This Monday and Tuesday, Nolan County and the City of Sweetwater, respectively, will recognize a community member who has been very active, through the reading of proclamations. "Wes Bishop Day" on Tuesday will allow friends, family and the community to recollect on Bishop's achievements and involvement not only from a professional standpoint, but at a personal level.
For almost 36 years, Bishop served as the Director of Physical Therapy at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH). However, very serious health issues recently forced Bishop to step down and not return to work.
Bishop is the son of Colleen and the late Garland Bishop of Snyder. A 1970 graduate of Snyder High School, he was very involved as a member of the Student Council and National Honor Society.
As a high school sophomore, he was elected class president and class favorite. During his senior year, Bishop once again earned the title of class favorite and was named Mr. Snyder High School.
Throughout his high school years, he was the captain of the basketball team and earned All-District, All-Area, All-South Plains and All-West Texas honors as a senior. Additionally, he lettered in baseball all three years, as he received All-District and All-Area honors as well as the Robert Hobbs Memorial Most Valuable Player Award in 1970.
As a result of his athletic achievements, Bishop was inducted into the Snyder Sports Hall of Honor in September 2008. His picture now hangs in the atrium of the Snyder High School gymnasium.
A baseball scholarship allowed Bishop to attend Abilene Christian College. During that time, he set four school records: single-season home runs, single-season RBIs, career records for RBIs, and total bases.
In his fifth year in college in 1975, he served as an assistant baseball coach. Sixteen years later, in 1991, he would play an active role in reinstating the baseball program at Abilene Christian University (ACU) through the fundraising event, the ACU Nolan Ryan Celebrity Quail Hunt.
After graduating from Abilene Christian College in 1975 with a degree in biology and physical education, Bishop attended physical therapy school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas and graduated in 1977.
On September 1 of that same year, Bishop and his wife Margaret moved to Sweetwater, and he became the first physical therapy director at RPMH.
As a result of Bishop's instrumental work in planning, fundraising and development, the two-hundred square foot department in 1977 expanded to a 2,000 square-foot department in 1982 and then to a 6,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art complex in 1998. Also in 1982, he was the first recipient of the hospital's prestigious Dr. Frist Humanitarian Award.
That same year, Bishop was named Outstanding Young Man of America. Four years later in 1986, he was elected as Outstanding Young Man by the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce.
His community involvement includes serving for two years as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nolan County American Heart Association, member of the Hospice Board of Directors, and chairman of the Mayor's Committee for the Disabled.
Bishop also served on the Sweetwater ISD (Independent School District) Board of Trustees for a decade, and in 1996 served as board president. During his service, the high school football field was renovated with artificial turf, thanks to the sponsorship of former SHS alumnus, Larry Durham.
His work within Sweetwater High School (SHS) consisted of leading the renovation of the SHS baseball facilities in 1996, along with serving as sponsor for the SHS Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Furthermore, he coached youth basketball and soccer for eight years, as well as youth baseball for 20 years.
In addition, Bishop has been a member of the Fourth & Elm Church of Christ for 36 years. His ministries included serving as 6th grade Sunday School teacher, care group leader, deacon for 20 years and elder for the past eight years.
Beyond his church family, Bishop has been married to his wife Margaret for 38 years. Before becoming engaged in 1975, she had to recite the starting line-up of his favorite professional baseball team, the Chicago Cubs.
The couple has three sons: Brett and his wife Jenna of San Antonio; and Lance and Reid, both of Austin. But regardless of the accolades and positions, Bishop's children shared in a statement about his top achievements--being a son, husband, and father; being selfless in his service; and being surrendered to the Lord:
"Of the thousands of men and women Dad has served countless hours, he even gave more of his time to his parents, wife, and kids. Truly a man of consistency, he was always there. Always providing, always asking questions, always coaching, always leading. I don't have a memory in my life of Dad not being around. Dad serves Mom in a way the world doesn't understand. He's the most humble man I know and has spent his whole life serving The Lord through people. Dad gives what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose. He learned early in life that this really isn't a life about him at all. So he gave it away. To you, to me, all to the service of the Lord. An unbelievable example we all have today in Dad is a life being lived exceptionally close to our Savior, Jesus."
Writer's Note: A special thank you is extended to Margaret Bishop and Donna Boatright for their work in gathering the information and photos.