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George Hooks and Perchie Kennedy Hooks had four children - George Morris, Millicent, Steven and their youngest, Theron, born March 24, 1932. Both his parents were from proud, Oklahoma landowning people – something that was not common for black families in that era.
He was raised on his family’s farm in Tatums, Oklahoma, which is one of 13 all-black founded towns of Oklahoma that still survive today. He attended the Tatums School K-12.
After graduation, he went to Langston University as his siblings, cousins, mother, aunts, uncles and even his grandmother in the 1910s, had done before him. While there he met Lilliantyne “Tyna” Williams, whom he would later marry.
At Langston, he joined the Alpha Pi chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He remained an active and loyal member of the frat for the rest of his life. His fraternity membership was a mainstay for him. He met one of his oldest friends because he was walking across campus wearing his Kappa sweater and his friend, a stranger there, but a Kappa, hailed him.
After graduating from Langston, he moved to Wichita, Kansas where one of the major employers, The Boeing Company, was willing to hire educated men of color. He reconnected with Tyna Williams, and they married in April 1957.
Settling in Wichita, four houses down the street from his brother Steve, Theron and Tyna had two children, Laneyse, born 1958 and Quinton born 1960. In 1968 Boeing transferred Theron and his family to the Seattle area where Theron worked at the Everett plant as Boeing was delivering a new kind of aircraft – the 747.
On arrival in Seattle, Theron and his family joined First AME Church where Theron was very, very active. He sang in the choir, worked on the finance committee, was the house photographer for decades, provided people with rides, was active on the FAME Housing Association Board and was always ready to rabble rouse or make a joke.
In 1971, as Boeing went into a tailspin – “Will the last person leaving Seattle please turn out the lights” – Theron was laid off with thousands of others and subsequently held jobs with the City of Seattle, the Model Cities program and then with the State of Washington’s Department of Transportation. He remained at DOT holding various positions until he retired in 1987.
Theron and Tyna divorced in the early 1970s. Until his death, Theron remained an active, present, and caring father. He coached soccer and was present for school activities, camping trips, church field trips and anything else he could participate in for and with his children.
Most of his work with the Department of Transportation was based in Olympia, 60 miles south of Seattle. For the majority of the time he worked there, Theron drove a VanPool van back and forth daily, forming fast friendships with the many people who rode with him over the years.
Theron loved watching football. When the Seattle Seahawks were established, Theron was one of the initial season ticket holders and he remained a season ticket holder for almost twenty years.
In retirement, Theron remained active. He took water aerobics at the 23rd Street Y. He was at the Central Area Senior Center a lot – he line-danced with the Central Area Senior Center’s “Silver Steppers” including performing at halftime at Sonic basketball games. For many years he drove the chef to do his weekly grocery shopping. Until the pandemic, he ate lunch at the Senior Center several times a week. He volunteered at the Kappa’s fundraising food stall at the Seattle Center Area during sporting events.
He loved fiddling around on his computer and became pretty proficient in his 70s and 80s – although he never could resist clicking on those interesting, virus laden messages! Until recently, everyone in the extended family would get an email commemorating the births and deaths of his siblings and mother. He was in correspondence with close family and sometimes never-met family from all over. He truly was a “people person” who loved a party and tried not to miss a family reunion.
The pandemic was difficult for Theron. Memory problems had already begun to take their toll, and the isolation of Covid made those issues worse. In late 2021, he contracted Covid, which made him weaker and dramatically increased the rate of his memory loss. But he remained “himself” funny, engaging, irreverent, full of stories, and always, always ready to go for a ride.
It is impossible to truly sum up Theron’s life – the word “active” keeps popping up over and over because even when he was not taking part in some organized activity, he was seldom just sitting around.
A week or so before he died, he had been very ill, but for a bit he recovered. Laneyse had left the house while he was still sleeping and when she came back to check on him, he was so much better and engaged again, that she exclaimed, “It’s so good to see you!”
Theron replied, as he so often did – “It’s good to be seen.”
He peacefully left this realm on April 1, with his son Quinton at his side. We know he is in a better place, but we really miss him.
Theron is survived by his son Quinton Hooks, his daughter, Laneyse Hooks and her husband Richard Marchi and many cousins. He also leaves behind nephews and nieces – Ron (Morris); Searcy, Doug and Schonay (Millicent – until this past Monday, that list would have included Millicent’s daughter Loretta, who we lost to a stroke earlier this week); Gayle, Ella Fae, Robert, Renee and Dwayne (Steve) and a wonderful, enormous host of extended family. He is also survived by his Seattle family of choice where not all relatives are biological, but though connections of the heart.
Memorials in Theron’s name can be sent to FAME Housing Association. They provide housing to low-income individuals and senior citizens. Theron has been on the Board of Directors almost since its inception – 140 Lakeside Avenue, Suite 220, Seattle, WA 98122.
Memorials can also be sent to the Langston University foundation that supports the work of Theron’s alma mater. They can be reached at www.lufoundation.givingfuel.com.