is the co-author of Flowering Plants of Trans-Pecos Texas and Adjacent Areas. Richard’s academic interests have been focused on plant diversity in the southwestern United States and the documentation of the flora across southern New Mexico and western Texas. His plant collecting activities, mostly in the southwest U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, have resulted in 39,000 collection numbers.
Richard Worthington is author or co-author of more than 30 peer-reviewed articles in professional journals. Knowledge about the Trans-Pecos flora and biota has been significantly augmented through numerous issues of his Floristic Inventories of the Southwest Program.