There are two purposes for Comments in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Comments can either add information to aid in the understanding of the entry or add information that provides an alternate interpretation of the historical record.


Information included in this section is not fact checked by the Encyclopedia staff. The author of the Comment is entirely responsible for its content.


My grandmother was Ruth "Cookie" Altheimer, housemaid to the Altheimers at the Elms House. She was recognized by the name Cookie by her relatives, whom she worked for. Her Jewish descendants were from Germany; they left her behind to move back to Germany because family over there was in trouble with the Hitler regime. They are believed to have been lost in the Holocaust.

My father is the late Bishop Tommy Lee (T. L.) Westbrook, Cookie's son who was sired by a black Native American. My father held his office for more than 36 years, and left us with the legacy of the first chief justice for the Churches of God In Christ, Inc. Before his passing last October, he gave me all the history he could remember, leaving me behind to find the rest. 

Grandma Ruth was a blues singer in the Pine Bluff area, traveling with a great pianist whom I believe was either her brother or her cousin by the name of Joshua Altheimer.

Ruth "Cookie" Altheimer's only two children were Willie Beatrice (daughter) and Tommy Lee (son).


Charlotte Westbrook
University Place, WA


Very interesting. I just found out that this person is my great-great-grandfather. I can see he was a great man.

Latonia Robinson
Milwaukee, WI


This year, several Altheimer Elementary students were featured in a book called The School of Dreams. The book featured the dreams and goals of talented young people and mentioned how the Altheimer Foundation's giving program helped me to receive a chemical engineering degree from UA in Fayetteville.

Brenette Wilder
Lee's Summit, MO