Willie Mae and Aubrey Driscoll are renowned Devine benefactors. Willie Mae Gordon was born on April 7, 1906, in Johnson County, TX, to Beebe and May Gordon. She graduated from Cleburne High School in 1924 then received her elementary school teaching certificate in 1925 from Sam Houston State Teachers College in Huntsville, TX. Willie Mae began her teaching career in Bedias, where she was living with her mother. In 1930, she took a teaching position in Devine and soon joined the Methodist Church there. Meanwhile, Aubrey Earl, born on February 12, 1911, on the farm originally settled by the Driscoll family around 1890, had graduated from Devine in 1929 and was attending Baylor University. The couple met upon his return to Devine and “courted” for several years before marrying in June of 1935.
The Driscoll family had primarily been farmers, but, seeing the need to diversify in the uncertain times of the 30s, Aubrey opened the Driscoll Lumber Company with his father, Will, and a brother, Burney, in 1936. He also worked at Kelly Field during the war, and he continued to ranch and farm with his father. Meanwhile, Willie Mae taught school in Devine until taking a leave of absence to have a family and help in the lumber company.
In the mid 1950s, Willie Mae returned to teaching when there arose an urgent need for teachers. She enrolled in college classes to renew her credentials, attending night and weekend classes, and received her diploma from Our Lady of the Lake. Willie Mae taught first grade for several generations, retiring in 1975, then returning for a time to begin a special language learning disability program which the state was offering to school districts. “Her skill at teaching reading and her imaginative teaching methods, such as setting up a post office in her classroom, made her a greatly loved teacher in Devine.” (Devine News, 2002) Upon her retirement, Willie Mae began working again with Aubrey at The Driscoll Lumber Company.
The Driscoll’s had two daughters, Linda Kay and Barbara Nell. Linda Kay graduated from SMU in 1961, and Barbara Nell graduated from UT in 1968. In support of their children, Aubrey and Willie Mae traveled to all the places where their daughters and families lived including Boston, Denver, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Houston as well as Norway and Switzerland.
Linda Kay and her husband, Vic Baldridge, have two sons, David and Don. David and his wife, Dee have two sons – Nick and Sam; Don and his wife, Jennifer, have sons – Logan and Tyler – and one daughter – Sydney. Barbara Nell and her husband, Roger Schmenner, have two sons – Will and his wife, Lucia, have two daughters – Josie and Willie Mae; Drew and wife, Jennifer, have a daughter – Riley.
The Driscoll girls proudly recall their parents’ participating in and supporting all of their activities during their school years in Devine. The Driscoll’s four grandsons enjoyed summer visits to Devine to play and help at the lumber yard and on the farms.
Aubrey and Willie Mae spent over 65 years contributing to the community. Aubrey was active in Devine’s First Baptist Church where he served as a deacon and usher and on various committees. In 1965, he was named Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year. Willie Mae participated in the Garden Club, Current Events Club, Business and Professional Women’s Retired Teachers, Delta Kappa Gamma, Honorary Society for Teachers, State Library Board as Lay Representative, and various other local groups such as the Devine Chapter of American Cancer Society. Willie Mae taught Sunday School at Devine’s Methodist Church and later was leader of Methodist Youth Fellowship. She also served on the Board of Stewards and chaired the building committee for the new church sanctuary, and she served as a youth leader for many civic activities. Together, Aubrey and Willie Mae participated in parades, drives, and cancer crusades and they supported Devine in many endeavors.
The Driscoll Lumber Company remained in operation for 50 years, and, upon its closing in 1986, Aubrey returned to ranching full time, while Willie Mae continued to participate in local church and club activities, one of which was Devine’s library. The Devine Public Library had always been near and dear to the hearts of the Driscoll family, particularly Willie Mae Driscoll, who served on the board and as lay representative for many years. She was active in establishing and operating the library with an all-volunteer staff and from private citizen contributions only. With active support from her husband and brother-in-law, Burney, she energetically supported and encouraged the development and growth of the public library in Devine forty years. (Devine News, 1990)
So, in 1985, spurred by the Texas sesquicentennial celebration, the Driscoll family donated the historic Driscoll Lumber Company warehouse – which was the original mercantile firm built by the Adams Company around 1910 – to the city to be used as a library and community center. In 1990, Aubrey, Willie Mae, and Burney were presented the Texas 1990 Benefactors Award by the Texas Library Association. Today, the Driscoll Public Library stands as a fitting symbol of Willie Mae’s passion for reading and public service.