Friends and family members, as well as the members of the Bullard community, are invited to attend the birthday party of Dr. Marjorie Roper, also known as the First Lady of Bullard, to be held Saturday, May 20, at the Bullard History Museum, located at 105 S. Phillips St.
The birthday event for Roper, lasting from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., will coincide with her’s upcoming 96th birthday in June.
Roper, a lifelong Bullard resident, was born June 7, 1921, to the late Hattie and Oran (O.L) Ferrell, owners of the O.L. Ferrell Drug Store, inside the Ferrell home, located at 213 W. Emma St. in Bullard.
As a child, Roper attended Bullard Elementary School and Bullard High School, graduating as the valedictorian of the Class of 1937, just shy of her 16th birthday.
After graduating from BHS, Roper attended Tyler Junior College and studied pre-medicine. Roper graduated from TJC in June 1939, ranked as the third highest graduate in her class.
Enrolling at the University of Texas at Austin in August 1939, Roper was selected for early medical school acceptance after only one year of additional pre-medicine studies.
Roper attended the University of Texas Medical Branch, located in Galveston, beginning in August 1940, one of three female students in the program. She graduated from UTMB in July 1943 with her M.D. degree.
After medical school, Roper was accepted for an internship at Parkland Hospital in Dallas lasting from August 1943 to June 1944. She then began as a pediatric resident at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.
Roper returned home to her native Bullard and married her high school sweetheart, Leonard Bauman Roper, Aug. 25, 1944, inside the First Baptist Church of Bullard.
She received one of her most favorite birthday gifts on her 24th birthday, when she gave birth to her first child, Daniel Leonard Roper, born June 7, 1945.
Roper’s career in the medical field began in July 1945 as she began working as an associate at Andres-Cook Pediatric Practice in Longview.
Roper also worked inside the child health division of Texas State Department of Health in Austin primarily supervising midwife training, as well as the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Biloxi, Miss., while her husband, flying Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Bombers out of England in World War II, had been assigned following recall to active duty with the United States Air Corps.
On Memorial Day of 1947, Roper opened her practice in Bullard in the back of her father’s drug store, a space once occupied by her childhood idol, Dr. Claude Rather.
During her time as the only practicing physician for Bullard, as well as Frankston, Troup, and Whitehouse, Roper brought three of her own children into the world: Thomas Luther Roper, born Sept. 4, 1949; Harriett Elizabeth Roper (Page), born Dec. 2, 1951; and Richard Cleveland Roper, born Sept. 5, 1954.
In 1968, Roper accepted a part-time position at the Rusk State Hospital, while continuing to maintain her private medical practice in Bullard. Roper retired from the part-time position at the Rusk State Hospital in 1987, turning what was originally a three month temporary assignment into 19 years of service.
Roper added a valuable asset to her private medical practice in Bullard when her daughter-in-law, Linda, an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, joined her staff in 2000 as a primary care giver.
In October 2006, Roper announced her formal retirement from full-time medical practice after 59 years of serving Bullard and the surrounding communities. In the same year, Roper was named the first director of Bullard United Methodist Church’s Christus House Clinic. The clinic was renamed in Roper’s honor in 2009.
Even though she was retired, Roper continued to remain active, opening the Bullard Historical Museum inside her father’s old drug store building in November 2012. At the museum, patrons can learn about the history of Bullard through several donated pieces of memorabilia from Bullard High School, the City of Bullard, and many more.
Roper has received several distinguished awards throughout her 94 years of life, including the 1963 Texas Baptist Mother of the Year award; TJC’s Distinguished Graduate Award in 1999; receiving the Key to Old Parkland from Parkland Hospital in 2009; and the Community Builder Award by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas in 2015.
In 2014, the City of Bullard paid honor to Roper and her contributions to the city by renaming a section of Hwy. 69 in Bullard as Doctor M. Roper Pkwy., with approximately 100 members of the Bullard community attending the event.
The idea of renaming the highway was introduced to the city council by Mayor Pam Frederick, with the city council unanimously approving the renaming. The parkway covers Hwy. 69 within the city limits of Bullard, stretching from just north of Brookshire’s to just south of the overpass.
Those attending the Dr. Roper birthday event are asked to not bring birthday gifts, but to just come and enjoy Bullard’s history inside the museum and seeing a living Bullard legend.