Lila Rutherford
of Navarro County, Texas


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 Lila Rutherford | Poem | Obituary



Give Thanks For A Beloved Former
School Nurse,-Miss Lila Rutherford

By Carolyn Stewart Carroll
What a privilege is affords me to share with the readers of the Examiner the life and times of the wonderful woman, Miss Lila Rutherford, a former school nurse with C.I.S.D. and especially remembered at the former G. W. Jackson High School of Corsicana.
Miss Rutherford endeared herself to everyone who knew her at Jackson and she herself valued highly the associates she made there.
From her opening letter you will be transported back to another era in time and many of you will recall vividly the people and events she brings to mind.
So sit back, rest a spell and enjoy the fabulous Miss Lila Rutherford.
Lila Rutherford

Lila Rutherford born 31 August 1908, Barry. TX. Seventh and youngest child of Wm. Benjamin and Mary Ardenia Butler Rutherford. Graduate of Barry High School, 1925; Bachelor's degree North Texas State Teachers College, Denton, Tx. 1932. Graduate Baylor University School of Nursing, Dallas, Tx. 1935. Master's Degree University Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mi. 1945. On campus courses at University of Texas, Austin, Tx. University North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N. C. (on Rockefeller Fellowship). Teacher in public school 4 years. Teacher in business school and staff nurse in Genesee Hospital, Rochester, N.Y., 1936-1939.

Twelve week bicycle tour of Europe, 1938. Brief internship with visiting Nurse Assn., Detroit, MI and Health Dept. Calhoun Co., MI. Health supervisor, National youth Administration for 24 counties in East Texas. Public health nurse in Travis and Bastrop Counties, Texas State Director of Health Education, National Defense Act, Austin, Tx. Last employment, nurse with Corsicana-Navarro Co. Health Dept. and Corsicana Independent School District. Retired 1973. In 1994, living in Corsicana with Katie Canine enjoying retirement and stamp collecting.

An Open Letter to the Friends of the Examiner from Miss Lila Rutherford.
Dear Friends,
This is Lila Rutherford writing to you. Do you know me? Do you remember the public health nurse who began work here in Corsicana and Navarro County in 1946? Dr. Will Miller employed me to do general public health nursing which at that time included ALL of the many schools in Navarro County.
At that time there were rural schools scattered neighborhood by neighborhood. Schools were segregated by race which almost doubled the number.
Accidents and diseases know no racial barriers. Facetiously it may be said that illness and injury are EOT - Equal Opporunity Threats. Safety, sanitation and general health needs are the same for all and I, this same nurse, worked with them all in the very same way.
A few years later my work was limited to school nursing with the Corsicana Independent School District. The schools were still segregated by race for teachers and students. Only the nurse continued as usual on her rounds for all. Jackson School was on East 5th Avenue. It was referred to as Jackson High, although it included both elementary and high school.
In my early years here, the principal at Jackson was Walter Cotton. He was referred to as Professor Cotton. His staff included such well respected teachers as Roxie Cooksey. Alva Jean Smith, Zenobia Marshall, Hulen Smith, Jimmie D. Powell, and Katherine Stevenson, as well as others.
In 1946, Carolyn Stewart, one of the graduating seniors, was so popular that there was a whole page picture of her in the annual, The Jacksonian. Among other prominent students with pictures in the annual were Mordecai Hines, Lavinnius Conley, and Tommy Flowers, a talented artist.
In the cotton mill area, there was an elementary school, Booker T. Washington, with the Listers, a man and wife, as principal, and first grades teacher. She also gave private piano lessons. Among the teachers at Booker T. were Erma Walton, Sadie Andrews, and Mary Alice Watts. One year there were twins, Ardie and Tardie Turner, in the first grade. Nancy Jessie prepared and served tasty wholesome meals part of which were vegetables grown in her garden.
The names of many 1940's and 1950's teachers are vivid in my mind. In naming a few no slight is intended for the many left un-named. Johnnie Mae Moore, Juanita Tankersley, Tennie Chimeny, Myrtle Padgitt Davis, and Arizona Johnson are names in my memory.
Other principals and teachers with the schools were Curtis Sparks at Dawson, the W.P. Davenports at Pelham, Freeman Robinson at Frost, Chester Thomas at Elm Flat, and the Hamptons at Goodlow Park (Kerens).
Dr. Davis and Dr. Orr, medical doctors, and Dr. Smith, dentist had offices in Corsicana.
The mother of Fran Mosley and Eleanor Pearl Mosley Carroll was a spirited leader who took the American Red Cross course for First Aid Instructiors. She qualified to teach First Aid for Certification.
This letter is a superficial backward glance at some of my early experiences since to coming to Corsicana in 1946. It is altogether from memory without verification. In no way can it include all. Please let these references represent all. This letter is not to imaginary friends, to those who in any way can identify with, appreciate, and respect these persons who are mentioned.
May God bless us all! Lila Rutherford

To begin our Thanksgiving season, let us reflect on with gratitude all the people in our lives who have meant much to our growth and maturity. Such people are our teachers and school nurses who have served us with willingness and cheerfulness. These people have made a lasting impact and remarkable contribution. To the generation in which they served and all their work remains forever preserved for posterity. May we never forget the love and friendship of people such as Miss Lila Rutherford. Your many friends thank you Miss Rutherford for a life well spent, a life dedicated to the good of humankind. May the Lord reward you always and make this Thanksgiving 1994 your most blessed.

Corsicana's Miss Lila Rutherford


The Examiner, Vol 5. No. 11, Corsicana, Texas - Nov 1994


Rutherford dies at 98

Intellectual crossed racial barriers to help children

By Janet Jacobs

Lila Rutherford, original, groundbreaking, opinionated and a perfectionist, the first school nurse in Corsicana, died Sunday in Corsicana. She was 98.

Rutherford never married, never had children, but used her independence to see the world, and get a superior education that allowed her to pursue her career choice wherever it led. Eventually, it brought her back to Navarro County, where she was to have an impact on the lives of thousands of children over three decades with the county and school system.

In 1938, the independent Rutherford took a 12-week bicycle tour of Europe, returning home just before the start of World War II.

“She said she just barely made it back across the ocean,” said Mark Luera, pastor of First Christian Church, who will be officiating at her funeral.

Rutherford was born in Barry in 1908, the youngest daughter of W. Benjamin and Mary Butler Rutherford. After high school, she went to North Texas State Teachers College for her bachelor’s degree.

She taught school for four years before deciding that the need for public health outweighed any other needs, and went back to school to become a nurse.

“I think she was pursuing what she really wanted to do,” said Judy Rodgers, who worked with Rutherford three decades ago, and remained friends with her through the years.

Rutherford got her nursing degree from the Baylor University School of Nursing in Dallas, and her masters degree in public health from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

She worked as a supervisor with the National Youth Administration, covering 24 counties in East Texas, then became the public health nurse in Travis and Bastrop counties, before taking the job of State Director of Health Education in Austin.

It was while working in Austin that she was introduced to a young politician named Lyndon Baines Johnson, who eagerly helped promote the concept of public health nurses in schools.

When her mother became ill in 1946, Rutherford moved back to Corsicana, and went to work for Navarro County as public health nurse, covering all the schools from Dawson to Kerens. After her mother passed away, she stayed to take care of her aging father, and continued her work in the county.

“She was well-educated, she knew what she was doing, and her work was her life,” said Gretchen London, who worked with Rutherford for a short while. “She cared about the students, about the health of the students. She was a pioneer in school nursing.”

At the time, the schools were segregated by race, but Rutherford was the common bond, traveling between all the districts and campuses. She later said that the problems of illness, injury, sanitation and general health were all the same, regardless of which school she visited.

“She started school nursing in Corsicana,” said Clyde Bullard, who worked as a school nurse with Rutherford from 1968 until 1973.

When her county health duties were transferred to the school district, Rutherford began working for the Corsicana School District exclusively. She finally retired in 1973.

“She was a perfectionist,” London explained. “She knew how it should be done, and that’s what she attempted to do.”

Working with her made the other nurses want to do better, London said.

“You wanted to do your best when you were working with her,” she said. “You tried to emulate her perfection.”

Analytical and precise, many people who encountered Lila Rutherford never got to see the softer side of her, her friends said.

She cared deeply about children, and also loved animals, particularly dogs. Her sense of humor was dry, but she enjoyed telling jokes and reading cartoons, especially any that included dogs.

“If she didn’t agree with you, she’d say ‘that’s interesting,’” Rodgers said, laughing. “She was a character.”

Rutherford enjoyed reading, wrote poetry and collected stamps as a hobby. She taught piano lessons for a while, as well, sharing her love of music with children.

“I just remember her as being very self-disciplined and very intellectual,” said Dorothy King, who worked in the food services department with her years ago.

Rutherford is survived by two nieces from Alabama, and a nephew from Dallas. A graveside service will take place at 3 p.m. at Grange Hall Cemetery, where her parents are also interred.

Corsicana Daily Sun - Nov 7, 2006


This poem written by Lila Rutherford will be published in the "Leaves & Branches" that will be in the mail next week.  Liz has just about ready to start printing.  Lila is a chartered member of the Society and is up in years. I believe she is in the Twilight Home, but still interested in genealogy.  She has gave some books to the Genealogy Rm.  

Lila Rutherford was a School Nurse in the Corsicana ISD




Find your people! Find your people!

In courthouse or by church steeple;

In dim print of old newspapers

Read of great grandfather’s capers.


From the dates of census takers

And the bygone history makers

Learn the stories of ancestors,

Landed lords or lowly nesters.


Trunks in attics, old love letters

All await ambitious getters

Fill in parts of records lacking

For your people you are tracking.


Find your people! Saints and sinners!

Find the losers and the winners

All your time and effort spending

In this quest that’s never ending.

Lila Rutherford



Updated Link for Lila's Biography:

I am descended from the Roberts family who arrived in Navarro county in 1846, the Lemley, Ross and Hellums families, all of whom were in Navarro before 1900.  Please show a link to my families:

Thanks. Ruby Nell Collins


Grange Hall Cemetery

Navarro County TXGenWeb
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Edward L. Williams