May 18, 2002 - The Huntsville Item
Longtime educator retires
By Amy Westerman/Staff Writer
When Morris Johnson began his first year of teaching, he
planned to spend a year working in Huntsville ISD before moving on
to a larger school district.
Instead, he'll retire in June from his position as Samuel W.
Houston Elementary principal, after spending 39 years in HISD.
"(Then) superintendent and assistant superintendent Mance
Park and Oscar Thorn, they were so kind to me and warm and the
community so receptive to me, I just couldn't leave," Johnson
During his career, Johnson has held positions in schools and
the central office, including working as a high school teacher,
coach, math and science coordinator and, for the past 15 years,
principal at Samuel W. Houston Elementary.
Johnson said he never actively sought any of the positions he
held during his career, but was always ready to assume any job title
the administration and school board offered him.
"I'm a team player, so wherever I'm needed, that's where
I'll go," Johnson said.
Teachers said Johnson worked to create a family-like
atmosphere at his school, in part by maintaining a visible presence
on campus and by holding events like an annual fish fry for faculty
"He tries to make school our home away from home,"
Renee Spencer, a resource and special education teacher, said.
Johnson helps each faculty and staff member feel welcome when
they join the school, she said.
"It's been wonderful because Mr. Johnson is truly a
people person, helping the children, and when he takes on a new
staff member, he takes that person under his wing to nurture and
care for them," Spencer said.
Johnson responds to teachers' problems and always deals with
issues in a positive manner, even when they are negative, she said.
Sandra Welch, a fourth-grade teacher, said Johnson is probably
the reason she has been teaching at the school for 11 years.
"Had he not hired me for the fourth-grade position, I
really think I would have quit the teaching profession, because he
has guided me and mentored me for the last 10 years," Welch
Johnson makes a point of stopping by each classroom and
greeting the teachers in the morning, she said.
"We're going to miss his warm, smiling face because every
morning, he comes to every teacher and says, 'Good morning, have a
good day,'" she said.
In January 2001, Samuel Houston Elementary moved into its
current building, and the cafetorium was named for Johnson, Welch
Johnson said faculty members were worried about how the
mid-year move into the new facility would affect test scores.
"I feel most proud that we moved in the middle of the
year and everyone was afraid the TAAS scores would drop,"
Johnson said. "Instead, we were 'recognized' and one student
away from being 'exemplary.'"
The Texas Education Agency rates schools according to the
percentage of students passing the Texas Assessment of Academic
Skills, or TAAS. The ratings range from "low-performing"
Johnson was born in Corsicana and had seven brothers and
sisters. A high school chemistry teacher inspired him to pursue a
career in education.
After receiving an academic scholarship, he attended Huston-Tillotson
College in Austin, where he majored in chemistry and minored in
Johnson said he credits Percy Howard, a former principal of
Samuel Houston High School and, after desegregation, vice principal
of Huntsville High School, for his success in the district.
"If not for him, I could have been somewhere else,"
Johnson said. "My life has been emulated after him."
While Johnson was in Austin, where he had just graduated from
college, Howard scheduled an interview with him for a Friday
The interview lasted from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Johnson missed
a date he had planned for that night. The story has a happy ending,
however, since Johnson got the job and, in the end, the girl.
"The date I missed out on is the wife I'm married to
right now," he said.
His wife, Blossie, is already retired and Johnson said the
chance to spend more time with his family is a reason for his
He plans to travel during his retirement and wants to visit
By NANCY BENTLEY
Staff Writer - Pecos Enterprise
PECOS, AUG. 20, 1987 - With every stormy night that's passed since
22, a couple in Corsicana has thought about Saragosa.
Many storms have passed since that night when homes, stores, a
community center filled with people in tiny Saragosa where raised
Aid of every kind was rushed to the devastated scene, and the
given comfort as they buried their loved ones.
All this time a Christian couple;" Corsicana, stunned by
the news of the
tornado, have pondered, prayed and asked God to reveal to them what
could do to help.
That couple, Miriam and Odis Kindle, have firsthand knowledge
devastation and destruction a tornado leaves in its path, and all
stages and steps families have to endure in coping and recovering
such a crisis strikes.
As teachers, they also understand the financial strain
involved in getting children ready for another school year.
Just by the looks of the modest but adequate load of school
tennis shoes neatly packaged and bound for Saragosa, one might not
realized the deep love, concern and the purpose behind a mission
has gone into the purchasing, gathering and delivering of these
into the hands of children who survived the tornado.
In the early 1980s Mrs. Kindles' sister and brother-in-law
of a tornado that destroyed a residential section in Paris, Texas.
Commuting from Corsicana, the Kindles', were on hand to aid
members of their family in literally picking up the pieces of their
"I remember as a small child growing up in that very
Paris," said Odis Kindle, a retired school teacher. "I
know when, way
back, many families bought a lot and built their home there in
Many of my own childhood memories were swept away with the homes and
landmark trees that lined the streets of that destroyed section of
"There are so many things that have to be done, in the
aftermath of such
a storm. So many people rush to aid victims and supply their basic
needs, they're almost as desperate to help as the victims are
desperately helpless." said Mrs. Kindle. "We felt drawn to
victims' plight, but were unable to do anything to help them
"Since I still teach, I felt even more led to lend a
helping hand. But
what could we do," she said. "I had to begin another year
of teaching in
a few weeks, my time was running out and the people of Saragosa had
already received food, clothing and been provided with temporary
"Then it dawned on me an inspiration. School supplies!
will need things to get going in school in September," she
came back to me how much my sister and brother-in-law needed us or
caring person to help them with all the 'little things'."
"We wanted to just do this thing, supply a need for those
just throw money at a need, but give of ourselves and get the need
"We started going out to shop for school supplies. We
would meet friends
we had known for years while we were in the school supply sections
stores counting out supplies, making up price comparisons. They'd
at us funny or make some little joke, then we would tell them what
were up to. That's when the checkbooks came out, people wanted to
us help those children. "
"We believe God gave us the inspiration, what those
needed now," he said. "Then he provided the means, the
money. Not more
than was needed, but just the right amount to do the job, just as he
always does for his trusting children."
"We're not doing this to glorify ourselves, or for
attention but to show
that God knows people's needs and brings his own people into the
situation to supply those needs, " he said. "That is why
are sometimes put into crisis, led and taught about sorrows, ours
others, so we'll know how to be servants of God to help
"We hope by this publicity that others will be inspired
to fill in the
gaps, meet the needs, help with the little things that arise fOr
people in Saragosa until they can stand on their own," he said.
Friday the couple met in Balmorhea with Elizabeth Cook,
principal and delivered the "love packages" they prepared
makes extensive use of death row inmate's body
Joseph Paul Jernigan was a killer who requested that after his
execution in 1993 that his body be donated to science.
Jernigan didn't amount to much. He was an inept and brutal
criminal who landed on Texas' death row at the age of 27, after he
beat, stabbed and fatally shot an old man for a microwave oven and
Now his body _ computerized images made from CT scans and
photographs of prosciutto-thin slices of it _ is on view throughout
the world. It's on the Internet, in anatomy classes, on medical
students' Palm Pilots and even in stained-glass windows.
Either hoping for a measure of redemption, or fearing the
ignominy of a pauper's grave, Jernigan willed his body to science,
not knowing his corpse would be selected for the National Library of
Medicine's now-famous Visible Human Project. Images from the project
are on exhibit through Sept. 8 at Houston's Museum of Health and
Over the past several years, Jernigan's remains have been used
in ways he could never imagined. On the National Library of
Medicine's Web site, viewers can zoom through Jernigan's body, scalp
to toe. Researchers use the data to build virtual crash-test dummies
to ride in virtual cars. Lawyers use Jernigan to explain internal
injuries to juries.
A small publishing company turned Jernigan's head and torso
into an animated flipbook sold in museum and airport gift shops.
Cross-sections reproduced in stained glass now adorn the Minnesota
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul.
The University of Colorado created a surgical simulator, much
like a flight simulator. Researchers there have plans to take the
project further, photographing male and female cadavers of different
ages, races and body types.
Jernigan got the idea from a priest who counseled him. The
priest told men on death row they might contribute something
worthwhile to society through this final gesture.
Jernigan's mother, Annabelle McHenry of Corsicana, said she
feels some satisfaction today knowing his wish to "help someone
else" was granted.
Pat Batchelor, who as Navarro County district attorney
prosecuted Jernigan in 1981, said the idea of Jernigan having a
philanthropic side is "baloney."
"If he'd known what was going to happen to his body, he'd
never have done it. He wasn't the type of person to do anything for
anybody." Jernigan would have been horrified by the prospect of
getting "cut up in little pieces and put on the Internet,'
"But fortunately, we've been able to use his body to
maybe save some lives and train some medical students,"
Batchelor was quoted as saying in the Houston Chronicle's Monday
Dallas attorney Mark Ticer, who befriended Jernigan while
representing him on various appeals and encouraged him to start an
Alcoholics Anonymous chapter on death row, described Jernigan as
"shy" and thinks he would be "embarrassed" by
"He had his demons," Ticer said, "but he was
not looking for publicity."
Some of the images look disconcertingly like cuts of meat.
Others, obtained by manipulating digital data, emphasize different
components of the body. In one, the skeleton stands upright,
revealing everything from the kneecap to the delicate hyoid bone in
the neck. In another, the man's brain and spinal cord seemingly
float inside a thin outline of his skull, teeth bared in a creepy
Another image emphasizes the body's musculature. Certain
details remind the viewer this is no anatomical drawing, but a real
person. Five-11 Five feet 11 inches tall and 199 pounds when he
died, Jernigan had beefy arms, powerful thighs and a thick,
bulldog's neck from lifting weights in prison.
George Ganze, son of Hub and Lessie Bolen
Ganze of Powell is retiring at the end of the current school year,
after 43 years of service as a public school educator. Ganze grew up
in the Pursley community and graduated from Dawson High School. He
graduated from Navarro College and received his bachelor's of
science degree in chemistry and mathematics from East Texas State
University, now known as Texas A&M University-Commerce. He
received his master's of science degree in biology from ETSU in the
summer of 1962. During the following four summers he attended and
received credit from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.,
the University of California at Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif. and
Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif.
Ganze began his teaching career at East
Bernard High School in the 1959-1960 school year by teaching
biology, chemistry and physics. George spent 29 years in East
Bernard teaching science and later becoming the high school
principal in East Bernard. In the summer of 1988 he moved to
Rosebud-Lott High School and became the principal of that school. He
has been at Rosebud-Lott for 14 years.
He will continue to work with students by
being on the substitute teacher list at Rosebud-Lott and surrounding
Inducted into honor
Leslie Rena McClanahan was recently
inducted into the Cardinal Key National Honor Society at Texas Tech
University in Lubbock. She will serve as an officer for the
organization. Only 1/2 of 1 percent of junior and senior college
students are invited into the Cardinal Key National Honor Society.
McClanahan is also an active member of the
Zeta Tau Alpha sorority serving as vice president of membership. She
is also a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society, the National
Collegiate Scholars of America, Tech Friends, and Alpha Epsilon
Delta serving as service chairman for the organization.
She finished the spring semester with a 4.0
GPA, and will enter her senior year at Texas Tech as a pre-med
major, with a major in zoology, and a minor in chemistry.
McClanahan is the daughter of Chuck and
Susan McClanahan, and the granddaughter of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Lang,
and the late Mr. And Mrs. C. S. McClanahan, all of Corsicana.
Castillo selected as junior statesman
Adelaide Castillo, a 17-year-old-student at
Corsicana High School, has been selected to attend the 61st annual
session of the Junior Statesman Summer School at the University of
Texas in Austin June 10-14. Anyone wishing to make an individual
donation to help Castillo may call her at (903) 874-2012.
The Junior Statesman Foundation is a
501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization founded in 1938.
While the students take college-level
courses in American government and speech, they will also
participate in nightly debates of controversial public policy issues
in congressional workshop. Highlighting the numerous sessions will
be frequent meetings with a high-level group of leaders from
government, business, and the media. This nonpartisan speakers
program gives future leaders a chance to share ideas with today's
Castillo was selected into this prestigious
program because of her outstanding academic record and potential for
She is also active in multiple
extra-curricular and community activities. During the past three
years she has been a high school cheerleader, competes on a
competition cheerleading squad currently, high school volleyball
player, track competitor, debater, advancing extemporaneous speaker,
dedicated Future Farmers of America member in raising animals and
FFA events, UIL academics competitor, member of Future Business
Leaders of America, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Leo
Club, Navarro Regional Hospital candy striper and Vacation Bible
School leader. She has been Spanish Club treasurer (2000-2001) and
vice president (2001-2002), Volunteen's secretary (2000-2001) and
vice president (2001-2002), Class Act treasurer (2001-2002), Student
Council treasurer and secretary (2001-2002), currently National
Honor Society president (2002-2003), FFA secretary (2002-2003) and
Student Council president (2002-2003).
She has been involved in Christmas in
October for the past four years. Every summer she participates in
World Changers, a camp where she roofs houses and does construction
work all day for five days, while ministering to the community. She
traveled to Romania last summer and worked in an orphanage as well
as ministered all over the country of Romania.
Castillo hopes to attend the Junior
Statesman Summer Forum to enrich her knowledge and experience. This
opportunity will benefit her greatly in her plans for college and
Walters awarded scholarship
Ryan Adam Walters, a 2002 graduate of
Dawson High School, has been awarded a one-year $1,000 Youth
Livestock Show Scholarship sponsored by the State Fair of Texas.
Since 1992, the State Fair of Texas
Scholarship Program has awarded scholarships to academically
talented students who graduate from high schools in the Dallas State
Fair Park area. In 1993, the scholarship program expanded its youth
support by awarding scholarships to academically talented students
who participated in the State Fair of Texas Youth Livestock Shows.
Walters participated in the State Fair of
Texas Youth Livestock Show from 1995 to 2001. He showed in the youth
beef heifer shows and won numerous places including grand champion
twice. In high school, he was an active member of FFA, 4-H Club,
National Honor Society, one-act play and class offices. He held
numerous offices in those clubs and received many awards and honors
during his high school career.
Walters plans to attend Tarleton State
University and major in international agribusiness. He is the son of
Richard and Becky Walters of Dawson.
Kristen Elizabeth Whitehead of Corsicana
graduated magna cum laude from Texas Tech University in Lubbock May
11. She graduated from the school of arts and sciences with a major
in political science and a minor in history.
She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha social
sorority. She is also a member of Gamma Beta Phi Honor Fraternity,
National Collegiate Honor Society of Texas Tech and the Golden Key
Whitehead is a 1999 recipient of the James
L. Collins Scholarship, the McFadden Leadership Scholarship from
Texas Teach, Eastern Star Scholarship, and the Aley United Methodist
She is the daughter of Gerald and Cheryl
Whitehead of Corsicana and the granddaughter of J.C. and Colleen
Patterson of Kemp and Ronald and Gladys Whitehead of Corsicana.
Joanna Ellis graduated magna cum laude from
Tarleton State University in Stephenville May 11. Ellis was awarded
a bachelor of science degree from the college of education in
exercise and sports study. She also received a letter from the
president of the college congratulating her on a 4.0 grade point
average her last two semesters. While at Tarleton, she was inducted
into Phi Epsilon Kappa, a national honor society, and was named to
the dean's list several semesters.
Ellis graduated from Blooming Grove High
School in 1997 and Lon Morris College in 1999 where she was a member
of the volleyball and softball teams. She will begin her teaching
and coaching career in the fall at Lamar Consolidated Independent
School District in Rosenberg. She will be teaching science and
coaching volleyball, basketball and track. Ellis is the daughter of
Hugh and Jo Beth Ellis.
Whorton receives award
K.C. Whorton of Kerens and the Kerens FFA
Chapter was recently presented the chapter's highest honor, the
DeKalb Agricultural Accomplishment Award, sponsored by Monsanto
Whorton, daughter of Kip and Janet Whorton,
received the award for her excellence in academics, leadership and
Supervised Agricultural Experience program. An SAE is a work-based
learning program where a student applies the concepts learned in the
agricultural classroom. Whorton's program consisted of market steers
and poultry. David Atkeisson and Ed Strange were Whorton's
agriculture education instructor and FFA advisor at Kerens High
The descendants of Arkie Allie Nutt Wigley
and Madison Dekalb Wigley held a reunion Saturday, May 26 in
Richland at the home of one of their grandsons, Sonny and Geneva
The 2002 cousins reunion was held in memory
of Arkie and Madison Wigley and in honor of their only living child,
87-year-old Lavonia Williams of San Antonio.
Also present were 12 out of their 18
grandchildren as well as their children and grandchildren, nieces
and nephews. Also, Mrs. Williams had two first cousins in
attendance, Raymond Grace and Addie Lee Arnold, both of Corsicana.
In attendance also were Dolores Baldwin,
mayor of Richland, and William Baldwin, Navarro County Precinct
Three commissioner. Leslie Cotten, Navarro County sheriff, was
invited but unable to attend because of duty.
There was well over 100 family members plus
about 10 or 12 neighbors in attendance. The families came from all
over the state of Texas, from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande, and
as far away as Huntsville, Ala.
The Wigleys plan on making this an annual
event with the next reunion scheduled for the second weekend in June
quadruplets make visit to see grandparents in Corsicana
By RUTH THOMPSON/Daily Sun Staff
entering the room, Lila was surrounded by three little boys
squirming all over the couch trying to see the pictures as she read
to them. They all looked identical, except Anderson's blonde hair.
Then two little girls wearing identical
dresses ran into the room laughing about the TV show they had just
watched. It became confusing after that.
It's story about quadruplets; four children
born at the same time. Yet here is a room filled with five children
who look alike. Lila, the mother, explained that the littlest girl
was Lauren, who was born 26 months after the quadruplets.
Lila (Gober) Peake gave birth to the
quadruplets, Mark, John, Anderson, and the youngest and only girl,
Lilian, April 25, 1997. Since that day Mark and Lila Peake's lives
have been filled with excitement created by these children.
Four 5 year olds plus a 3 year old equals a
lot of energy and never a dull moment for the Peake family. Recently
the Peake family flew in from their home in Lynchburg, Va. to visit
Lila's parents, Ralston and Linda Gober.
"We've really enjoyed Corsicana,"
Lila said. "It's been fun for the kids especially. We've
visited the Cook Center, Pioneer Village, the neighbors' pool and
the local fire station gave us a tour. It's been like resort
Corsicana for 5 year olds."
The kids wake up around 6:30 in the
morning, play all day and go to bed at around seven o'clock. They
usually read a lot of story books during the day and swim. While
Lauren keeps up with her energetic siblings and does whatever they
do, she has recently discovered that she is somewhat shorter and
can't swim as well.
"That leads to some frustration to
Lauren, but fortunately she knows not to try to swim in the deep
in," Lila said. "We were so glad that we had Lauren.
Lilian now has another girl around the house to play with. Though we
try to encourage them to make friends outside of their
Their local preschool in Lynchburg offers
four separate classes. So the Peakes' decided it would be best that
the quadruplets should be separated, and making friends put aside
their unique play group.
"They took it pretty well, but it was
a different experience for them," Lila said. "They weren't
used to asking friends over or going to birthday parties with out
their other siblings. Mark and John had some trouble at the
beginning. When ever their classes passed each other on the
playground they started crying. By the end of the year they stopped
crying and just waved.
"Mark and John are the closest in the
group, and they look like twins. Anderson is more independent; he
did really well in preschool. Lilian's shy, but she and Lauren get
along pretty well."
The children do seem to pair off and
Anderson floated from one group to another in the pool.
In the house, Mark and John were the most
active of the group, playing with a dart gun and using a cardboard
Santa Claus for target practice. Though Santa didn't seem to mind at
all as he just kept smiling, hand up in greeting.
Anderson watched his brothers and called
out warnings ever so often. Anderson was definitely concerned for
his brothers' presents. While their father, Mark, supervised and
made complements from the sidelines. Lila, Lilian and Lauren had
retreated to the other room, not wanting to be part of anything that
might get them on Santa's bad side. Or perhaps they just did not
want to get hit by a sticky dart.
Taking photos of the children proved to be
mildly difficult in the fact not every one looks at the camera at
the same time, but pictures turn out to be adorable.
The children, though very active, are
really well behaved for their age.
While many people may run screaming into
the night after five minutes with five children, the Peakes enjoy
Ruth Thompson may be contacted via e-mail
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