Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Anita Thigpen Perry Day at West Texas A&M University

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Monday, November 26, 2001  •  Speech

Thank you Senator Bivins.  We are glad to be back home in West Texas, if only for a few hours.

Mayor Rice, Mayor Sisemore, Chairman Smithee, Dr. Long, M. Keith Brown, my fellow Texans: today is just the latest reaffirmation that I married well.

On behalf of the Perry and Thigpen families, I want to say we are moved by this wonderful tribute paid to a proud graduate of West Texas A&M University, and a passionate advocate for better health care for all Texans.

Anita Thigpen Perry learned at a young age how vital quality health care is to the people of this state watching her father run his rural West Texas practice.

Dr. Joe Thigpen was the cure for what ailed the people of Haskell County, and he delivered care in a loving and nurturing environment for any and all who walked through his doors.

From her parents, Joe and Beunis, Anita learned the best traits of humanity: compassion for those of less fortune, the importance of strong neighborhoods and close-knit communities, and the vital role of family in shaping future generations.

She is a tremendous role model for our two children, an inspiration to all Texans seeking careers in the health care industry, and a pretty good influence on her husband too.

I have admired her for more than 40 years, ever since that elementary school recital. 

Her love for people was on full display during her years as a nurse.  (She was so devoted to her career that she showed no interest in my first couple of marriage proposals.)  For 17 years she worked in the nursing profession, dispensing care to the sick, and lifting the spirits of those facing illness and disease.

I can’t think of two better issues to celebrate today than the importance of the health care industry, and a college education.

Texas is facing a nursing shortage of close to 28,000 nurses.  The Anita Perry Nursing Excellence Scholarship will help inspire more young Texans to look at this important career path.

If young Texans are healthy and educated, there is no limit to what they can achieve in the Texas of the 21st Century.  I signed legislation to address the nursing shortage, as well as legislation that opens the doors of health care to hundreds of thousands of poor children through the Medicaid program because it is the right thing to do.

If young Texans get preventative and routine care, they will not be as likely to end up in the emergency room, where care is much more expensive, and conditions have often become chronic.

Texas will be a better place if more of our children are educated, and on track to receive a college education.

I am so proud to be here today to recognize, and welcome to the podium, a wonderful Texan, a tremendous mother and wife, a passionate advocate for better health care, Texas’s First Lady, and I might add, Texas’ First Nurse, Anita Perry.

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