Monday, June 28, 2010

Remembering teachers past

H. A. SCHROEDER was a long-time Superintendent of Schools in Chadron, well-known and high respected throughout the community. A native of Pierce County and a graduate of Wayne College, he was a standout athlete during his years with the “Wildcats.”

After graduating from Wayne, his career in education took him to Scribner, where he was Superintendent for 11 years. Then it was on to Broken Bow for four years; but then he left education to manage a Broken Bow hotel. In 1946, Schroeder and his wife, Opal, came to Chadron, where he had been hired as manager of the Blaine Hotel; however, he was soon recruited to replace the late James Skinkle as Superintendent of Schools.

Henry “Heinie” Schroeder served as School Superintendent from 1947 until 1967.

While a few students over those years got to see the inside of Heinie’s office and experience “character-building” spankings, most knew him as a gregarious and fairly jovial fellow, who – with little prompting – was happy to demonstrate his football skills by punting a ball to the top of the school building. Opal Schroeder taught Kindergarten at East Ward for some 20 years. Their daughter, Susan (Schroeder) Lundberg, was a 1955 graduate of Chadron High School.

Upon retirement, Heinie worked at the Pine Ridge Job Corps Center for a few years. Chadron historian/writer Con Marshall says Heinie played a key role in getting accreditation for the school at the Job Corps Center, which is nestled atop a hill south of Chadron in the Nebraska National Forest.

It wasn’t long, however, before the Schroeders decided to head back to their roots in eastern Nebraska, spending their remaining years in Norfolk.

Heinie Schroeder died in 1983; Opal passed away in 1990.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Remembering teachers past

RON and JANE BECKER taught at Chadron High School for two years – 1958-59 and 1959-60. Jane taught English and Speech; Ron directed the band and choir.

The Beckers grew up in Lincoln and met at the University of Nebraska. As teachers at CHS, they were both involved with many student productions, including God’s Trombones and Carousel. By1960, Jane became a stay-at-home mom to care for their new son. They soon moved to Scottsbluff, where Ron became Director of Instrumental Music for the school system. He took the Scottsbluff band to Washington, DC for the inauguration of president John F. Kennedy in 1961 and to the New York World’s Fair in 1964.

By 1968, Ron Becker began a career in school administration, taking the position of assistant principal at Scottsbluff High School. Shortly after the arrival of their daughter, the Beckers moved to Lincoln, where he was Director of Secondary Education for the Nebraska Deptartment of Education; during this period, he pursued and earned his doctorate at NU. Jane worked for Stanford Research. After Ron’s stint as state director for the North Central Association, the family moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1976, and Ron became director of secondary education for the school district. In 1994, he retired, but later went back as assistant superintendent for the Sioux Falls School System for a couple of years. From 1995 through 2005, he served as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense, traveling the globe in evaluating Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS).

Jane Becker was also at work in the 1990s, specializing in clergy taxes for a Sioux Falls CPA firm. She retired in 1996, but continued to volunteer for the IRS/AARP program.

Active in the arts community of Sioux Falls, Ron was enlisted to serve on the Board of Directors for the Friends of South Dakota Broadcasting, where he contributed his talents for many years – including multiple terms on the national Association for Public Television Stations.

The Beckers live in Sioux Falls.
NOTE: Thanks to Con Marshall for providing much of the information contained in this piece.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Remembering teachers past

ROBERTA GROVER was Librarian and also taught English at Chadron High School from 1957 to 1961.

Born on November 29, 1911 on her parent’s country farm south of Beloit Kansas, Roberta (Lukens) Grover graduated from high school in 1925 and from Sterling College, a four-year Christian school located in Sterling, Kansas, in 1933. She had a desire to become a school teacher and had taught at some rural schools even before she acquired her college degree. Roberta quit teaching when she married Oscar Grover, a minister.

They raised three sons, and Roberta went back to teaching high school while her sons were in high school. The family arrived in Chadron, Nebraska in the summer of 1957. She was at Chadron High School for four years before moving to Moberly, Missouri. Some years later, Mrs. Grover retired in her home town, Beloit, Kansas.

Her two oldest sons, Delbert (1958), and Ron (1959) graduated from CHS, and her youngest son, Robert, attended Junior High and two years of high school in Chadron. Both Delbert and Ron were able to attend the CHS joint reunion of the classes of 1958 and 1959 last summer in Chadron.

Mrs. Grover lived at Presbyterian Manor in Newton, Kansas until her death in 1987 at the age of 75.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Junior Eagles dynasty

There were few teams that could keep pace with the basketball squad at Chadron Prep during the decade or so before the high school closed its doors in 1961. The Junior Eagles won state championships in 1950, 1952 and 1955 under the legendary Archie Conn. Those teams were also undefeated.

Names like Kuska, Hampton, Lytle, and Muma still conjure up images of a stellar group of players that few teams anywhere in Nebraska could keep pace with. Jim Hampton was a starter with the 1951 squad -- shown above in a photo that Jim has kindly shared with us. Sitting on the floor in front of his teammates, the 5'2" Hampton looks almost like a team ball boy -- a perception quickly dispelled once the half-pint hoopster took to the floor. He was just a freshman, and he did grow to a "towering" 5'5" by his Junior year.

Dr. Jim Hampton is now retired from Dow Corning. He and his wife, Shirlee (Durham), live in Midland, Michigan.

Jim provided us with this key to the above photo: standing (left-to-right) are Ervin Horton, Jim Forbes, Allen Livermont, Bob Buchanan, Franklin Clark, Pete Woods, Duane McMeekin, Dale Webster, Tom Hoffman, Jim Neeland, John Kent, and Ken Woolery; seated (l-r) are Jim Palmer, Curt Roberts, Bob Armstrong, Bob Allgood, Charlie Muma, Larry Lytle, Les Churchill, Wally Goff, and Coach Archie Conn. Jim Hampton is in front. To take a closer look at this photo -- along with others -- visit our Chadron Schools Gallery.

Just a note about Archie Conn. From his days at Chugwater, Wyoming, until he chalked up an impressive 247-33 career record at Chadron Prep, Archie Conn was a coach who seemed to know how to get the most out of his players. When Prep closed, Archie remained at Chadron State for a few years before taking a job teaching education courses at the University of South Dakota-Springfield, where he retired in 1972. He died in 1984.

It was our pleasure to interview Archie Conn in 1976 after he had moved back to Chadron. That was the year he was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from Chadron State College, a well-deserved honor for a remarkable career dedicated to young people and their education.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Remembering teachers past

GORDON “FUZZ” WATTS was one of those rare individuals who seemed endowed with natural talent for just about anything he pursued.

Born in Denver in 1928, “Fuzz” Watts grew up in Sheridan, Wyoming, where he graduated from high school. After a tour in the Pacific as an Air Force cryptographer, he went to college at the University of Wyoming, but soon transferred to NSTC at Chadron, where he was a three-year football letterman.

He married Bonnie Haun in 1951; they had four children: #1-Patti; #2-Debbie; #3-Mike; and #4-Bill. After graduating from college in 1952, Watts signed a contract with Chadron schools and would change the fortunes of Cardinal football – leading the 1954 team to the first undefeated season for Chadron High since 1927. During his 11 years at the helm of the football program, his teams racked up a 79-17-4 record. They won conference crowns nine times and were undefeated in 1954, 1956, 1960 and 1962.

As Athletic Director, “Fuzz” Watts was credited with initiating a very successful high school wrestling program and a popular elementary grade school basketball program. Many players on the 1961 Class B Championship team began playing together in the 3rd and 4th Grades.

For the thousands of students whose lives he touched, “Coach Watts” was a master at motivation. He left CHS in 1965 and worked as a construction boss for several projects and was also Superintendent of Buildings & Grounds at CSC.

Watts died of natural causes on June 18, 1984. He was just 55 years old. Shortly after his death, veteran writer Con Marshall penned this poignant piece about Gordon “Fuzz” Watts for the Chadron Record.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Remembering teachers past

MARGO MEANS McCAWLEY was among the most respected teachers over the years at Chadron High School and Chadron State College.

She was born in Hemingford in 1907, the only child of Fred and Alice Melick. Her father was reportedly the first postmaster of Hemingford. According to the book Hemingford 1886-1985, compiled by Edna Clark, Melick had served as postmaster of Carlyle, which was just east of present day Hemingford. In December 1885, he made application to change the name of the post office location from Carlyle to Hemingford. It was approved, and he became the first postmaster of the new community of Hemingford.

Young Marguerite was reportedly active in a local chapter of Camp Fire Girls and excelled in the classroom, receiving her high school diploma when she was just 15.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska, she worked for about a decade in private business and government before taking a teaching job at Neligh High School for nine years. She came to Chadron in 1957, teaching a variety of “commercial” classes at Chadron High in the basement of what is now the Chadron Middle School. “Mrs. Means” served as sponsor to several groups, including Pep Club and the Cardinal Yearbook Staff.

In 1961, she moved across town to the Nebraska State Teacher’s College and taught business courses for 11 years. She married the college Business Manger Paul McCawley in 1964. Much as she had done at Chadron High, Mrs. McCawley became a favorite with students and staff alike. In 1971, she was named Nebraska Business Teacher of the Year; the following year she was elected to the Chadron Board of Education by what her obituary described as “a landslide.”

Margo and Paul McCawley traveled extensively during their years together. Alas, she also was to wage a lengthy battle against leukemia. She retired from Chadron State College in 1972. Good friend Con Marshall, who has chronicled so much history of Chadron State College and the community, wrote about Margo in 1972 that she was “…an accomplished musician, although she no longer gives lessons and says she now plays only for her own ‘amazement,’ once held a pilot’s license, can read 10 languages, was twice named one of the most popular speakers at Nebraska Girls State, was the first master’s degree recipient at Chadron State to receive all A’s, and has waged a successful battle with leukemia for the past eight years.”

When students from Chadron High School classes of 1958 and 1959 congregated for a reunion last year, no teacher was mentioned more often – or with greater admiration and fondness – than Margo Means McCawley. And as 1960 and 1961 graduates from CHS prepare for their reunion this summer, it seems clear from comments sent to us that Margo was a perennial favorite of students from across the years.

Margo McCawley died in December 1977 in Chadron following a lengthy illness. She was 70 years old.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Remembering teachers past

JAMES A. MYERS was born in Casper, Wyoming, in 1906, but he was raised and spent his entire professional education career in Chadron – serving the Chadron Public Schools for 44 years.

The son of a railroader, Myers grew up at 635 King Street in a house built by his father. That was his address for more than 50 years.

Young Jim went through elementary and secondary school in Chadron, then enrolled at the Chadron Normal College, where he earned his degree in 1928. He signed on as a math teacher at Chadron High School, a job he held for 21 years. For some of those years, he also did double duty as an Assistant Principal. That was followed by some 23 years as CHS Principal – from 1949 to 1972, when he retired.

During those years at Chadron High School, many students knew the Home Ec teacher…..others knew the coaches……others were well-acquainted with the shop teacher. But EVERYONE knew the Principal, Mr. Myers. In those years, it was hard to see him as a fiercely dedicated educator committed to quality education, which he was. He was deeply respected (some might say feared). It took several years for some of us to warm up to this quiet and gentle man who was an effective teacher and administrator.

Myer’s wife, Nellie, taught elementary grades for many years; she passed away in 1969.

Myers was feted at a banquet at the end of the 1972 school year. More than 200 people gathered at the Middle School gym for the “Jim Myers Day” event. Former students and colleagues joined in the celebration, including long-time Superintendent of School H. A. Schroeder.

Former students paying tribute to Myeres included Harold Clark from the class of 1929; Gordon Larson from the class of 1934; Ozzie Ostrander, class of 1947; Mick Megown, class of 1958; Neil Daniels from the class of 1962; Bob Roos, class of 1969; and Jan Baumann from the class of 1972.

While Myers was presented with an engraved wrist watch in honor of his retirement, he made it clear that it’s the good memories he’s taking away that will be most cherished.

I remembered having looked back at some of the yearbooks in my office, and the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the multitude of fine memories that I’ll be taking with me,” said Myers.

Myers moved to Vancouver, Washington in 1972 to be near his son, Ralph, and family. Dr. Ralph Myers was a research chemist for Crown-Zellerbach paper products.
Jim Myers died in 1990

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Remembering teachers past

As Chadron celebrates its 125th anniversary this summer, there’ll be an abundance of school reunions. It'll be an opportunity to rekindle many memories -- including those of teachers at Chadron's three high schools through much of the 20th century. If you have photos or information about teachers of this era, please E-Mail us. Thanks!

ELAINE STOLLER taught Home Economics and Girls Physical Education in the 1950’s and early 1960’s at Chadron High School.

Since leaving Chadron in 1964, she and husband Ron have lived in Lincoln, Nebraska; Tucson, Arizona; and Columbia, Missouri. They also did a stint in Colombia, South America, where her husband took a two-year assignment with the University of Nebraska. Many folks may well remember Elaine’s husband, Ron, who served several years as the Dawes County Extension agent. We recall crossing paths with him at KCSR Radio, when he would come in to record a weekly radio program.

The Stollers have two daughters – both born in Chadron. Daughter Carol is a nurse and works in Health Administration with Kaiser in Los Angeles; Diane is a general surgeon at Abbott Hospital in Minneapolis. They have five grandchildren.

Recalling her teaching years in Chadron, Mrs. Stoller remembers one incident very vividly. It seems the Phys Ed class was outside playing and
all at once…they put down their equipment and walked off the field to the locker room. I had no idea what was wrong, so I quickly followed them and to my surprise, they had planned a baby shower for me in the locker room. I was pregnant the last semester, and the first pregnant teacher to teach at the high school. Times have changed!”

Then there was the time that the varsity basketball players – just boys back in those days! – taught and coached the girls basketball classes. "As I look back on my years of teaching at Chadron High and remember the wonderful students and experiences, I always thought the students at Chadron could be better disciplined -- but learned after teaching in many other schools that those Chadron students were almost perfect compared to most other places!"

Mrs. Stoller recently spent six months in the hospital, a rehab-center and nursing home following a fractured femur and knee replacement. We’re happy to report, however, that she’s back home now! The Stollers are at home in Las Vegas, Nevada.