Sumitted by: H. K. “Hank” Woodward, Class of 1956
A few years ago I learned that Ned Conner, our physics and chemistry teacher in high school, was in poor health and living with his son in Napa, California. I decided to go and visit Ned, and I called his son and got directions to his home in Napa, which is an hour or so from my home.
I took my junior and senior year Branding Iron albums with me and met with Ned, his son and daughter, who also lives in the Napa area, for about two hours. I think that we all thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and I learned a lot about Ned and his life growing up in north Texas during the Depression. He was a personal friend of Paul Tanksley and Mrs. Tanksley when growing up, and this no doubt led to his teaching in Del Rio when Mr. Tanksley was superintendent of schools.
Mr. Conner died a year or so ago, and I am so thankful that I took the time to visit with him and thank him for being such a good science teacher for me and others in his classes.
There are other teachers who I would like to thank for being not only good teachers but also very positive influences on me when growing up, especially in elementary school in Del Rio. However, it is now too late to personally thank them, but if I may I would like to take a few minutes now to mention them. I know that not all of you attended Central Elementary, as I, but rather North Heights school. Others of you did not attend elementary school in Del Rio. I ask your indulgence for a few minutes.
I joined the Class of ’56 in October 1945, shortly after the end of World War II when my family and I returned to Del Rio from Austin where my father worked during the war. I remember my mother and I met with Mr. Brown, principal of Central Elementary, who enrolled me in second grade in Mrs. McMath’s class.
I did not want to leave Austin and my friends there in Rosedale Elementary school, and I was not happy being in school in Del Rio. A popular song at the time, made famous by Bing Crosby in the movie Going My Way, was “Swinging on a Star” which has one stanza that states “And by the way, if you hate to go to school, you might grow up to be a Mule.” I was certain that I was destined to grow up to be a mule.
However, things changed dramatically for me in the third grade. I became part of the “extended family” of my classmates, as I discussed earlier with Lupe and Emma Jane who were part of the extended family of us who attended elementary school together for several years and in effect grew up together. And I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Newby, who was also a gracious lady. She was a very positive influence on me. She was also the mother of Dr. Hi Newby.
In fourth grade, I had another wonderful teacher, Miss Herndon. She was lively and encouraged all of us to participate in class activities. Miss Herndon and Mrs. Newby were two of my most favorite teachers in elementary school.
We also had a music class taught by Miss Marion Russell, an outstanding teacher and lady. Del Rio was fortunate to have one of her caliber as she was a true Renaissance person. She also had the uncanny ability to play the piano, with back to the class, yet know everything going on in the class, who was not singing and who was not in his/her chair. “Pat, get back to your seat and sing!”
Those of you who were in Band remember B.Y. Dickinson and Mr. Pauly. Mr. Pauly left Del Rio for Seattle where his brother lived. I learned that Mr. Pauly died a few years ago, and he was as well liked in his new home as he was in Del Rio. Many condolences were posted on the internet from those who knew him and remembered him from his days in Del Rio.
My fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Elizabeth Nixon, now Mrs. Daugherty, Bill Nixon’s mother. She was probably the brightest teacher I ever had. Mrs. Barnett was our math teacher, and she was good! Mrs. Sultenfuss was our geography and social studies teacher, and she had the ability to intimidate any student ‘acting up’ with hand on hips, leaning forward, and her stare.
From junior high school I would like to mention two teachers who were very important to me: Mrs. Bochat and Mr. Rodriguez. Mrs. Bochat was a wonderful lady and teacher, and Mr. Rodriguez was very professional in demeanor and in dress. He always wore a three piece suit, and he took his teaching duties very seriously.
I regret that I never told them personally how much I appreciated them as teachers and I thank you for allowing me to express it now. I did love them.