Miss Bledsoe

 

Miss Sommerville

DHS TEACHERS REMEMBERED

 

 When I was a student at Denison High School many years ago, there were two teachers who, in my opinion, knew just about everything. They were two who helped mold my life and who helped me eventually decide that journalism was the career path that I would take and that I really did like history, especially of Denison and Texas.

Miss Elizabeth Bledsoe, who had the ability to make history come alive for thousands of Denison High School students during the 31 years she taught at Denison High School, died in 2001 at the age of 94. She was buried in Fairview Cemetery.

Miss Maggie Sommerville, who taught English and journalism and sponsored the Denison High Buzz and the Yellow Jacket yearbook for many years, also died in 2001 at the age of 99. She was buried beside her sister, Romie, in the Cherry Mound Cemetery.

Add those two ages together and thatís a lot of years-spent molding young minds.

When Miss Bledsoe died, I mentioned to a friend that I was going to her funeral. He immediately responded, "The Spanish Armada, 1588" and "Vote".

I looked at him blankly and he said "Miss Bledsoe always told us in class that those were the two things she wanted us to remember if we didnít remember anything else." I guess I had forgotten, but I do "vote".

Soon after Miss Bledsoe died, while I was working on a Denison Alumni Association project, Jay Watkins, said that he drove the car in which Miss Bledsoe rode in the Homecoming Parade a few years ago representing the Class of 1924 at Denison High School. As they went down Main Street he heard many shouts from those on the sidelines "Spanish Armada, 1588."  Iím sure that made her proud.

Miss Sommerville was sponsor of the yearbook and The Denison High Buzz page that appeared in The Denison Herald when I was in high school. Usually she was very patient with us as we worked hard most of the time to have a newsy, attractive Buzz page and an outstanding yearbook. Occasionally, however, she would lose that patience and put our accumulative noses to the grindstone.

Both Miss Sommerville and Miss Bledsoe were world travelers after they retired from teaching and they loved visiting all those exciting places they had taught students about for all those years, from around the world to Russia, Australia and most anywhere else a plane landed or a boat docked.

Both, along with at least three other teachers, attended class reunions every time they were invited when they were able to go. They were always excited about seeing their former students. And surprisingly enough, they remembered most of them and could call many by name. Their visits to class gatherings were always a highlight of the event.

Miss Sommerville and her sister, Romie, who died several years before Maggie, were both teachers, but while Maggie went to high school, Romie stayed with the first grade. She, too, was a very kind and patient teacher.

Denison has some excellent teachers today as evidenced by the Exemplary rating the district has received in recent years. But we had some excellent ones in my day too. The state ratings of today, however, were nonexistent back then.

Teachers have always been a devoted group of people who dedicate their lives to giving young people the start in life that will help them succeed.

I remember how impressed I was when Miss Bledsoe was awarded the Valley Forge Teachers Medal by Freedomís Foundation at Valley Forge. I thought that was quite appropriate for a teacher who was so involved in history.

From the long list of organizations that Miss Bledsoe belonged to, you could easily see where her interest in history was born. From the Real Granddaughters of the Confederacy to the Daughters of the American Revolution and Colonial Dames to the Daughters of the American Colonists and even the Daughters of the Pilgrims, Miss Bledsoe had to be a history teacher. Her ancestors had lived the history she taught. She even found time to work at the Denison Public Library to be near the books she loved so much and at Eisenhower Birthplace, where she could share some of her knowledge of history with people interested in hearing about Eisenhower as a Denison-born military general and as President of the United States.

I was fortunate enough to patronize the same beauty salon with these two outstanding teachers, where a good friend and classmate, Wanda Potts Ramey, was so special to all of us. Through the years I was able to keep up a friendship that became more than student and teacher. We became good friends and I will never forget either of them. - Donna Hunt

 

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