Rebecca Saathoff Monroe continues to serve in new roles

Rebecca and Danny at Rebecca’s Promotion to Major at the Alamo. Photography by Erika Michelle Photography (On Instagram @erikamichelle_photography)

As told by Major Rebecca Saathoff Monroe
Rebecca Saathoff Monroe is a 2010 graduate of Devine High School. Growing up, her father, Maj (ret.) Gary Saathoff, served as a C-5 pilot in the Air Force Reserves. In addition, Rebecca’s family has a long history of military service, with generations of service members in her ancestry, to include both her grandfathers, Arthur Ehlinger and Hugo Saathoff. It instilled in her a deep appreciation for service, and the military. After graduating from Texas State University in 2013 and the University of Texas School of Law in 2016, Rebecca earned her law license and joined the…


Memories from Mrs. Linda McAnelly:

When Kathleene asked me to share my DISD recollections, I wasn’t sure that there was much that I would recall from those early years. However, I did know that relationships with the DISD staff and my students are and were my most important memories. Relationships with students, staff, and parents are the greatest and lasting reward of the “call to teaching”.

Mrs. McAnelly served 8 years as the Devine ISD Superintendent.

My career began at Devine Junior High School in 1977 with staff members: Linda Stanton, Richard Malone, Louis Stroud, Bill Herring, Kathleen Outlaw, and Cynthia Strait along with many others. It was an interesting start to my career because no one knew on which campus I would work. There wasn’t a room for me at Devine Junior High (now DMS), so Principal Gordon Bryan sent me to the elementary school.
I met with John Ciavarra, the elementary principal, who also had no job for me on his campus and sent me back to Devine Junior High. I was quite frustrated for several days about my “job” and no classroom. I resorted to a visit to Mr. Barnhart, superintendent, to determine if I had a job or not as I had signed a contract. Mr. Barnhart told me to report back to Devine Junior High for a new position called Title 1 Reading for which no one had information. I received a notebook of Title 1 information to read and follow as I set up the new Title 1 Reading program for grades 6-8. Mr. Barnhart told me to follow the Title 1 Reading program guidelines in the notebook and identify which students in grades 6-8 qualified for the program. I was sort of on my own with this new Title 1 program.
Imagine my frustration as I returned yet again to the junior high, and Principal Bryan told me to find my own space to teach reading. Thankfully, I met Mrs. Alta Chant, a kind, knowledgeable, and highly efficient paraprofessional, who assisted me in locating a space to teach. With Mrs. Chant’s help, we moved the teachers’ mimeograph (copier) machine into the smokers’ lounge and set up a classroom in the teachers’ workroom, locating and moving desks on our own. After a few days, Mrs. Chant and I had a classroom with desks, developed my student roster, and created my own schedule. Without Mrs. Chant’s help, I am unsure how long I would have waited for a room, the desks, and students. I worked at Devine Junior High for only one year, and I was forced to seek a job in Hondo ISD for the next five years; DISD didn’t accept transfer students, and our older son was entering first grade.
Finally, I returned to Devine ISD in 1982 when Superintendent Byron Steele hired me to teach G/T grades 1-8 and several English classes for grades 7-8; board policy now allowed student transfers and our two sons became Warhorses to my delight! I enjoyed setting up the Devine G/T program with Mary Conrad, and I had wonderful support from parents for many interesting projects! Beth Ann Noak helped me with many projects including a Christmas gingerbread project that would make Bobby Flay proud, and Joyce Bendele added her “artistic” talent to my limited art skill set! For two years, I had great support from many people for the G/T program; however, I knew that I was a secondary person and was better suited at grades 9-12.
By 1984, Bob Bendele was DHS Principal, and I approached him about teaching English or speech. I offered to take any job that he had as I wanted to work for him at DHS. Bob had five different English classes with one each of grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 along with a CVAE English as the fifth class. Also, if I took this position, I would not have my own classroom (here I go again without a room) and would share five other teachers’ classrooms during their conference periods. The difference on Bob’s campus was he offered the solution to my room problem. Bob reminded me that I would move every hour (five times each day), and I would have five different grammar books and five different literature books. I was thrilled to be on a high school campus; I took the job regardless of not having my own room.
In typical Mr. Bendele style, he took care of “his people”. Bob provided me a two-drawer rolling file cabinet which he happily delivered to me before classes began; I was in business as the itinerant English teacher. With five different preps, I was often at school late in the evening; unfortunately, my room light was visible from highway 173 as Mr. Bendele drove by DHS. One evening about 7:30 PM, there was a rapid knock on my door. It was Mr. Bendele, who asked what I was doing on campus alone so late; I told him that I had five different six-weeks tests to prepare and print for my students. Bob told me to go home now, and to ensure my departure he escorted me outside to my vehicle. His parting words were that I needed to be home with my children, and he didn’t want to see me there alone late at night again! After that, I took all my work home for fear that I might get another visit from Mr. Bendele and another escorted walk to my car! How Bob cared about us all-students and staff!
I taught a variety of classes for several years but never had five preparations except those first two years. Eventually, I was moved to the English IV teacher in 1989-90 school year, and I loved that job. I had wonderful students, and I worked them hard to prepare for college English. In summer of 1993, I was trained at the Advanced Placement Institute at Texas A & M, which allowed me to add AP English to options for DHS seniors. Our first year, I had about 15 students take AP English and then sit for the AP exam; these students scored 4 or 5 (with only one 3) on the AP exam! DHS students proved themselves on the national level with those AP scores, which gave them college credit; I was so proud of these students in the first year of AP English. I continued AP English only two years. We learned some universities wouldn’t accept AP English except as an elective. Dual-credit English was a guaranteed English college credit course; therefore, I began work on a master’s degree in English so I could teach dual-credit English. This extra degree work required nightly drives each week to UTSA after teaching all day (no virtual classes in the 1990s or early 2000s); the highlight of my M.A. English work was my summer study abroad at Oxford University in England. I was able to bring dual-credit English to DHS and the wonderful students met the challenge and excelled! I loved the classroom, the students, and the content! The classroom was always a joy for me despite the long hours of grading compositions and research papers, and I believe that God called me to my teaching career and into education.
Teaching was not all that I loved at DHS; Mr. Bendele praised our students and celebrated our staff for successes! UIL Academics became a huge focus with Mr. Bendele’s leadership and with Mrs. Gardner as UIL Director. I loved working with Brenda on UIL Academic events for 18 years; we rode countless miles on unairconditioned buses and spent many Saturdays at UIL tournaments from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM. We usually traveled about 12-15 Saturdays each year to UIL tournaments; all that practice paid dividends as our students excelled in their events, winning district year after year! DHS students were winners at district, regional, and state competitions. I call these years the “golden years”, and it was grand to take my UIL Poetry and Lit Crit teams to these competitions. A number of poetry readers made appearances at state UIL, but only one of my students, Edie Bramhall, placed at state. A state UIL appearance allowed students to apply for a UIL scholarship for college whether they placed at state or not. There are so many wonderful memories of these poetry readers-mostly girls-including two whom we’ve lost: Rachel Ramirez and Kim Hamilton. Both were in many UIL events, and both were very successful. Brenda and I both coached them in different UIL events, and they were extremely talented young women!
UIL was not the only thrill of working at DHS. In the mid-1990s, Marion Randow, Joyce Bendele and I began to take DHS girls and some of their mothers to England on summer tours. These trips allowed me to share my love of all things British and help prepare these girls for English IV the next year. These trips were a great adventure for girls and adults alike. The teenage girls tolerated being lectured to about British literature/history from me, art from Mrs. Bendele, and drama from Mrs. Randow. These trips were a wonderful experience for the girls and the adults. These are still great memories for me to this day as I hope we enriched these young ladies’ lives with these trips.
In 1998, Bob retired, and I was heartbroken to lose his leadership at DHS. I considered leaving DHS and applied for jobs in the area as well as in San Antonio districts. I had very favorable interviews at Northside with two different directors; I attribute my successful interviews to being from Devine. Both directors knew Louis Stroud from officiating; I will never know if I interviewed well, or if knowing Louis got me the job offer. Both directors recommended me for the position, and I was offered a final interview for a Reading Coordinator. I didn’t take the position even though I knew that I’d make more money in Northside ISD, but my commute would be over two hours per day. The money wasn’t worth my leaving all the Devine friends who cared for us throughout our careers in DISD. I remained at DHS in English IV, and then I had a call from Devine Central Office.
Superintendent Jim Davis offered me some administrative work while I remained the English IV teacher. I served as the DISD District Testing Coordinator for the state testing (TAKS at that time) grades 3-8 and high school EOC tests; and I also coordinated all dual-credit courses during my last two years at DHS. Then Mr. Davis offered me the curriculum director position, which I accepted. It was very difficult to leave DHS; I knew that I’d miss my DHS family and my students! However, I truly felt that I could contribute in the area of curriculum, so I started a new chapter in my educational career.
At central office, I was blessed to work with Jim Davis, Dora Fernandez, Marie Talamantes, Debbie McCormick, Mamie Navarro, and Pat Brown in those early days, and I knew all of them well. I had been blessed to teach at least one child or more of every central office person! Three other great ladies, Glenda Allen, Elaine Hoog, and Kelly DuBose, joined the central office team a year or so later after I moved into CO. It was a great group of caring people! The quality people in DISD have been the key to years of student and district success through many changes and new requirements.
There have always been mandates and programs with which Texas school districts are to comply, but no matter the challenge in DISD, people stepped up and helped solve the issue! The DISD staff has always been wonderful and so supportive through the many challenges we faced in curriculum, finances, testing, or each new mandate. I loved working with the DISD staff to solve problems, which they always faced with optimism and hard work. I don’t believe that there are better people than those in Devine ISD and the Devine community. To serve the students and people in Devine is a great reward in itself, but little did I know the new service area that awaited me.
In February 2008, I received a call from Board President Cindy Morales to consider serving as interim superintendent. At that time, I was the assistant superintendent and quite satisfied with my position in a back office. I was unsure that I wanted the front office with the superintendent’s stress and knew that position would require longer hours with many difficult issues to resolve. I agreed to the interim position temporarily with the caveat that I could return to my assistant superintendent’s position if either the board or I wanted to terminate the agreement. I continued with my duties as assistant as well as assuming the duties of the interim superintendent from February until August.
In August 2008, I began a new challenging chapter in my career as I agreed to take the superintendent’s job. The Devine Board of Trustees, the DISD staff, and Devine community all contributed to making those rewarding years for the district and for me. My first board was comprised of a great group of people all of whom were either DHS graduates or a parent of a DHS graduate; this led to a greatly invested group of people, focused on students not politics. My first board consisted of: President Cindy Morales, Vice-President Wayde Anderson, Secretary Nancy Pepper, Trustee Carl Brown, Trustee Dwayne Gardner, Trustee Eva Marquis, and Trustee Henry Moreno. Other board members who followed included: Rhonda Korczynski, Paula Samudio, Robert Morales, Gina Champion, and Wes Herring. With these dedicated board of trustees, the Devine community members passed two bond elections in four years, providing funds to renovate every campus, add the new DMS west wing, and build the DSAC complex.
Despite some very difficult financial years and the many challenges that a school superintendent faces each year, my eight years as DISD Superintendent were a wonderful time in my life. My greatest hope is that I treated all people fairly and kindly, that DISD made some lasting improvements, and that student achievement improved. Thank you, Devine, for being a wonderful community in which to live and work; I was so blessed to have a career serving in Devine ISD!

Mr. Mac’s Years at Devine HS

“Mr. Mac, you are the smartest person I know. What in the world are you doing teaching school?” Given his age and background, it may very well have been that he was correct, though I doubt it.
The question came from a young man while we were working in the shop on some project that had him bumfuzzeled. By asking him a series of questions, I had led him to deciphering what the problem actually was and showed him that he really already knew the answer. He just was not asking the right questions.
“I responded ‘JT (not his real name), I learned a long time ago that the secret to being happy is to find out what God wants you to do- and do it.’
“I had already been teaching Ag in Devine about twenty-five years at that time, and loved every minute of it. Well almost every minute.
“I never intended to become a teacher, that was God’s idea, and looking back on it I should have known, because He had been preparing me for it my entire life. Actually longer than that in Devine. My Great Grandfather, Pleasant Earnest McAnelly was the President of the Devine School Board when the old Green Alamo, (present day VFW) was built. His son, my grandfather Gladden, was the Valedictorian of Devine High School in 1903. Two of his brothers taught Manual Training, an early version of Vocational Agriculture, in the downstairs portion of the school. His daughter, Dora Mae McAnelly, was one of the first Home Making teachers in Devine, and taught in the small rock building by the funeral home that is currently a business office for DISD. Both of my parents were teachers as well. My dad, John E. McAnelly was the Ag teacher in Hondo for decades, and my Mother, Elizabeth taught reading and eventually started the Special Education program for Hondo ISD. In addition, I had a younger brother, nine years my junior, that I taught everything from fishing to working cattle to coaching his Little League teams, and being the boy’s sponsor at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment until I graduated from A&M. He was, and still is, my little boy.

Many locals have fond memories of thier old Ag Teacher, Phil McAnelly, who taught at Devine High School from 1974 to 2003. He is pictured above with Phil his Livestock judging team in 1996, (l to r) Matt Lyles, Tanessa Sathoff, Lacy Hummel, Lane Roberson.

Still, I never even considered being a teacher until one night in northern Germany God called me to work with boys. Even before then, in Germany, in the Army, I was tagged by my commanding officers to work with the Canadian Air Force’s little boys to be their Little League coach. They knew how to play hockey very well, but at that time baseball was an American game, and most had never even played before – and I was supposed to be the “Canadian All Stars” Little League coach. Luckily, many of them were excellent athletes and caught on very quickly. The Canadians supported us very well, providing a bus and driver to take us all over free Europe, a seemingly unlimited budget, and a nice young couple to travel with us on overnight trips. We started with learning how to bunt- and ended up one game out of the European World Series.
Within days of God’s call, while still in the Army in Germany where I was serving as the Commander of a Nike Hercules missile site- the first line of defense against Russia’s threatened air attack during the “Cold War”, I received a phone call from my former high school football coach, asking me to come to Tahoka, Texas to coach football.
At that time, Linda, my beautiful wife, later a teacher at Devine ISD for years, eventually ending up as Superintendent, was a young thing. We had our first little boy, Lance, but she had to cut short her education at Texas Tech to accompany me to Germany in 1970. It just so happened that Tahoka is only thirty miles south of Lubbock, home of Texas Tech. She would be able to finish her education while I was coaching. Lucky – or divine providence? “Find out what God wants you to do-and do it!” We did, and God blessed our efforts with wonderful kids and athletes and parents. In two years we sent eight boys to play college ball, with two of them going on into the pros. This from a little school of less than an hundred and fifty in high school who had not had a winning season in over thirty years.
After Linda finished up at Tech, we taught together for a year in Tahoka, where we both also taught Sunday School at the Baptist church there. We started looking for a way to get back down here to God’s Country so I could enter my lifelong dream of ranching. But once again- God had different plans. I got an offer to come to Devine as a football coach by Paul Jette – “I want you to work with boys”. We accepted the offer, Linda had a job as well, but later she found out that we were pregnant, so put her career on hold for a while longer. We started building our house on land that had been in the family since 1883, where there had never been anyone living. “Little House on the Prairie” comes to mind. Character building but not very enjoyable at the time – especially for Linda, who was by now very pregnant with another McAnelly boy.
One day – right after we got down here – Mr. Henry Moss – famous Ag teacher in Devine for over forty years drove up. “Phil” he said, ”do you really want to coach football and worry every year if you are playing the right boys to keep your job, or would you rather teach Ag and stay here for the rest of your career?” My degree was in Ag Education-not because I ever wanted to teach, but because that course of study best prepared me for my chosen career of being a rancher. I had done my student teaching in Brownwood, and thoroughly enjoyed it. My path for the next twenty eight years was set – Ag teacher in Devine High School.
Our Ag department consisted of Henry Moss, Bob Spacek, and me. Between the three of us we had about half the boys in school in 1974. Some of my early students were Sherriff Randy Brown, Herby Watson, Pete Morales, Jeff Howard, Daniel Jay, John and Tom Oppelt, Robert Schott, Howard Goslin, Donald Bohl, Robert Hernandez, Doug Whitaker, Byron McAllister, at least one Ehlinger, and many others. The lone female was Cynthia Whitaker, now Sultenfuss, who was a senior in with a whole class of freshman boys. She was my Sargent of Arms as it were, as all the young boys were the same age as her brother Doug, and all were afraid of her. She was one of the first girls to break the gender barrier in the FFA, before then, only the “FFA Sweetheart” could be a member of what was originally an all-male club.
After a couple of years, Mr. Ronnie Outlaw came over and joined our team as Bob Spacek had taken a job down at the electrical generation plant south of Jourdanton. Ronnie and I taught together for nearly thirty years, with never a cross word between us. After Mr. Moss retired, I stole Travis Byrom from Natalia to join our team. Our Ag program got stronger and larger each year as we started to figure out how to get more and more students really involved in the FFA.
Ag teaching was great back then, as local farmers would call us and ask us to come out to help them with some needed task-such as castrating calves or pigs. I called these “targets of opportunity” as they afforded real learning situations. We would load the boys (and later girls) up in the back of our pickup trucks – appoint a time keeper so we would get back in time – and head out.
One of the interesting things about those first years, nearly every boy had direct ties to the land. Some lived on a farm or ranch, others dads grew up on a farm, or their grandfather was a farmer/rancher. The experiential base of knowledge about all things agriculture was much higher then than it was in the years to follow, as new generations moved away from agriculture. By 2003, only a few students had firsthand knowledge, but many learned to love it anyway.
One of the most memorable trips was on a field trip to Jeff Howard’s farm. He came in one morning and said, “Mr. Mc, we had a baby calf last night and it has a hole in its stomach. Every time it nurses, it runs out of its stomach”. “Is it white?” I asked. “No – it’s clear” he answered. “Well, he is just peeing as he nurses” I surmised. “No” he protested, “it’s a girl”. Field trip. We got out there, looked at the calf, and sure enough, it was a girl. Then we continued to look for the hole, and guess what – it was a boy too! They had a hermaphrodite – very rare – only one I have ever seen. Later the same year, Hartly Howard, a longtime local rancher, brought in a calf with two heads. Easy to teach about genetics and inbreeding and why you don’t marry your cousin when you are looking at that third eye staring at you.
As the years went by it was no longer acceptable to leave the school with your class, and the classes were too large. So, in order for the students to have the hands on learning opportunity, we built a set of cattle pens that could be set up in the Ag shop parking lot. I would bring in a load of calves from the ranch and every student had the opportunity to give vaccinations, three ways to castrate, dehorn and brand. We also set up pens inside and outside in the parking lot to weigh, wash and clip hogs headed to the stock shows in Hondo and San Antonio. Many interesting stories about hogs, sheep and chickens.
I have told for years about the people in Devine-good people. People who care for each other, who take care of each other. Parental involvement is the key to any successful school program, and we were blessed with wonderful parents. Anytime we needed sponsors to go with us to State Conventions, contest, or even stock shows, we always had parents ready to ride the bus-at that time non air conditioned, or haul a trailer load of animals to the stock shows.
Linda, my wife of fifty three years, started teaching in Devine in 1976, and we taught together until I retired in 2003. At that point, she had moved into Central Office, but before then it was great being on the same campus, working on prom together with so many wonderful and talented teachers, teaching our kids and the kids of other teachers and our friends. In our heyday Bob Bendele was our Principal, and his love and passion for Devine was contagious to faculty and student alike.
We started taking fishing trips at the end of the year in 1982 as a way of encouraging FFA members to become more involved in more activities during the year. It worked! Nearly half the students in DHS were in the FFA. We set up a calendar of all the things we would be doing during the year, such as different contests, stock shows, District, Area, and State conventions, service opportunities, fund raising, attendance at meetings, etc., assigning each a point value. Then we would figure a minimum number of points that a student had to have to be eligible to go on the fishing trip. The response was phenomenal!
At first we had a three day fishing trip for the boys, and a day at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels for the girls. That lasted a couple of years until the girls figured out that they were getting the short end of the stick and started yelling about women’s rights. By now, Travis Byrom had retired, and one of our own, Todd Herring, had replaced him as the third Ag teacher. Ronnie, Todd, and I put our heads together and told the girls that if they could get enough mothers to go with us – and I mean one for every four girls, that we would take them too. We would have a very strict set of rules of what and what would not be done, worn, and a schedule where everyone did their share in preparing the meals and cleaning up afterward. What a blast! We started taking a four day, three night fishing trip to Lake Buchanan, with dads, moms and more boats than we could use. We literally taught 100’s of kids to ski. A few actually fished. We even had parents that continued to go as sponsors after their kids were out of school. Never heard of anything like this before or since. The relationships developed through the years, and the trust that they engendered were the envy of schools all over the state.
One of the fun things for us teachers was to go to the Gov’t Surplus center in San Antonio. You never knew what was going to be there, but there was always something that we could use in our teaching or in the Ag Shop. In about 1990 they had a bunch of pontoon bridge floats – boat shaped, extremely deep sides, very heavy aluminum. The instant we saw them we thought-AG BOAT. We bought one for about $50.00 and hauled it back to school on our ag trailer that we had also built. For the next six months, students learned how to weld aluminum, fabricate parts for the console, build and strengthen the transom to hold an outboard motor. We also found an old Chrysler outboard motor, and that gave a bunch more students the opportunity to learn about two-cycle engines. When we got the whole thing finished, it would hold about twenty kids, and would draw only about two inches of water. It would not go fast enough to ski behind, but it was good for pulling tubes, and made a great fishing boat. But was it ugly.
When I first started in Devine, we would take to the State Convention only the FFA members who were to receive their Lone Star Farmer degree – the highest degree given by the state. Sometimes there would be one or two, but seldom more than four. We decided that if we were ever going to really motivate our younger students to excel in the FFA, especially in the area of leadership that they needed to experience as many State Conventions as possible. So we started hauling freshman (Greenhands) on up. Especially after we started the Fishing Trip, participation at the convention really took off. Each year it would be held at a different place, Corpus, then Houston, then Amarillo, then San Antonio, then Lubbock, then Dallas or Ft. Worth. It was normal for us to have thirty members, four mothers, and all the teachers on one big yellow school bus, heading out across Texas. To help make the trip more interesting, I started bringing a copy of “Why Stop Texas”, a book that has every historical marker in the state of Texas in it. Before we left Devine, I would assign each student a marker that we would be passing on the way, and they would have to come to the front of the bus and tell everyone about it. There was always a lot of groaning, but they enjoyed it. On more than one occasion the book would disappear only to make a miraculous reappearance after a certain person’s marker had passed. To this day, I have former students recall with fondness the history lessons on Texas that they learned on those trips. Every trip was started with a prayer, and we never had anything unfortunate happen.
After Todd Herring fell in love with Vanessa Runnels Parkey’s sister- in- law, he decided being married and moving up to north Texas was his future. So we began searching for a new, female, Ag teacher. We had so many wonderful young ladies in the FFA, Ronnie and I felt that we needed a female teacher that could help us reach the next level in developing them into what we knew they could be. I had come to know a wonderful young lady, Karen Harris, who was teaching up in Comfort. We were visiting at the FFA scholarship interviews in San Marcos when all of a sudden, it became clear to me that this is who God wanted for the first female Ag teacher in Devine. “You are a Christian, aren’t you?” I asked. “Yes” she answered, “and you are too.” After only a few minutes a bond developed that was second only to my bond with my wife. We called it our mutual admiration connection. With her on board, our program reached another level again as she was such a wonderful role model and encourager for so many of our girls. Her love and understanding of all things girl, spurred even the most timid to set and achieve goals they had only dreamed of. Those years with Ronnie and Karen and all the great kids and parents were probably the most satisfying of my career. Unfortunately for us, she became a stay-at-home mom, but she still stays in touch with many of her former students.
There are very few professions one can go into that afford the opportunity to affect so many lives for generations to come. To be able to get up each day, look into the mirror and say “Today someone will have a better life because of me.” What a gift. To say that I loved my students and being able to teach them and watch them develop into confident and competent young men and ladies would be an understatement. We did not make much money, but the rewards more than made up for the shortfall. The old saying that “if you love what you are doing, you will never have to work a day in your life” is very true. Life is too short to do something you do not love and cannot be passionate about.
I was very blessed to be able to teach my own boys, to watch them grow as young men, to watch them and their friends as they matured into the fine men they are today – and to know that I had a big part in making that happen, not only for my boys, but for hundreds of others.
One of the greatest pleasures was to be able to teach the children of my students, I called them my FFA grandchildren. One of the benefits of staying in one place for so many years is that you achieve generational trust. I cherished it then, and I do now even more. I work with the little boys in RAs at our church, and I taught some of their fathers and grandfathers. While I was still teaching I missed my third generation by only two years.
When we came to Devine, there were very few of our students who went to Texas A&M. It was not that they were not smart enough; there was just no one besides a parent or friend to help them see the possibility. In the late 70s, A&M started what they called “Career Day” where a prospective student could come up, visit the exhibits displayed by their chosen college, then attend an A&M football game to experience what Aggieland was all about. I started taking a small group of our FFA members so they could see firsthand what college was all about and to help them be comfortable with the idea of going to such a prestigious university. Each year we would have a few more, then we were joined by the “Computer Club’ with Sandy Miller. It got more and more popular until one year we had three busloads of kids. We would leave Devine about 4:00 a.m. and get there about 8:30. We would spend the day visiting different colleges, eating lunch at Duncan Dining Hall, eating with the Corps of Cadets, then being on the “quad” as the outfits “fell out” and formed up into formation to march into Kyle Field behind the Aggie band. I would lead our students to the front of the MSC building where the road was divided, and we could stand in the middle and have the band pass on both sides of us, playing all those great marching songs the Aggie Band is so known for. If your hair did not stand up you had to be a T-sip. Then it was into Kyle Field for the football game. We could get tickets in the end zone for five dollars. We would roll back into the parking lot about 2:00 am. Tired but happy.
It worked. We started seeing more and more of our students going to A&M, and now the next generation of those students are going there. Whole families of many who had never had anyone graduate from any college before. You can make a difference!
There are so many success stories of our students. Dreams fulfilled, hard work rewarded, lives changed for generations to come. We were blessed to have many great leadership teams – and to watch as they became leaders in their own chosen occupations using the skills developed in our classes. Many state and National Award winners bringing to fruition years of planning and working. Judging teams leading to scholarships leading to industry leaders and college teaching positions. We were blessed to have only the second female State FFA President, Tanessa Saathoff, who came into my class the first day as a freshman declaring that she wanted to be State FFA President. We set out a path, a plan for growth in all the areas she would need to be able to achieve that dream – and four years later – she did. And, by the way, she is now the head Ag Teacher in Boerne.
I have former students in the military, law enforcement, doctors, biomedical engineers, computer engineers, architects, welders, mechanics, business owners, mechanical engineers, insurance salesmen, feedlot owners, ranchers, farmers, coaches, mothers, ministers, musicians, lawyers – virtually every walk of life. I am proud of them all, and love to hear their success stories. But one of the things I am most proud of is the number of my students who followed me into the Ag Teaching field or the teaching field in general. At last count, there are well over twenty who have or are presently teaching Ag or other subjects. I am proud to know that I had the opportunity to guide their lives, and now my influence is being passed down to the next generation.
I have had many teachers ask me how I could stay in one school all those years. I always tell them. “It’s easy – treat every kid like he is your kid – and treat your kid like everyone else’s. Here in Devine we were very blessed to have many teachers who spent nearly their entire career here in Devine. They lived here, went to church here, rejoiced for the victories, cried for the tragedies, raised and taught their own children, and the children of all their friends. That is the beauty of small town Texas – I hope we don’t ever lose it.
One of the most poignant memories I have is of the FFA Convention in Amarillo. We had a wonderful young man named Clay Boyd – who was our FFA President. One of the evenings of the convention, we would take our members to see Palo Duro Canyon, let them hike a few hours and then go to see the musical “TEXAS” which is still performed there now. Clay and one of his friends ran all the way to the top of the highest peak in the canyon. Unfortunately, Clay was killed by a gun accident the night before our FFA Banquet at which he would have been leading. Five years later, we were back in Palo Duro Canyon – back on the same peak, where I had the opportunity to stand in the same spot Clay stood. This time holding and crying with his two younger sisters. I will never forget that. To say that there is a special bond that is formed between a passionate teacher and their students is an understatement.
When I retired it was common for people to say, “I bet you have seen a lot of changes in the kids in the last thirty years.” I always tell them, “No, teenagers have never wanted to be responsible for their own actions. And they still don’t. The difference is in the parents. When I started teaching, parents wanted all the help they could get to help their children learn to be responsible for their actions. Now it seems they do everything they can to keep them from being responsible.” They will learn; the question is at what cost, and how many ruined lives will be in the wake. God intended for us to be parents – not friends. If you will be a parent now, you can be friends the rest of your life.
As I surge on toward the end of what has been a most rewarding life – doing what God wants me to do – there are a few things I would like to pass on to anyone who will listen.
Without God – life is meaningless! Find out what God wants you to do – and do it!
Here is a truth that I have come to believe: Fear God – Serve Others – Accept Limits – Enjoy Life
It is not lost love that I regret, but rather the chance to love not taken.

Coach Gayle Sessions reminisces on her 34 years teaching/coaching in Devine

The sign is still in her yard as of 2023, Coach Sessions said. It is an old Devine street sign that players had borrowed and repainted. They had gone to state that year so each side was lettered with accomplishments. Cindy Hundley may have been one of the players who put it there in 1973, she adds.

An icon in Devine, we hope you enjoy this interview with Coach Gayle Sessions as she shares treasured memories of her 34 years teaching and coaching in Devine with Devine News columnist Kathleene Runnels . She talks of tales starting back in the 60’s when Devine schools “had no air-conditioned classrooms or gym, square dancing was a class, and there was still a designated smoking area for students at school.”
“In the fall of 1964, Carolyn Williams was hired as the Arabian Basketball Coach, and I came with her to coach at Devine Jr. High. Marvin Gustafson, legendary and Hall of Fame football coach, was the athletic director. Ralph Rice was superintendent and hired me over the phone. The junior high was in the “Green Alamo,” today’s VFW building.
It was a culture shock, coming from Tennessee with its green yards, gardens, and tall trees. I found out the hard way that you don’t go barefoot in the South Texas brown grass in 100+ degree weather! I could easily have packed up and gone back to Tennessee. Instead, it was 34 years later that I did return to take care of my aging parents. Why did I stay? It was the PLACE, the PEOPLE, the PROFESSION.
The PLACE, Devine, a small, rural, tight-knit community had a general store – Loggins and Lilly – with a motto “Everything from a rat skin to a ranch.” What more could you ask for? The school was known for its small town athletics and academic excellence. It had very few discipline issues and excellent community support. All South Texas knew how successful the football and basketball programs were under Coach Gus, and the girls’ basketball team had won the state championship two years earlier.
The PEOPLE were friendly, welcoming, and eager to help me adjust to different surroundings. My very first day at the junior high, Neva Muennick Saathoff, an 8th-grade athlete, offered to take me to the cafeteria, and on the way said, “Don’t worry; Devine doesn’t have knife fights in the school like they do in San Antonio.” Wow! That made me think!
Carolyn Williams met Mrs. Gene Ward, a high school teacher, who immediately invited us to her home to meet her daughter, Betty, a former Arabian who was on the 1961 basketball team that finished 3rd in State. We became great friends, and Betty, for many years, wrote all our basketball articles for the Devine News.
Imogene McAllister Tschirhart was a 7th grade athlete my first year, and I became friends with her parents, Alda Rose and Walter. We were often invited to eat with them on Thanksgiving or other special occasions. They became “my second family.” Walter was our summer league softball coach. He was tough and did not give us any slack. His favorite saying was “AGAIN,” and our first team was the DEVINE NUTS, and later, the ROADRUNNERS.
During those years, we had adults from Poteet and Jourdanton, mixed in with some talented younger Arabians. We won two State Softball Slow-pitch titles and qualified to Nationals. But, school was about to start, and we could not leave.
Imogene was the Tschirhart’s oldest daughter, and of course she played for me. Then she went into coaching at Medina Valley, and even beat me! So, I hired her to help coach the Devine Fillys. She stayed in Devine long after I retired and was responsible for much of the Arabians’ successes through her early indoctrination while they were in 7th and 8th grades.
Denise McAllister Boehme never had any other coach but me (poor girl) because she went to high school the same year that I went. She became a teacher, an elementary principal, and, last I heard, was still helping in the MVISD system.
Theresa, the baby McAllister, was born when Imogene was a 7th grader. When she was a youngster, she told her mother she was worried that if she played high school basketball, they might squash me in the huddle. She became a coach and just recently retired as Superintendent of Jourdanton ISD.
Some other former players that also became coaches were Diana Rohmer, Cindy Hundley, Marley Fewell, Debbie Shields, Samantha McClure, Sherry Head, Sandy Beck, Holly Graham (who went on to coach at several universities), Shana McGinnis, Terri Wells (DHS volleyball coach and recently retired as Girls Athletic Coordinator), and I only wish I could remember more.
In 1966 I met Don Sessions at an end-of-the-year basketball party. He was helping BBQ, imagine that! We married in 1967, and since he was a Texan, Devine definitely was now home.
My PROFESSION was teaching. In the late 60s, there were no air-conditioned classrooms or gyms. I taught tumbling and square dance in the “should-have-been-condemned” basement in the Green Alamo. Women teachers were required to wear dresses to school and to games. There was even a designated smoking area for students. The buses were governed and could only go 55 mph. Volleyball and basketball were the only UIL sports for girls, and basketball only in junior high. There were no cell phones, game films, college sports for girls, summer leagues, no all-weather tracks, and the girls played half court, 3-on-3; not full court, 5-on-5. Until Title IX in 1972, I had late basketball practice starting at 5:15 every day.
I started teaching at Devine High School in 1967 where many lasting and treasured friendships began. The staff had Christmas and end-of-the-school year parties, often at our house. Don cooked lots of briskets and taught many his technique. The parties might last so long that Don and I would go on to bed and leave our company outside in our yard. When Bob Bendele became principal, he wanted to cook and host the end-of-the-year get-together. That was certainly great with me!
We played Secret Santa games at Christmas. I have and still decorate at Christmas with a dinner plate that has a Christmas snow scene painted by English teacher, Kathleene Runnels (who began the Secret Santa tradition).
I was so impressed with the first prom decorations I saw. The theme was Las Vegas, and they painted and placed a huge mural of the Las Vegas skyline in front of the entire bleachers at the old high school, now the intermediate school. Then I remember that our old gym floor was warped and never the same after a prom waterfall leaked onto and under the wooden floor.
Often the class sponsors tried to out-do the decorations from the previous year. That was extremely hard to do, following my group of sponsors. We had Joyce Bendele, DHS art teacher, in charge of art and decoration ideas, JoAnn Lindsey (HomeEc teacher) for food, and Phil McAnnely for props. The rest of us did what we were told. Our proms were, in my opinion, spectacular.
Does anyone know of another school in which parents host an Around the World party for graduating seniors? For years, the last stop always had a swimming pool. After all the wonderful food and activities, some sponsors ended up being thrown into the pool. I always took as many seniors in with me as I could!
Spending a week with the seniors on their senior trip to Colorado was challenging and required several days of rest afterwards. We left at 4:00AM for a 2-day school-bus ride to Colorado Springs. I saw my first dust storm in the Texas Panhandle, snow on Pike’s Peak, the Royal Gorge, the Garden of the Gods. We tried to keep the seniors very busy, and the responsibility always kept me alert.
In my last 15 years, Bob Bendele was our high school principal. He emphasized values that I also believed: “Take pride and do your best in all activities at DHS.” He disciplined us when needed but he treated us like we were his brothers and sisters. He was amazing!

My PROFESSIONAL PASSION was coaching. In the 60s, no large schools in San Antonio played girls basketball. It was played only in small, rural schools. Devine was even Class AA. There was no 3-point shot; no AAU travel or elite teams, no individual paid instructors. A few girls shot a jump-shot and the euro step was not even thought of and would have been a walking violation. The defensive players never practiced free throws because when they were fouled, the coach was allowed to let her best offensive shooter to shoot for them. Imogene Tschirhart made 30 free throws in one game; that was common. Girls played half court, and the three offensive players stayed on one end while the defensive players advanced the ball up the mid-court line after a steal, rebound, or missed shot. No player could cross the center line. Our uniform shorts were very short – both the boys’ and girls’ – and the Dilly Queens wore skirts with shorts underneath.
Only the District Champion advanced to the playoff Bi-District game. The winner went straight to the Regional Tournament, and the four Regional winners went to State, where we were assured of two games. Winners played the championship game, and the losers played for 3rd place.
I became the Arabian Coach in 1967-68, and we lost our first four games but ended up playing at the Regional Tournament at Kingsville A&I, now A&M. Their old gym was so small that the defenders had to back up 3 ft from all out-of-bounds lines to allow the offense room to pass the ball inbounds.
In 1970, we went back to Regionals with a super exciting one-point victory, 70-69, over Canyon of New Braunfels, a much taller and more talented team. It was an unexpected win. Then we lost to Calallen for a second year in the finals.
In 1972, we lost to Calallen for a third time in the Regional finals. This Arabian team was loaded with talent from both the senior and junior classes. We were experienced, gutty, and probably my best team so far. I took this loss personally, which is never a good thing. They were a special team, and after that loss, I did not praise them as I should have. I sure tried later to let them know how proud I was of them. Glenda Robertson Lehnhoff, who just recently died, was senior on that team.
Maybe the 1973 team was motivated by those Calallen loses, as that year we won our 1st Regional Championship! We were going to State! It also helped that Calallen was now in Class AAA. But, getting there was still heart-stopping. We had won Bi-District, 64-62 over Boerne and had to come from behind in both Regional games to beat George West by one – 55-54, and then Granada, 52-42.
Not knowing any better, I allowed the UIL to make our lodging arrangements. We stayed in the oldest hotel in Austin with all its antique furniture and no place to park the bus. Don was driving all our bus trips, so he had to park and walk a half mile, back and forth, each trip.
At the State Tournament, our excitement met reality. We played undefeated Midway Waco, by far the best team in any classification in the state. Immediately we knew we were in trouble when 5’5” Clara Campsey’s jump shot was aggressively blocked by the 6’2” defender! In fact, they had three players over 6’ tall. Our tallest player was Diane Rohmer Patton at 5’9”, maybe! A unique thing about that team was that all four seniors had Marie as their middle name: Diane Marie Rohmer, Donna Marie Sollock, Clara Marie Campsey, and Emogene Marie DuBose. They were the “Maries of ‘73” playing in our first trip to Austin.
We made it to the State Tournament four times total. Our second trip again was not easy. We beat Hays Consolidated in overtime, 58-53. They missed a wide-open lay-up with seconds left that would have won the game for them. At Regionals, we nipped Palacious by 2 in the Regional finals. In our State game, we were trailing Abilene Wylie late in the game and needed to foul intentionally but make it not look intentional. Our guards were in foul trouble, so I put in freshman Tina Morris. According to her story, she was scared and did not understand what I meant when I said, “Push her.” So she did! The Wylie player went flying across the center line, and we were called for an intentional foul. So, they shot and got the ball back. But, that was not why we lost the game. We just did not shoot very well, and I had a sick player trying to play in the very hot, old Gregory Gym. Abilene won 69-54.
Our third trip to the State Tournament was in 1987 and was our best chance to win a game. We had talent, plus height, which was unusual, with 6’2” Holly Graham, Melissa and Theresa Haglund, point guard, Tracey Fewell, and a host of other talented players. But, we could not overcome the efforts of Sweeney and lost, 60-51.
Our last trip was 1989 when we, once again, had two nail-biting games, the first with Liberty Hill. We won 52-51 on a lay-up by Vanessa Lorraine with four seconds left to play. The final game was a rematch with Jourdanton and their star player, 6’1” Beth Burkett. We were equally matched teams. We had split in District play with them and were fortunate to have won Regionals in overtime, 56-54. In the State Semi-finals, we lost to power house Canyon Eagles from the Texas Panhandle by 40 points! That was painful!
We had a disappointing loss in our last trip to the Regional Tournament in 1992. However, the Area game just before was one of the best. We were losing by 5 points with 1:21 left in the game. Their fans started singing the “Na, Na, Na, Na, Good-bye” song to us. But “the fat lady had not sung yet, as Holly Sadler made a steal and an unbelievable save. She passed to Annie Martin, who scored. Annie followed up with two more baskets after we stole a pass and intercepted an inbound pass. We won 54-53, much to the disappointment of the Edna fans.
Bill Bain today will sometimes remind me of the win over Medina Valley when we went into our 4-corner stall for almost the entire game. Mandy Davis Cross, the assistant principal of Ciavarra Elementary, was the point guard in that game and loved to run the stall.
Terri Caldwell Wells, a former Arabian on the 1977 State qualifying team, came back to Devine to take over our volleyball program in 1982. Within a few years, her program was the envy of South Texas. She won back-to-back State Volleyball Championships in 1987 and 1988. Nothing is more exciting than winning it ALL! Stacy Hamilton Sparagna expressed that excitement well after our win; she did a back flip in her volleyball uniform on the court in front of all those fans. Good job, Stacey!
I started the girls cross country, track, and softball programs and had the pleasure of coaching all of them in the first seasons. I was the only girls coach in the program until 1980. So, I had to coach cross country and track. I did not know anything about track fundamentals, so I ordered a track book. The girls laughed (of course, behind my back) when they saw me reading the book at practice. Does anyone remember those old, gold, fuzzy track warm-ups? Yuck! With no money budgeted for track equipment, we even picked up aluminum cans to raise money. We had a dirt track as long as I was coaching in Devine; so, we had to roll, water, and line the track before every meet. Coach Glenn Randow taught us how to run an efficient meet, so people liked to come to Devine until other schools started getting all-weather tracks. Kayci Waters was our first State Track Champion, winning the 3200 meter run three times in a row, 1995-96-97. She was State Runner-up also three times in the mile (1600 meter) run in 1995, ’96, ’98.
We started softball in 1994, and I chose to coach the team with Don assisting. During the Christmas holidays before the first season began, Don, Jim, and I set all the fence posts in concrete, and several parents helped the school build the backstop and today’s dugouts. We were having a great season when, just before our 1st playoff game, our star catcher, Erica Ramos, was killed in a car accident. That was the worst of times. But, somehow, we pulled it all together with Brianne Obaya filling in as our catcher, and we made it all the way to the State Tournament. In our first game at State, we came from behind to win the game in the top of the 7th inning. Leah Lorraine got a critical hit into right field to aid in that victory.
The next morning, we had a big lead over Belleville early, but they kept cutting into our lead. We were up two, with one out in the 7th inning, when Belleville, with two runners on base, got a hit to the outfield. One run scored when the throw to home was late. But, quick-thinking catcher, Brianne Obaya, threw to third base to tag a runner who was making a wide turn at third. That was out number 2. In all the confusion, the Belleville coach decided to steal third as we were getting ready to give the ball to our pitcher. Alert Traci Steele saw what was happening and took the ball from Leah Lorraine Land and dove in a cloud of dust to make the tag for the 3rd out. We won 9-8 and were going to play in the Championship game. We were all celebrating wildly. Does anyone remember Coach Wells’ reaction as she was trying to find someone to hug and couldn’t? That was funny! Our luck ran out as we lost 9-2 in the Championship game.

Other fun times were team overnight camping trips to Con Can, Christmas parties at my house, and end-of-the-year parties with my brownies and Don’s brisket. We had to make our own money in order to give the players gifts. So, besides collecting aluminum cans, we ran the volleyball concessions stand. I always gave all Arabian athletes a small Christmas gift such as an Arabian key chain. At first I gave my seniors a charm with their name and uniform number. On the back was engraved their team accomplishments. Later, I changed it to a big plaque with their pictures in each sport they played, and I listed all their individual and team accomplishments.
I loved filming and creating the Sports Banquet Highlight film. It was so much work, before the time of computers. But, the athletes looked forward to seeing it, and I loved doing it for them.
An old, concrete City of Devine street sign appeared in my yard, lettered with our championship accomplishments in 1973. It is still in my yard. I have had to repaint it several times. I’m still not sure who borrowed it and gave it to me!
Some of my players loved to toilet paper the big oak trees in my yard. It happened so often that one year Don told me I had to put a stop to it or at least slow it down. I got permission from the parents of those I thought were the ring leaders to toilet paper their rooms. So, while I had them at practice, some friends went to their houses. They not only papered their bedrooms but emptied their dresser drawers. Their clothes and toilet paper were hanging from light fixtures, curtains, door knobs, drawer knobs, lamp shades, bed posts, and any area you can imagine. It was a mess, but their parents thought it was hilarious as they watched the clean-up.
Before Don and I were married, he got on our bus as we were leaving for Jourdanton for a game and announced that he had an engagement ring for the winning coach. No pressure? We did win by 3 points, beating coach Carolyn Williams, my close friend.
In 1978, I got to coach the very last 3-on-3, half court game in Texas. It was the summer before we started playing 5-on-5, and I was coaching the All-Star game at the Coaches’ Clinic. We were severe underdogs, but we snuck out a win. It was an exciting night as my parents had come from Tennessee to watch me coach.
The year I retired, the San Antonio Basketball Officials honored me by dedicating their roster book to me. There was an official who looked like the actor, George Jefferson. I was invited to their dedication meeting, but I was already coaching in Tennessee and could not be there. Neva and Jim went for me and told me later that they had a very cute skit with George Jefferson and me in my rocking chair in the Devine gym. I still regret that I could not attend.
Several coaches I hired are still coaching or teaching in Devine. Over 40 years ago, I hired Candi Darnell to help in basketball and to coach tennis. She is presently the middle school principal and still coaching tennis. Shana McGinnis Beaty, a former Arabian, helped coach in the middle school for years and is still teaching. I talked Gary Schmidt into helping me, and he coached several years after I retired. Jim, who is now Athletic Director, is still coaching the Arabians. I hired him in 1997-98, my very last year. People come to Devine and just want to stay. I sure understand that!
What a pleasure to coach Holly Graham. She was voted South Texas Women’s Sportsman of the year in 1998 and Most Outstanding Female Athlete in the Greater San Antonio Area. Shaquille O’Neal, Shaq of the NBA, was the male winner that same year. Holly got a 4-year scholarship to the University of Texas, and, after her volleyball season ended, she played basketball for Jody Conrad for the last half of the season.
I was blessed to be a part of the evolution of women’s college basketball from the 3-on-3 game to the fast-paced full court fame of today. Today’s players are highly skilled and talented.
Some pioneers in this development were Sue Gunter, LSU and Stephen F. Austin coach, Jody Conrad from the University of Texas, and Pat Head, the Summitt, Tennessee, coach. In the early 70s, they were fighting for equal rights for women in sports. Finally, with the passage of Title IX, equal opportunities for women, the college game grew by leaps and bounds. Now, women get college scholarships, play for the WNCAA championship, and the best, can play in the WNBA.
Sue Gunter came to Texas the same year we came. She really wanted to coach women’s college basketball when there were no opportunities. So, she did! I was a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University, and Sue put together an “Intramural travel team.” We put our number on a “T” shirt, drove our own cars, and paid all our expenses. She was a tough coach and had one rule I always remember: “You had better be in control all the time that you are in the game; if not, you are coming out, and you had best be in control when you come to the bench.”
I played and coached against so many notable players and coaches. Cathy Self Morgan, a former Jourdanton Squaw, won Seven State Championships and 1,170 games. She had the record of the longest winning streak, winning 105 games. That streak was broken in the State Championship finals.
There was WNBA player Clarissa Davis from John Jay High School and Nell Fortner, today’s Georgia coach and former ESPN commentator. Nell is from New Braunfels.
Leta Andrews, coach at Grandbury, Texas, may still have the record nationally for the most high school victories, 1416.
Joe Lombard won game #1000 in the State Championship finals. He has 1379 wins.
Since retiring, I just enjoy watching games with daughters of former players: Sandy Wilkerson Beck’s Willie Jo; Nicki Malone Taylor’s Allyson and Sierra; Shannon Marsh Ramirez’s Kailee and niece Oakley; Imogene Tschirhart’s Kara and Karla; Kelly Hellums’ twins, Megan and Brooke – also Arabians. Brooke won the Tennis State Championship. Dawn Hoog Zapata’s daughter, Jordon; Monica Ybanez’s Yessika. Joselyn and Jillian Cuajardo’s Aunt Maria was a player for me. There are so many more I wish I could name. But, it is time to get this to the Devine News and KK DuBose Calame, who is also a former Arabian, with daughters who played.
So, thanks to all former Arabians for the memories, and good luck to the future and present ones.
By the way, if you are thinking Coach Sessions sure has a great memory for details, NO! But I sure have great scrapbooks!

Williams named Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications

Linay Williams, (daughter of DHS graduates Vance Runnels and LeeAnn McReynolds), a Texas Tech alumna and seasoned agricultural marketer, has been named Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications for the university’s Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. She will officially step into her new role on July 5.

Linay Runnels Williams

While Williams has many objectives for the college’s marketing and communications efforts, her primary goal is to tell the world about the innovation and limitless potential that Davis College provides both its students and the future of agriculture.
Prior to her new role at Texas Tech, Williams owned Black Creek Innovations which specialized in marketing for agricultural organizations such as Purina Animal Nutrition, Cosequin Equine and Nutrition Plus. She worked with a wide range of clients within various agricultural industries including livestock production, wildlife conservation, and equine health. 
With these different clients, she provided a wide range of services, including digital marketing and advertising, along with event marketing, graphic design and brand management. Williams also served for a brief period as a Field Representative for the Texas Department of Agriculture.
The Hondo, Texas, native also launched a business development organization for rural business women known as ‘Unbridled,’ and is President of the PanTex Buyers Group, a non-profit dedicated to supporting stock show youth of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains. Williams now lives in Quitaque, Texas, with her husband and two young sons where they raise Angus cattle.
During her time as an undergraduate at Texas Tech, Williams participated on the horse judging, meat judging and livestock Judging teams, all while pursuing her degree in agricultural communications. A 2016 graduate, she continues to lean heavily on her collegiate experiences. These, combined with her collective career experience, will serve Williams well as she works to elevate the representation of Davis College and all its departments and programs.

Kathleene Runnels…The “Number Game” was not in the curriculum

I moved to Devine High School to teach because I needed to leave the politics of South San, where I had been teaching high school English – all four grades – for three years. When my husband mentioned to Dr. Charles Crouch, who was on the DISD school board at the time, that I was looking for a new school, he relayed that the high school was needing a freshman English teacher. I set up an appointment with the superintendent, Mr. Barnhart. That was 1975.
Even though teaching freshmen wasn’t my preference, the job was a refreshing change, (even the pay cut), as I found it a joy working with the teachers, administration, and students of Devine. Then, the next year, I was blessed to be able to move to the junior and senior levels.

Franklin and Kathleene Runnels at the Around the World party at the home of Suzanne Barber, 1981.

My first memories of DHS were of the teachers: Don and Gayle Sessions, Coach Jay Patterson, Dalees Moore, Brenda Gardner, Phil McAnelly, Mrs. Smith Moorehead, Dora Fernandez and JoAnn Bean.
I smile when I recall lunch in the cafeteria when someone harassed me, and I retaliated by “playing lookie” with my cherry cobbler. Don said he had thought me sophisticated until that moment! LOL.
Brenda and I connected right away, and our argumentative antics just about drove Mrs. Moorehead crazy. She often left the lounge, thinking we were fussing. We were just noisy. Of course, my most vivid memory of B.G. (Brenda Gardner), is, shall we say, her “raising her voice” at her students from her tiny journalism/English classroom in the Multiple Purpose Room next to the cafeteria downstairs.
My husband, Franklin, was a high school basketball coach at the time, so he loved visiting with the inimitable Coach Gayle Sessions, who, in the 70s, was already a legend. And he also enjoyed Coach Jay Patterson, having attended college with him at Sul Ross.
Because Franklin was in the coaching scene in San Antonio, he knew Rudy Davila, who was with the Spurs, which was owned at the time by Red McCombs. Thus, when Rudy reached out to Franklin about any jobs he knew of for a Spanish and history teacher, Franklin pointed them toward Devine. Red’s daughter, Marsha McCombs Shields, and her husband, John, were needing jobs, having just graduated from Duke University. And that’s how Marsha and John came to Devine to begin their short stint to the world of education.
One year, Marsha, plus the drama coach, Al Holman, and the typing teacher, Dalees Moore, and I shared the same conference period, and we had a blast while unsuccessfully attempting to use our time constructively. But hey, one does need a little levity. And we found just that by playing “The Number Game”. The loser had to buy sodas for the others. How do you lose? Well, the leader chose a number, somewhere between one and 100, and we went around the table, choosing a figure that we hoped was not the right one. “No; higher. No; lower,” until someone unfortunately guesses the number. The resulting shouts and hollers often brought principal, Mr. Groogan, into the lounge to see if the paintings were still on the walls! Over the years, Marsha and I, as with so many others I taught with, like B. G., Gayle, and Phil, have remained friends.
One of my greatest joys and memories is that the freshman kids I taught in my first year, I also had the honor of teaching in their junior and senior years. Those kids, the Class of ‘79, are so very dear to me. I often said that anything they didn’t know was on me, as I had taught them for three years!
Other student joys were my honor of being NHS sponsor and UIL poetry coach – where we always went to Regionals, thanks to students like Sherrie English and René Irwin. I was also Senior Class sponsor, which took me “Around the World” for five of my seven years at Devine. Of course the students did attempt to pull pranks on me like trying to throw me in the pool at Scott Weber’s home. Thank goodness I didn’t take off my camera, which they did try to get me to do!
I had my own pranks to pull. Like the year I had taken the NHS class to Schlitterbahn, and on the bus trip home, all chatter ceased when I pulled out my red nail polish and began to paint the toe nails of Kevin Graham, who was asleep in the seat behind me with his long leg and big foot propped on the arm rest beside me. The sudden hush woke him up. He still threatens to “paper” my house!
Every year I took the seniors to San Antonio to the public library for research for their term papers. (Remember, this was before computers and Google.) The library was located on the Riverwalk at that time, and I’m glad they didn’t include ALL their research on notecards!
I fondly recall taking Cindy Moeller home with me every Tuesday night during basketball season to “babysit” and stay the night while I went to Franklin’s games. What a great setup. We all rode back to school together the next day.
I remember the gentleman, Byron McAllister, who once threatened to beat up another boy who was rude to me. Then there was the time I threw an eraser at Ronnie Harrell – just funning – which he dodged. It hit the wall behind him. I guess I would be arrested for that today! I used to tease Carolyn Fargason by often smearing her glasses until one day when she licked her finger and smeared my cheek! Lesson learned! Frances Navarro adopted me as my other daughter! Rodney Scantlin adopted Franklin and me as our foster son for a short time. Cindy Minton and Jeanne Weaver gave me a Christmas decoration that I use to this day. It always makes me smile.
Since we lived halfway between San Antonio and Devine, Franklin and I began a tradition that lasted through our own kids’ graduation whereby we hosted a 3:00AM breakfast on prom night for the students who were typically traveling back to Devine from San Antonio. We felt that it got them off the roads for a break and gave them a positive activity.
As an English teacher, one assignment I required was that my students write three entries a week in a journal. This exercise was to help them in communication, mechanics, and grammar skills. They could write on any subject (so long as it was not about drinking, etc.), And I promised not to share anything that they shared with me. (And some of the things they wrote about were quite poignant.) The results were that, not only did it improve in their writing, but it gave me insights into their hearts. I found that, although I may not have approved of some student’s behavior, I learned to love each one unconditionally.
At the close of every school year, I wrote a poem to the senior class, often naming each student, highlighting in an amusing way how they fit into the group. I would read it to the class at graduation rehearsal. I got as much kick out of it as they did.
Teaching high school English had always been my dream, and I realized that dream in the most superb way at DHS. I loved my students and I loved teaching English. I left teaching in 1982 with the best of memories, and, even after 40-plus years, I always proudly identify with the role of high school English teacher who was blessed at having taught at DHS!

Brenda Gardner shares her thoughts as she begins her 50th year at DISD

After 49 years in education in many different capacities, one can imagine that there are so many memories. In fact, after this many years, I have probably forgotten more than I remember. I retired in June 2022 after 48 years and now work part time for DISD

I think I will go backwards in time. After I went to the intermediate and elementary in 2006, I decided the name of my book would be “Nobody Told Me”. I had been at DHS for 32 years—I wasn’t in any way prepared for the difference.
Nobody told me kids line up—for everything! When I asked why, I was told, “You’ll figure it out.” And, I did. So many times as principal, I told staff—“be sure you line them up and count.” We had to be sure we came back with the same number we went with.
Nobody told me there are no bells at elementary. How do you keep up? For high school teachers, the bell ending class means a restroom break or a chance to go get a Diet Coke (that was my beverage of choice). At elementary, teachers have to wait for an aide to come to the classroom or ask someone to cover for them for a couple of minutes. In high school bells signify the passing of the day. Elementary teachers have a built-in clock. They just know—I never did figure out how, they just do.
Nobody told me there is “bodily fluid” duty every—single—day. Wiping noses, tears, scraped knees, and lots of other stuff is on the daily regimen of things to do.
Nobody told me what holidays, Meet the Teacher, and Public School Week are like at an elementary. There are no crafty gifts for moms or dads at high school for Christmas. High school teachers throw up a few posters for Meet the Teacher, and wait. Elementary teachers go waaaaaay beyond. The first year or two I walked around with my mouth hanging open.
Nobody told me I would go home crying lots of days. Sometimes little kids tell more than you want to know.
BUT—nobody told me of all the joy children create in another person’s life. They want to learn; they have such a wonder about the world; they thought I was beautiful!
Being an elementary principal were some of the most gratifying years in my career. Before those years, came many at the high school. There were so many things I learned from teachers and staff members at CES. To name a few—Becky Tyler, Gail Cooley, Melissa Lyles, Betty Morgan, Claudia Holzhaus—were all about my age. So I didn’t feel quite as stupid asking them a question. I remember Betty telling me to NEVER drink from a water fountain. When I asked why, she just pointed to a child drinking. Children put their entire mouths on the water flow. Now water fountains are a rarity—there are bottle fillers.
I came to Devine High School in the fall of 1974 as a journalism and English teacher. I spent 32 years there. I knew how many ceiling tiles were in each hall—not really, but that is lots of time spent walking those halls.
I had many principals, but Bob Bendele stands out as the best. I learned so much from him that I would use later when I became a principal. I will tell you that he got mad at me a few times. When he came to the lounge and said, “Mrs. Gardner…”, I know I was in trouble.
There were so many wonderful staff members. I don’t dare start naming them because I would have to make too many apologies for leaving many “someones” out.
My first classroom was downstairs in the multi-purpose room in what is now the technology department. I loved it because the room had windows—I could see every person who walked in the school. Just so you know—all journalists are curious (an euphemism for nosey)—that’s what makes us good at what we do. And, yes, I know I could have covered them, but that wouldn’t have been as fun.
The band hall was in the MPR—forget about having first period anything on Fridays. It was soooo loud.
Jo Ann Burleson was my first yearbook editor and Laureen Chernow was my first newspaper editor. I learned from them and maybe, they learned a little from me. Jo Ann went on to be a journalism teacher and Laureen worked in the field in Austin.
During those years, things were far different from today. When I got pregnant with Jimmy, Matt Hales would go get me a hot fudge sundae from Dairy Queen every day during yearbook. That might explain those 50 pounds.
I moved to the ag building after about nine years downstairs. If you remember that old building, it was certainly was not sealed well. When we would get heavy rain, it came in under the wall that faced the outside. There were mice—families of them, and bats in the ceiling.
There was the time we saw a mouse, and Shannon Rackley climbed up the wall. And, I mean literally up—the—wall. Marly Davis and Kyla Perry named them when they were in newspaper.
In the early days teachers could have student aides. I had many. Jolinda Center would go pick up Jason from the babysitter and take him to school. Buddy Wheeler and Johnny Byrd would go buy groceries for me, take my dry cleaning—all kinds of errands. Those were the days of film and wet darkrooms, so there were always the trips to Conoly Drug to drop off color film to be developed.
Selling ads for the newspaper and yearbook was a key event. Yes, kids drove their cars and went out to make this happen. Jim Sessions and Joe Navarro prided themselves on being the top salesmen ever. I also had them for English III. Always remember why Thoreau went to the woods.
And, oh, the darkroom–I don’t even pretend to know everything that happened in there. I knew that sometimes kids—Audra Terry, to name one—would go out the back door that led to the ag hall and go buy tacos. The dead giveaway is that they would leave the foil by the enlargers—duh!
I got certified in speech and taught that for several years. Obviously, kids had to give speeches. I recall that Larry Burford just would not give his. It was a two-minute deal. He was going to fail. At that time this was a required course for graduation. So, I called his mom, Brenda. I told her that I did not care what the speech was about—tying his shoes would work. And, so, the next day Larry gave his demonstration speech about tying shoes. And, he passed.
I coached UIL events—lots of them and traveled a lot with kids on buses. Probably, I spent more time with them than I did with my own family. Lots of Saturdays we left at 5 or 5:30 a.m.—way too early! And we got home around 7 or 8 p.m.—lots of long days. But we won lots, so it was worth it. There were lots of two-day meets. I would sleep in my clothes so I could get up and go after only four or so hours of sleep.
During the time when Jay Dee Hicks was counselor and went with us to regional UIL, we had to stop at the creek between Jourdanton and Devine and have a “ceremony”. It was quite formal with lots of lamenting. Harvey Lynch wrote a song about this creek, which Jay Dee sang.
Back in the day before computers, we had files for informative and persuasive speaking—big bins of file folders filled with news articles. We had to use a dolly to get them and in and out of schools. I loved the bus drivers who helped me load and unload all those boxes. Prose and poetry kids were a lot easier—just a notebook. And journalism kids just had to have a pen and paper.
In LaVernia one year Allison Lyles had made it to the finals in informative—not her favorite event. She came out of the library and told me she couldn’t do it, that she was going to throw up. I told her to suck it up, get back in there and do what she needed to do. I know it sounds harsh, but, oh, well… Allison later told me that those words stayed with her, and when she had to do something she really didn’t want to, she would remember. Allison went on the win prose at the state meet her senior year.
I helped with one-act play for many years. My main job for Marion Randow was to be sure there was an adequate supply of Diet Dr. Pepper. There may directors—Deanna Kempen, Mary Rowell, Lori Marek, Kary Yourman—most of the time I really did what I was asked. I was also contest director for many years. I got to see so many talented and dedicated young people—not just Devine’s, but from lots of schools.
We had some fun times on all our trips. I will tell you that most of this was before air-conditioned buses. The trip to regional in Kingsville every year was more than hot. Anyone who has been any kind of club, athletic, any organization sponsor and taken kids on overnight trips remembers staying up until the morning hours making sure all kids were really asleep. As I got older, smarter, and perhaps more cynical, I would tape the doors. Then we could tell if someone had opened one.
When I first started and until just several years before I left the classroom, we “pasted up” the newspaper. The Devine News would “set” copy for us in long galleys. We would cut and use rubber cement to paste those on pages. Toward the end of my career, computers made it to Devine. My first Mac had a screen just a little larger than a postcard. I remember taking it home—it had a carrying case—so I could learn Adobe Pagemaker, which is what we would use for the newspaper. We were going to ILPC, and I was taking a course in that program. I sat at my house at a card table determined that I would not be the dumbest one in that class. I cried over learning that program. There were others who knew less than I did. It was still a few years before we would use a computer to do the entire newspaper. Doing yearbook digitally came even later. Now, it’s hard to imagine doing things any other way. Melody Shultz was the editor of the yearbook when we started doing them electronically. It was way more of a learning curve for me than it was for her.
I was very privileged and blessed to take more than 30 kids to the state UIL meet. I took many newspaper and yearbook staffs to the summer ILPC conference at UT in Austin every June.
Devine ISD has been my “home” for many years. I have had so many wonderful opportunities, and worked with some amazing and dedicated educators.
I am beginning the 50th year in DISD. Thanks to all of you who have made a difference in my life. I am so blessed to be a part of this district and this community.

MRS. SANDY MILLER shares amusing anecdotes of her teaching days in Devine

I will always regard the years I taught at Devine High School as the very best years of my 43-year teaching career. Those years are filled with memories of many wonderful students, coworkers and Devine community members. It was definitely a more casual, relaxed, fun filled environment than exists in many school districts today. There is no doubt in my mind that my time at DHS was a blessing to me. I would like to share a few of those special memories today. To this day we subscribe to the “Devine News”. It is fun to read the honor roll, check sports page and look for Lewis Stroud’s picture in the paper.
First of all, I will always be grateful for the absolute best principal ever, Bob Bendele, and the best superintendent, Dr. Steele. I was also lucky enough to have many outstanding co-workers …. Nancy McGowan, Mary Rowell, Myra Waters, Richard Malone, Kay Schultz, Gordon Schultz, Susan Frazier, and Bill Lorraine, Beulah Anderson, Phil and Linda McAnelly, to name just a very few.
Devine is certainly the most sports-loving town I have ever been in. Football games seem to rule in the fall. Spirit ribbons I think sold for a quarter. There were decorating contests during homecoming week. There was the weekly pep rally with spirit sticks awarded…. I think I still have mine. One time we even had won a pep rally sponsored by 92.9. The DJ’s name was Catfish something or other. It is a little late but I apologize for not arranging that ahead of time with the administration. I didn’t know I was going to win the contest. At the games, former players, some wearing their old letter jackets, were lined up by the fence. Band parents were selling popcorn, pickles, and frito pies in the concession stands. Cheerleaders were throwing little footballs into the stands. I was passing out Bozo Bucks. Ralph Reyes’ mother was ringing a cowbell in the stands. A good time was had by all. The excitement when Devine beat Hondo for the first time in a long time in ’86 was unbelievable!
The Talent Show was a lot of fun. Gary English was on drums singing “You Have To Fight For Your Right To Party”. Mary Rowell had a group of teachers pantomime ”Leader of the Pack”. Mr. Hicks sang “Old Man Lucas had a lot of Mucus”. Lots of other “talent” was shown as well.
It was a more relaxed time. There were pickups in the parking lot with guns in the gun rack and nobody felt threatened. I was able to send two of my aides to Dairy Queen to take lunch to my junior high kids. Garret Pye dashed over to the junior high to get one of his mother’s hubcaps to illustrate a property of circles during geometry class. Shannon Rackley brought her two-wheel bicycle for the same reason.

Once there were several goats loose on the city street. The animal control officer was not available to catch them. The City Administrator (my husband Bob) came over to the high school and talked to Travis Byrom. Field trip! Travis and his class grabbed some rope, jumped into their pickups and took care of the situation. I think Travis may have given Matt Barber a lesson in roping that day.
I only had 5 students, maybe 6, in my trig class one year. One day we all got in my car and I just drove us around town with maybe a stop at Dairy Queen. It was a great study break.
UIL was a fun time. Brenda Gardner was an awesome coordinator for that. One time we were I think in Kerrville for a meet. I do not like to drive and was more than a little unnerved about driving back to Devine. I made 16 year-old Royd Graham drive us all back. Maybe he volunteered. I am not sure. I think he had a license…lol. I just know I didn’t drive.
One of the reasons I really appreciated Bob Bendele is because he let me hang up a bunch, a whole bunch, of posters in my room. Neva Sessions, as a little girl, would come over in the summer and help me put up posters and words on the wall. I am guessing Jim was hanging out in the gym shooting baskets.
I loved the fact that because of my teaching schedule, I could end up teaching some students three years in a row. One year TEA mandated a teacher evaluation form that had 75 components. One of the biggies on the list was Per Cent of Student Participation. I was due for an evaluation, and since I had a good relationship with this one particular class, I devised a way to get that item checked off. It was like a game to me and still makes me smile to remember it. I told my students that when I asked a question during the evaluation, that if they knew the right answer, then they should raise their right hand. If they did not know the right answer they should raise their left hand. Voila ! 100% participation. Unbeknownst to me, the kids had their own little plan. When I asked the first question, they all raised their left hand. I just said “Great, since you all know the answer we will just move on”. Everyone had a big smile, including me. I actually wanted to laugh out loud.
Zero hour was a fun addition to the schedule. One time my daughter Margaret was not in class. I gave my car keys to Holly Graham and had her go to my house and wake up Margaret. Luckily, the Graham kids were good drivers. Robert Diaz was late to zero hour one time. His excuse was that he was delayed due to a bunch of chickens being on the road. I questioned that. He said that one was still attached to his vehicle. So, we all went downstairs to the parking lot and sure enough, there was a dead chicken wedged under the grill. Excuse accepted.
Getting a computer lab was a big step forward. So then we had a Computer Club. It was a pretty active club, even if we didn’t spend time on computers. One of our first fun activities was a snipe hunt at President Maggie Whitaker’s ranch. I had never been on a snipe hunt, nor had our foreign exchange student, Hakon Rostad. Haven’t been on one since.
One of the Computer Club activities was the annual trip to A&M. One time Brenda Weinstrom did not make it back to the bus. Hmm. Don’t think her brother Bruce was too concerned. Maybe he thought it was typical. I believe Kenny Saucedo was the hero of the day when he found her wandering around campus somewhere. Those were fun trips, even if someone did have motion sickness and threw up on the bus. The details escape me, but somehow we managed to hose down the floor. Onward!
One of the final grades in my geometry class each year was Hat Day. Students needed to construct a hat using as many different geometric shapes as possible. It was a relatively easy grade and a chance to boost your grade to passing if you needed it. One student, who shall remained nameless, did not pass geometry the first time. I remember the second year when I discussed Hat Day with the class, he turned around and said “She will fail you if you don’t do it, trust me” and then did not do it. He did pass the third year.
During our annual awards ceremony, each teacher gave an award to the most outstanding student and to the most improved student. I decided the above unnamed young man would definitely be my most improved (maybe of all time). When I called his name during the assembly, I was told that he was in the Ag barn working on a project there so that he would pass that class.
I liked that as a teacher, we would be a sponsor to the same class for all of their four years in high school. There was a lot of fundraising involved during that time. Page Pye showed her business skills early on. I heard her sometimes going down the hall reminding others about paying dues, or working at a fund raiser, etc. One time Andy Zapata, Dawn Hoog and I were in Andy’s truck late at night moving chairs from a fundraiser. We were stopped by the police who were wondering why we were out riding around that late, I guess. It was a little awkward to me to admit that my husband was their boss. All was well though.
My son Chris told me an interesting story that I had not heard before. He called it The Lawyer’s First Loss. In one of his classes they had a mock trial. Chris and Greg Estes were on one side. Paul Noak (lawyer’s son and future lawyer) and Chris Navarro were on another side. David Yarbro was the judge. Apparently Paul and Chris N. really had the better case; but David ruled in favor of Chris and Greg. It seems there had been a bit of bribery involved.
One of my best memories from our time in Devine was when we moved from our rent house to our new house. Instead of hiring a moving company, a bunch of my students came over and moved us. It was a trail of pickup trucks all day Saturday. When I went to school on Monday, I had to ask each class if anyone knew where my coffee pot was.
I have tried my best but some of these facts may be a little off. I just know I loved my time in Devine. I will always miss it. It was such a great pleasure to meet some many wonderful people. I have loved seeing those “kids” grow up and have kids and grandkids of their own (thank you FaceBook). I have thought of many other former students and associates as well. I would love to hear from you. I am on FaceBook under Sandy Miller .

Shirley Baker bloomed in Tiny Town Devine

Class of ‘82: L-R: Clarice Wood, Jennifer DuBose, Debbie Bush, and sitting, Shirley Baker at the FBC Hobo Party.

As told by Shirley Baker Humberson:
Ode to Seniors 82
Now that summer time is near
Anticipation grows.
Graduation brings new worlds
Of fun for you to sow.
Details you may not recall
But surely you will deign
To know Shakespeare or Macbeth’s lines
You won’t have learned in vain.
Meanwhile let us reminisce
Once more of student’s ways—
Things you’ve done throughout the year
In time will muse your days,
Journalism, paper staff—
You labored under fire.
Deadlines kept you working hard
To lessen B.G.’s ire.
Other courses bring to mind
Debates with Coach Malone.
Worries over chemistry 
Exams brought mournful groans.
Football taught new strategies;
Each year we struggled through.
Basketball brought some success—
The Warhorse spirit grew.
Honors came to special ones;
Our Queen was Mary Lou.
Shirley was the favorite girl of 1982.
Malefactors used free time
To mow and paint and clean.
Student council worked to start a campus-pride campaign.
Silly things somehow remain
Like glasses someone smeared —
Sacrifice our dignity
To pass the stress-filled year!
Seems so many things
Would surely bring us doom.
Later on we’ll understand
that here our lives have bloomed.


I found this poem written by Kathleene Runnels, our senior English teacher, to be a perfect fit for remembering the class of 1982 – the happiness, the details, and even disappointments of our years in high school. Lots of laughs and silliness ensued, from the annual green hand inductees for F.F.A. to the Halloween water balloons!
The stories I can recount, too many to mention. One in particular came just after the “Around the World” party. We had finished up with the country of Australia at the Baker’s house, where everyone ended up being thrown into the pool. Fun times, except not everyone knew how to swim, a brief yikes!
Once cleared from any harm the party ended and several friends headed to the DQ for the infamous drive around to see who was there. My friend Debi Crouch (prior to Campsey) and I devised a plan that we would tell our mothers that each one of us would be spending the night at each other’s homes. To this day I have no idea what we thought we would do! The town shut down and the lights began to blink at 10:00pm. At the time I was driving Paul Haas’ old 1959 Chief Apache pickup. I proudly purchased that from him with the money I saved from working for $2.25/hour all summer long at Devine Nuts.
In our cruise around the DQ, we happened upon Kenny Lessing. He, too, had a very old blue truck he called Bessie. I pulled up next to him and asked if he would like to race out at the quarter on 2200. He gladly accepted the challenge, and off we went, neither truck having the ability to break 60 miles per hour (laugh laugh).
Just when we were to turn off 173 to 2200, we began to pass my mother’s car. With a stern face and in her night gown, she pointed a finger right at us and commanded we get home right away. My mother looked directly at me and stated that my father wished to speak with me. Instant tears began to flood my face for fear of my father’s wrath. Debi Crouch assured me that “WB” would not be that angry.
Once we arrived, my dad was sitting in his recliner, calmly reading the Devine News. He lowered the paper and grimly stated that “stupid people do stupid things. Don’t be stupid. Now go to bed.” I was shocked and relieved by his response, and promptly grabbed Debi’s hand and headed to my room. Of course, Debi had to tease me for crying so much.
She said, see “WB” wasn’t that mad.
I never did get to race that quarter of the highway, and I believe that Kenny Lessing would have blown me away. This didn’t stop me from blooming, as we all did in this sweet tiny town of Devine!

Shirley and mom Theresa Baker.

The Spirit of ‘76, as written by Karen Howard Muennink

To say “our” class was special could be an understatement! I doubt our parents were thinking about us graduating as our country celebrated its bicentennial.
All the festivities that surround graduation actually begin when school starts. First, our senior rings arrive and the tradition of getting your ring turned 76 times for good luck had many of us flooding the halls to complete this very important task.
Then, of course, class elections to determine who would provide the leadership we needed.
The year is seriously a blur considering all the achievements of this class. One special example was that our senior band members felt an extra bit of glory receiving the Sweepstakes Trophy because they were the first class to go through band all four years, making Sweepstakes each year! Reference 1976 Corral pg. 90
Fast forward to Spring as clubs and organizations chose beaus and sweethearts, and classes elected favorites.
The Junior Class chose “Spirit of America” as the theme for our prom, which was held in the multi-purpose area of the high school.
Our class was honored with several parties at the end of the year. The Methodist Mother’s hosted a breakfast. Next came the Hobo Party at the Baptist Church. Then came the Catholic Supper. Finally, the seniors went Around the World. While visiting Hawaii in Sheri Carter’s backyard, Jim Hundley and Clay Burleson decided to throw Kathy Anderson, Miss Texas, into the pool! Great memories!
One week and one day later, May 23, 1976, we attended Baccalaureate Services. The very next day, on Monday, May 24th, dressed in our caps and gowns, we marched into the gymnasium to take our assigned seats for Commencement. Guadalupe Rivas gave the invocation. Many of the seniors participated in the choir during Commencement. I was honored to give the Salutatory address. Jeanne Southern was named our class’ Valedictorian. Ken Rector, highest ranking boy, gave the benediction. After all had received his or her diploma, we flung our caps high and celebrated this milestone in our lives!
This is an excerpt from my Salutatory address.
“A whole new world lies in wait for this graduating class. May we possess always the integrity, the courage and the strength to be a beacon of hope to those who follow. This is my wish and my goal, my prayer in this year 1976—two hundred years after the birth of our Country!”
Karen Howard, DHS Salutatorian, 1976