Marshall "Potts" Formby, Jr. and Sharleen Wells Formby Rhoads
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In Remembrance of

Sharlene and Potts Formby
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United States Army Captain World War II Veteran


Marshall Formby thinks Dickens County folk are about the best folk in the world--and he has written a book, "These Are My People", to prove it.

Marshall´s book came out in 1962. It is a historical novel and Marshall gathered the history part while he was county Judge in the late thirties.

Marshall was born in Bethel community in Hopkins County, in the same house his father was born in. He says the only reason he wasn´t born in a log cabin is that his mother was occupying the northeast room of the farmhouse, instead of the log cabin part. Marshall´s grandfather was born in Georgia, moved to Arkansas where he served in the Civil War, and moved to Hopkins County in 1868.

When a boy, Marshall moved with his family to McAdoo, on top of the Plains. His mother still resides at McAdoo, his father having passed away in 1957. He started to school at McAdoo, when Mcadoo had a three-teacher school. When he got ready for his senior year, he had to complete his work in Spur. He lived at the Experiment Farm while going to School.

In 1932 he finished Texas Tech at the age of 21, "right in the middle of the depression." After farming and running a drug store at McAdoo, and working on newspapers over the country, he ran for County Judge in 1936 and at the age of 25 became one of the youngest county judges in the state. Four years later, when 29, he was elected to the State Senate from the old 30th district embracing Lubbock, Plainview and Big spring -- 24 counties in all.

Then he later spent four years in World War Two, spending 20 months with the army engineers in Europe. After the war, he earned his Master of Journalism degree at the University of Texas. There he met and married Sharleen Wells, September 1946, a graduate student from Alabama. They have two children, Frances and David. Later he studied law at Baylor University and obtained his law license.

Marshall Formby was 25 years old when he took office as County Judge of Dickens County Jan. 1, 1937. During the four years he was in office, he helped get the county on a cash basis for the first time in 15 years and give its citizens their lowest tax rate in 22 years.

Marshal was a Baptist, Rotarian, Chairman Advisory Council of University of Texas Journalism School; on Texas Tech Foundation Board; and a former president of Texas Tech Ex-Students.

Marshall was appointed to the Highway Commission in 1953. In 1957 was named Chairman. He retired from the commission on March 16, 159, not seeking re-appointment. While a member of the Highway Commission, he spent much time traveling over the roads of the state. He visited 251 of the 254 counties, and was in most of the counties many times. He spent considerable time traveling with District Highway Engineers getting first hand information about the state´s road needs. He was a staunch believer in wide highways and he advocated four-lane divided roads to be constructed when possible. He used to walk three miles to a country school when he didn´t ride his horse. He knew about muddy country roads and rural schools, and this is why he wanted good highways and worked for them. While he was chairman, the huge inter-state highway program in the state got under way and the state inaugurated its first right-of-way buying program.

When he retired, he was widely congratulated by newspapers over the state for having had a state-wide viewpoint of the State´s road problems.

Marshall´s career consisted of operating the Aspermont Star, Plainview Tribune and interest in radio stations at Floydada, Hereford, Levelland and Andrews. His partner in three of the stations was his nephew, Clint Formby, who was born at McAdoo.

He practiced law in Plainview where he lived with his wife, Sharleen, and his daughter Frances, and son, David. His law practice, legal work for four radio stations, and operating a 960 acre stock farm kept him busy.

Source: History of Dickens County; Ranches and Rolling Plains, Fred Arrington, ©1971
An attorney, politician, newspaper publisher, and radio executive, Formby was born in 1911 in Como, Hopkins County, Texas. He received a B.A. from Texas Technological College (1932); an M.A. from the University of Texas (1937); and a J.D. from Baylor University (1951). He served as county judge of Dickens County, Texas (1937-1940); Texas State Senator, Lubbock District (1941-1945); Texas Highway Commission (1953-1959); Texas Turnpike Authority; and on the Board of Regents of Texas Tech University (1967-1971). Formby was also a newspaper publisher and owned or co-owned numerous radio stations in Texas including KPAN in Hereford; KFLD in Floydada; KTVE in Tulia; KSML in Seminole; KACT in Andrews and KLVT in Levelland. He died in 1984 in Plainview, Texas.

Among his many achievements, Formby served as chairman of the board of Citizens National Bank in Crosbyton, was district governor of Rotary International District 573, served as the president of the Texas Tech Ex-Students Association, and was a deacon in the First Baptist Church of Plainview. A longtime member of the church, Formby also served as a lifetime member of the Advisory Council of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and as a member of the board of Public Relations for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. A lifelong member of the Plainview YMCA, Formby also served on the Central Plains Regional Hospital Board, and was one of six original board members of the Panhandle Heritage Foundation. Formby maintained extensive farming interests south of Plainview in addition to his radio and newspaper interests, cable television and oil ventures.

Marshall Formby received numerous awards and honors during his lifetime. He was named a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International's highest honor for service. In 1974, Formby was named Plainview's Man of the Year, and in 1977, he was named District Alumnus of Texas Tech University. He was also honored by the Texas Association of Hospital Governing Boards as Hospital Trustee of the Year. In 1981, Formby was honored as Texas Tech University Alumni of the Year in Mass Communications. Formby was a Mason, a Shriner, and a member of Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. He worked with the Plainview Chamber of Commerce, was a member of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce, was a member of the State Bar of Texas, and was president of the Plainview Bar Association.

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Dickens County History Book Photos p. 567-591


Funeral services for Marshall Formby, 73, were held Saturday morning at 10:30 in the First Baptist Church, Plainview. Dr. Carlos McLeod, former pastor and a director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and Dr. Fred Meeks, pastor, officiated.

Formby died December 27 at his home in Plainview following a lengthy illness. He was a former Dickens County Judge and was raised at McAdoo. He had served as a state senator, and a regent at Texas Tech for six years and served on the Texas Highway Commission.

He received a bachelor´s degree in government in 1932 at Texas Tech, where he was the editor of the school newspaper. He received a master´s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from Baylor University. He was honored as a distinguished alumnus by Tech in 1981 and was a long-time practicing attorney in Plainview.

A former Dickens County judge, his term as a state senator was interrupted by World War II, in which he served with the Army engineers in the European Theater.

He was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor in 1962.

Formby was co-owner of radio stations in Hereford, Levelland, Temple and Tyler and had extensive farming interests in West Texas. He also was associated with oil production and the cable television industry.

He was a director for banks in Crosbyton and Petersburg and a member of the Central Plains Hospital Authority. He was a lifetime member of the Plainview YMCA board of directors and a past district governor of Rotary International, District 573. He was a Paul Harris Fellow.

Formby was a member of the board of the Public Relations Department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and a life member of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary Advisory Council in Fort Worth. He was a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Plainview, where he taught a Sunday School class for many years.

Burial was at 3 p.m. in the McAdoo Cemetery under the direction of Lemmons Funeral Home, Plainview.

Survivors include his wife, Sharleen; a son, David of Plainview; a daughter, Mrs. Kenneth (Frances) Scales, Lubbock; and a granddaughter.

Pallbearers were Norman Wright, Danny Laws, Judge Harold LaFont, Lt. Marshall Formby, Gordon Flack ad Gene Stanley.

The family suggests memorials to the Texas Tech University Medical Foundation´s Marshall Formby Endowment for Vision Research.

Gov. Mark White praised former state senator and Texas Tech University regent, Marshall Formby, Thursday as a man who "dedicated years of his life to public service" and said the Plainview attorney "will be sorely missed" by all Texans.

©The Texas Spur, January 3, 1985

Sharleen Wells Formby RhoadsSharleen Wells Formby Rhoads, 92, of Plainview left this life to join her Father and Savior in heaven on Dec. 8, 2010, in Lubbock. Funeral services are going to be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010, in First Baptist Church Sanctuary of Plainview. Interment will be at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010, at McAdoo Cemetery. Services are under the direction of Lemons Funeral Home. A visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010, at Lemons Funeral Home.

Sharleen had a most glorious and interesting life. Born Sept. 30, 1918, in Ohio, she moved as a young girl to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Hendersonville, N.C. Graduating as valedictorian of her high school class from Edneyville, N.C., she went to college and graduated again as valedictorian from Montivello College in Montivello, Ala., with a degree in English. From college in Alabama, Sharleen went to work at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., as a secretary to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Upon leaving Washington, D.C., she enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin to work towards her master's of education. Then it got interesting.

In February of 1946, while working at the on-campus playhouse, she met, as she was later told, "the most eligible bachelor in the state of Texas," Marshall C. Formby of McAdoo, Texas. Marshall had already been elected as County Judge for Dickens County, the youngest man ever elected as a County Judge, served as a State Senator from his home district, and also served in the Army Corps of Engineers in England and France. After dating for just 6 weeks, he informed her they were getting married and proceeded to do just that on Sept. 8, 1946, in Seale, Ala.

Marshall and Sharleen's early years proved to be very busy times. Marshall received his master's degree in journalism. The Formbys then returned to the high plains of Texas and put a series of radio stations on the air, the first being KPAN in Hereford. It was followed by stations in Tulia, Kermit, Colorado City, Snyder, Temple and Tyler. During all this time, Marshall and Sharleen decided to make Plainview home and he joined the law firm of Tudor, Tunnell, Lafont and Formby. 1105 S. Broadway became home, and all were welcome. Two of greatest events took place shortly thereafter: the birth and adoption of Frances Ann Formby on Nov. 7, 1955, and David Wells Formby on Dec. 10 in 1957.

While living in Plainview, Sharleen became a member of the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution), and P.E.O. Marshall always said he didn't know exactly what it stood for, but since the group always met for lunch he felt assured it meant Please Eat Out. She was also involved with P.T.A. at Hillcrest Elementary School and was Homeroom Mother, probably more than she wanted to be. Other activities included the Hale County Library Association. First Baptist Church was a very important part of her life as well, and the life she and Marshall instilled in Frances and David.

In later years, she became involved in Wayland Baptist University, sitting on the Board of Trustees, Texas Tech University College of Mass Communications and the College of Human Sciences. One of the things she and Marshall established was the Marshall and Sharleen Formby Foundation in the Southwest Collection of Texas Tech Library System. It is here that all of their papers, recordings, books, history and archived information are located.

Sharleen and Marshall's life was an adventure, and where you saw one the other was usually not far behind. The greatest undertaking was Marshalls bid as a candidate for Texas governor in the early 60s. The campaign ended, however, with a defeat to John Connolly and a car accident that nearly took the lives of Sharleen, Frances and David. The two of them travelled extensively within the continental United States and to Hawaii. In the mid 60s, the entire family enjoyed a "Round the World" trip, visiting the Azores Islands, England, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, South Africa and Australia. They were also extremely privileged to be aboard the first flight into mainland China when relations were normalized in 1970 under President Nixon. Rotary International was also a big part of their lives, as Marshall served as Rotary Governor not once but Sharleen Rhoads, cont. twice, and Sharleen always accompanied him on these visits.

The 1980s brought a different pace. Due to Marshall's failing eyesight but refusal to slow down, Sharleen became his eyes, driving him where ever he needed to be. You can't separate Sharleen from Marshall, because they were a team. She was always at his side as his helper, wife and sounding board. Marshall preceded her in death in Dec. 27, 1984.

In March of 1994, she married Harvey Rhoads and moved to Midland. In this, she began to verse herself in the oil industry and as usual became very active in that industry, learning all she could. One thing about Sharleen is that whatever her spouse was involved in, she made that her world. Harvey also preceded her in death in November 2004. Upon his death, she returned to her home, Plainview, Texas.

To summarize her life, she was a giver: a giver of time, a giver of love. She was always by Marshall's side and Harvey in later life. She was proud of her heritage as a "Southern Belle" and didn't expect less of others. She was an avid reader of books, newspapers and magazines, especially those dealing with politics, World War II and history. Sharleen never used a computer, preferring to deal the old-fashioned way of a hand written note or letter.

In her later years, she became much more of a homebody, enjoying her life with her cat and her wonderful caretaker Janie Torres by her side. Janie was our angel who allowed her to stay in her home, comfortable and happy.

Those left to treasure their memories with her are her daughter, Frances Formby Seales and husband Kenneth of Lubbock; son, David Wells Formby of Plainview; two granddaughters, Lanie Seales Pugh (Marc) of Sanford, N.C., and Mandy Lee Formby of Plainview; four special grandchildren, Kent Seales of Littlefield, Sharla Seales Hamblin (Bill) of Littlefield, Greg Seales (Kelly) of Rockwall, Texas, and Kayla Seales Roach (Mark) of Lubbock; two great-granddaughters, Hayley Elizabeth Pugh and Kinsley Abigail Pugh of Sanford, N.C; also, her seven special great-grandchildren, Shea and Bradley Hamblin, both of Lubbock, Chase Bray Seales of Lubbock, Hunter and McKenzie Seales of Rockwall, Texas, and Krisha Roach and Kaden Roach, both of Lubbock. Also surviving are her sister, Juanita Wells Hearn of Brevard, N.C., and numerous nieces and nephews.

A special thanks goes to Janie Torres who, without her, Sharleen would not have been able to remain as an independent person in her own home. Janie became a member of the Formby Family and we all knew she was in good hands. Janie also made Sharleen a member of her family, taking her to her family gatherings and exposing her to an alternate culture, which Sharleen grew to love and enjoy.

Memorials may be made to the Marshall and Sharleen Formby Scholarship Fund, c/o Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

Published Lubbock Avalanche Journal, Friday, December 10, 2010

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