Some of Gainesville best educators and former students were honored at the annual Gainesville Independent School District Alumni and Educator Hall of Fame luncheon Friday at Whaley Memorial Methodist Church.
Since 2004, the Gainesville High School Alumni Association has selected alumni to honor for induction into the Hall of Fame, and in 2005 the group added Education Hall of Fame honorees.
This year’s group of outstanding educators included a former elementary school music teacher (Jayne Austin), GISD business manager (Vernon Austin), GHS principal (Jim Campbell) and school board president (Leo Swick).
Four distinguished former students were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. The group included Dr. Joseph Rosenstein (Class of 1936), Chuck Curtis (Class of 1953), Tommy James (Class of 1966) and Dr. Alan Raines (Class of 1984).
Each honoree was introduced by a presenter, who spoke a little about the impact the honoree has had since attending school or working in the GISD.
The following are excerpts of each presentation.
(presented by Susan Beall)
You could easily call Jayne Austin a “local girl,” although she was born in Durant and walked up the same hill to school from first grade until she got her master’s degree.
At the top of that hill was Southeaster Oklahoma State University, where she got her music education and met the man of her dreams.
If you think those old-fashioned romantic musicals with Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy struck happy notes, you should have been in Durant in the late 1940s, when the latest Gilbert and Sullivan opera featured an equally dynamic musical duo.
Jayne sang with a co-star named Marcus Austin. They were friends throughout college, but she was wearing the ring of another young man. Sounds like a Jeannette and Nelson movie development, doesn’t it?
The two struck happy and loving notes together and it wasn’t long before Jayne was wearing Marcus’ ring.
The rest, shall we say, is music history – practically every last of it in Gainesville.
They signed the most unique teaching contract in GISD history in 1952. Marcus not only had to direct the bands from fourth grade to high school, he also took on the Gainesville Community Circus Band. Jayne was required to teach music in grade school and play the calliope.
Jayne’s father was heard to remark, “We spent a fortune on music education for you, and you wind up in the circus!”
She has been a “local” Gainesville girl ever since. All told – locally – Jayne has struck a ton of musical notes:
She organized the first civic choir…arranged the music numbers – and painted all the faces – for many Kiwanis/Rotary minstrels…taught music at four different schools… taught private piano or voice lessons to many students…supervised the music production at somewhere between 10,000 and 10 million PTA plays…and served 39 years as a counselor at Camp Sweeney.
It wouldn’t be much of a gamble to guess that everyone here today has been present for the not one, but many events, where they heard Jayne Austin sing, play the piano – or even the calliope.
Of her calling, Jayne now says: “I taught children to love music. That’s something they’ll appreciate all their lives.”
Our local girl has made good. Congratulations, Jayne! And thanks for all those high notes, which continue today.
(presented by Carol Ann Hess)
Vernon Austin was born on a farm east of town, but wound up graduating from high school in Thackerville. Throughout his professional life, it’s safe to say he was – and still is - all Gainesville. He earned an associate arts degree from Gainesville Junior College and a bachelor’s of business administration from North Texas. He also holds masters degrees in school administration and psychology.
He married Naomi in 1951.
Mr. Austin worked with his father-in-law in the feed store and farm supply business before getting into education. He set up the very first Distributive Education program at GHS. That was in 1958 The first year he placed 25 students into jobs with downtown merchants. They earned both class credit and hourly wages. And DE grew to involve many more students in work places over the years.
He had played basketball for the Gainesville Lions and soon became a basketball referee. That wasn’t all, either.
Over 32 years in GISD, Vernon Austin served the kids he loved in a variety of ways. And they included:
• Service as the PA announcer at Leeper Stadium – remember that place? – for 10 years.
• Service as a high school guidance counselor, advising students about everything from test scores, class standing and college options – and other things as well, as many of us can attest.
• Service as assistant school superintendent for business affairs, a job that enabled him to find ways to buy new band uniforms or purchase paint and supplies so the coaches could remodel the locker room themselves during a tight budget year.
• He rode the buses with young African American kids for their first days in classes at elementary schools during integration – a change that went smoothly in Gainesville because of local leadership.
What does he say about his years in education? Let me quote him: “I like anything that puts me with people. A life is pretty dismal is you don’t put people in it.”
Mr. Austin has helped people all around Gainesville for many decades now. He’s still at it as a volunteer at the hospital.
(presented by Gordon Smith, Jr.)
There are still a number of people around Gainesville who remember Jim Campbell as the principal of Gainesville High School. He was known to refer to GHS as “my school.”
While on the job he held longer than anyone in history, Mr. Campbell was known to be a complex man with a big heart…who took serious the urgent and the trivial. He made the rules, stuck to them, and was never reserved in their enforcement.
He believed in firmness and discipline – not meanness and hatefulness, which were two characteristics he never tolerated from anyone.
He was “Mr. Campbell,” “Coach Campbell” - he even coached Chuck Curtis – and to some, he was just plain “Jim,” “Jimmy” or “the Big Bird.”
He was a former orphans’ home resident…which made him sensitive to the neediest students. He was an encourager…good-humored….loyal…and never held a grudge. He courageously stood firm on his turf – and that’s important in education.
His “territory” included practically every school event he attended, even if they were held at “far-away” places such as Paris, Sulphur Springs, Vernon and Austin. His positive influence had an effect on countless individuals…including the grade school boys who went out for football after school from the 1950s onward.
Jim was the first-ever camp director for Camp Sweeney and served in that position for 37 years.
He got Gainesville through the painful years of integration with a thoughtful plan that kept the school in strong order – especially when compared to many other towns. He worked with other civic leaders the same way a quarterback works with a winning football team that scores the great victory.
Jim Campbell was a great leader and educator, and a great friend to many, many others.
(presented by Doug Lillard)
Over his family’s years in Gainesville, this Ohio native used his assertiveness, common sense and just plain “Yankee” smarts to pioneer many long-lasting policies and institutions – all of which improved this community’s quality of life.
Before Leo Swick and his wife Margaret came here they were no music and art teachers. Their advocacy had great results. They brought here many GISD Hall of Fame members from music education.
As a school board member, Leo also helped to hire the first art teacher at GHS…and a band director who traveled the elementary school circuit after his rounds at the high school and junior high. And Marcus Austin led the Community Circus band as well.
The man we came to know as “Leo” was undoubtedly the strongest influence in bringing National Supply to Gainesville in 1953 when he served as Chamber of Commerce President. When Ardmore civic leaders asked the National folks why they chose Gainesville over Ardmore, they answered in two words: “Leo Swick.”
Leo knew that the folks from Ohio who decided to bring National here would expect amenities like a golf course.
So Leo personally led the campaign to raise $15,000 to build the first nine holes. He kicked in 500 bucks himself. He wanted everyone to be able to afford the green fees…so he made sure it was a municipally-run operation, which would be less expensive than a course run on a country club budget.
You see, Leo did those little things well – just as he did the big things, such as his leadership in the $1.5 million bond election back in the 1950s. The money was used to build the new high school…and about 150,000 was used to move the “junior college” out to Bonner Hill.
Do you all realize that many in Gainesville thought that this move would cause the 150 students to go elsewhere? Imagine that! Now there are more than 9,000 enrolled, and it’s growing.
Leo Swick’s leadership began in Gainesville in the mid-1940s after World War II. The fruits of his labors – which were shared by many, many other leaders – still ripen the vines of education and the local economy to this day.
Dr. Joseph Rosenstein
(presented by Joe Leonard, Jr.)
Joseph Rosenstein was born Sept. 29, 1919 in Gainesville and graduated as salutatorian from Gainesville High School (in just three years) in 1936. He went on to receive a B.A. degreen in Political Science from the University of Chicago, a M.A. degree in sociology from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D in sociology and political science from the University of Chicago.
In 1941 he was drafted into military service as a private and assigned to horse-drawn field artillery. He was admitted to officer candidate school at Fort Sill and later was assigned to division artillery combat batallion where he served as HQ company CO. He saw combat in Germany, but was later transferred to the Office of Military Government for Bavaria where his main assignment was a top-secret project involving the transfer of German rocket scientists and their families to the U.S. He retired as a Major.
After his return from German in 1946, he was married and completed his graduate work. He returned to Dallas in 1948 and went to work for the Pollock Paper Co. where he ultimately became a vice-president. Pollack was purchased by St. Regis Paper Co.
He took early retirement from the paper business in 1978 and joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Arlington where he took a tenure track position. He retired in 1992 but continued his research activities for another 15 years and was named Professor Emeritus.
He was active in a number of Dallas organizations. He was president of Temple Emanu-El, the second largest Reform Jewish congregation in the U.S. He is currently a member of Dallas Council of World Affairs among others.
He loves to travel and has visited all of the countries of Western Europe, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, India, Nepal, Japa, Thailand, Taiwan, and the principal countries of Central and South America.
(presented by Cliff Gibbs)
I think we accurately say that the Lord brought Chuck Curtis to Gainesville. It happened when his dad was called to be the pastor of First Assembly of God in 1951.
Everywhere Chuck went he was a winner. He went to TCU and became the starting quarterback. What a career he had! The 1957 Cotton Bowl saw the Horned Frogs beat Syracuse and a backfield start named Jim Brown by 28 to 27.
Chuck scored one TD and threw for two more.
Chuck kept distinguishing himself on the football field…he was drafted by the New York Giants but played fro Winnipeg in Canada before becoming the first ever Canadian pro to be traded to the NFL … TO THE GIANTS.
You may have heard of the assistant coaches who were there at the time …Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. Probably some of their coaching rubbed off on the Gainesville boy.
He spent a couple of years in the pros before turning to coaching himself. The record shows he’s the only Texas high school coach in history to win THREE STRAIGHT STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS – in two different classifications. One at 2A Jacksboro and two at 4A Garland.
Then he went to SMU as an assistant under Hayden Fry. Chuck knew talent when he saw it and recommended that SMU recruit Jerry LeVias…the first African-American scholarship athlete in Southwest Conference history.
Overall, Chuck’s Texas high school won-lost record is 135 wins, 41 losses and 3 ties. Not many can beat that winning percentage like that.
As Chuck puts it, “The Good Lord has sure been good to me.”
He also has been a rancher and a salesman for Red Chain Feed…and plays upright bass in a cowboy band that includes alumni from Bob Wills, Patsy Cline and Buddy Holly.
He now holds the record for Hall of Fame inductions. He’s in the Oil Bowl Hall of Fame…the Texas Sports Hall of Fame…the TCU Hall of Fame…and the Society of Country and Western Music Hall of Fame in Fort Worth.
(presented by George Bryant)
The Tommy James of Gainesville is not to be confused with Tommy James and the Shondells. That OTHER Tommy James – the one with the Shondells – may have had some million sellers, but OUR Tommy James has transported some million-pounders.
This low-key business entrepreneur calls himself “an oil field brat” who was born in Kilgore, but moved to Gainesville when his dad, Bruce, was transferred here. Tommy developed a strong work ethic. He always worked after school, while in the Class of 1966.
Who would have thought that the same fellow who delivered mums and roses for Audrey’s Flowers would one day move one of Columbus’ ships from Corpus Christi to Dallas?
Well, OK, it was a replica of the ship. But even replicas are hard to move, and Tommy and Lone Star Transportation proved they could do the job back in the 1990s.
He studied to be an engineer and soon thought he could go into business for himself…the heavy-haul business.
In 1988, Lone Star had three terminals. But soon Tommy and his two partners grew to 22 full-service terminals, some located as far away as Houston. The company’s work force reached almost 500 and its revenues soared in the nine digits.
Lone Star flourished after the transportation industry was deregulated. It hauled heavy equipment, specialty pipe and large machinery. You’ve seen those signs that say Oversize load? That easily could be a Lone Star haul…maybe even a super-heavy load of up to one million pounds…traveling about 5 or 10 miles per hour…maybe in front of our fast vehicles.
Many of his early customers were from Gainesville, a fact Tommy has never forgotten. He has given back to his community…having served as a Sunday school teacher at First United Methodist…and led numerous mission trips to here and yon. He now serves as president of the Gainesville Economic Development Foundation.
He said he was particularly inspired by the Rex Wagoner, an algebra and plain geometry teacher, and Tom Trietsch, who taught mechanical drawing.
Dr. Alan Raines
(presented by DeAnn Wilson Muller
Alan Raines is one of those dedicated “music men” of Gainesville. Those named Austin and Wilson – I think I even know that one – are already in our Hall of Fame. Alan is from the Class of 1984. He was a band and choir member throughout middle school and high school – always taking the lead.
He led the band as a drum major…and played the lead in operettas at GHS. Who would have thought that Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music” and the tin man in “The Wiz” would become the holder of two master’s degrees and a doctorate – all in music disciplines.
…or that as director of choral activities at Baylor University would be the first person to conduct an Easter Sunday performance of Handel’s Messiah in China?
Yes, that Gainesville boy was leading the choir there.
This man who learned piano from Mrs. Baker and organ from Mrs. Tinsely started at SMU but “finished” at UCLA. He earned another degree from Rice. And Alan went many places before he “landed” in Waco. He has conducted 30 all-state and honor choirs and has given professional presentations in more than 35 states.
Dr. Raines’ professional engagements have taken him to Canada, Asia and all over Europe…with appearances in places like Moscow, London and South Korea. He’s an active arranger, with more than 20 publications in print – many of them performed by high school and college choirs throughout America.
Alan continues to serve in conducting capacities throughout the world…in Italy… Atlanta…Washington State…and the list continues to grow even larger. Yet, when you ask Alan about his success, he starts listing his teachers and counselors in Gainesville.
Charles Draper of the GISD Education Foundation welcomed the guests and talked of the importance of events such as Friday’s luncheon. GISD Superintendent Bill Gravitt then congratulated the honorees and told them that their achievements continue to inspire Gainesville students.
Tom Kennedy, the GHS Alumni Association president, acted as master of ceremonies and introduced each of the honorees.