I knew time was short for Mr. Walters. I guess we are never fully prepared when a great person, in this case, a great man passes away.
I visited him at the Carriage House as often as I could. Went by last Thursday and again on Friday. I’ll get to that story shortly. During this writing, you will hear me refer to him as Mr. Walters. I just never could drop the Mr. from the name of a man I loved and respected so much.
Although he had been at Yantis before, I didn’t really get to know him until my junior year in high school when he came back to Yantis to teach and restart the Vocational Ag program. It’s difficult to realize that was 50 years ago.
I, and most of the high school students, took to him immediately. You know kids can spot a phony or someone that is sincere very quickly. It was apparent that Mr. Walters was the real deal. He was gentle, yet firm. He genuinely cared for every student. With that caring came a sense of responsibility that we had to him. If we got caught “clowning” you can bet your last dollar that you would get a stern talking to. The seat of my britches can attest (on 2 occasions) that the stern talking only went so far. As the E F Hutton commercial stated, “When Mr. Walters talked, you listened.” At least, you better listen.
Mr. Walters always called his students Brother ? or Sister ?. He had a tone about his salutation to you. Sometimes Brother George sounded pretty good. Other times, it didn’t sound that great. It was all in the tone of the delivery.
I remember one year he took us to the Ft. Worth Stock Show. They were having a tractor pull in the indoor arena. These tractors billowed black smoke. To alleviate the problem, they hooked up a “smoke eater” to the pulling sled. It worked great for the first half of the first tractor to pull. That tractor destroyed the smoke eater. It didn’t deter the pullers and it sure didn’t run us out of the building. Granted, it was like trying to watch a baseball game in a dense fog. As far as I know, none of us were permanently injured and no one had to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation. We had an amazing time.
I could go on for days with the stories of the adventures and fun times we had with Mr. Walters. The class of 1973 (my class) was the first one in the new AG building. He had that thing arranged in such a way that you could find anything and he expected it to stay that way. Mr. Walters would have thrown a fit if he had seen my shop now. Not a good fit but one of those “Brother George” moments.
I would see Mr. Walters at different sporting events over the years. Just a year or so ago, we sat together at a softball game at Alba-Golden watching his granddaughter “Bug” playing in the catcher position. Her name is Faith but giving a name to kids didn’t stop at the school grounds. Many of us knew his son, Mack, since he was a very young child in 1973. He had “Whistle” a few years after we had graduated. Yes, I said “Whistle.” That’s what he called her from day one. I truly did not know what her real name was until a few short years ago. By the way, it’s Judy. Sheri and Mr. Walters raised two fine children into outstanding adults. Mack is a little quiet. (Must have taken after his mother).
I could go on and on about the memories that came flooding back when I heard the news of his passing. One last one. It has to do with the “pants getting lit up” that I mentioned earlier. My dad had this rule. You get whipped at school, you got another when you got home. The first one Mr. Walters gave me, I wasn’t about to go home and tell dad. So I get home and act like nothing at all was different. He even asked how school was that day. I realize I was a dumb kid. Thought I was smart but really dumb as a brick. I told him everything went just fine. Dad could remove his belt faster than Matt Dillon could draw a gun. He already knew about the whipping. I asked Mr. Walters just a few years back about that. He said him and dad had “an arrangement.” If I got busted at school, the school (Mr. Walters) was to get his pound of flesh first, then call dad so he could make sure that it had been done properly. Boy, what a friend.
I did want to tell you about my visits last Thursday and Friday. I went on Thursday and he was in his wheelchair reading. He was reading something most every time I visited. As soon as I walked into the room I heard the familiar “Come on in, Brother George” He said, “I’ve got something for you.” He wheeled himself to the dressing table and picked up a small notepad. On it were several pages of questions. They were questions from the bible. We discussed them for a while and I told him I would have to study up and bring my thoughts back in a few days. Mack came in and the three of us had a great time. I left, telling Mr. Walters I’d be back the following week with the bible answers. I think he was testing me. He had me in enough classes in school to know I probably wouldn’t know the answer at that moment.
I drove straight back to the church and began studying to give him the answers. The very first question was one I had tried to answer. I thought it was the right answer. You recall on a test when you were positive that you had the answer right only to find out that NOOOO, it was 1000% wrong. At that moment I realized that I wasn’t waiting until next week to take the answers back. I finished the paper and could hardly wait to get back. I had some things that had to be done the next morning (July 22nd) so I didn’t get back to where he was until around 3 PM. He was in his wheelchair reading once again. He said, “Brother George, what are you doing?” I told him I came back with his answers and to disregard the verbal answer I gave him yesterday. He said he hoped I hadn’t made a special trip …. I told him no. He didn’t believe me but I never could put anything passed him.
He turned serious then and with tears streaming down his cheek he said, “Brother George, why am I still here?” That’s a question I get often from people who are ill and ready to go home to heaven. I gave him the answer that I guess God is just not finished with you. He didn’t realize it but he answered his own question within 30 seconds. He said, “There are two nurses that I’ve been talking to about Jesus. They listen but they just don’t get it.” My thoughts turned back 50 years. Mr. Walters was still teaching. This time it wasn’t welding, crafting, beef, or dairy cattle, it was something much more important. He was explaining to these two nurses the way to heaven.
Something was slightly different this visit. He didn’t complain but it did seem that he wasn’t feeling as well on Friday as he was on Thursday. You know how he was …. he loves to visit and it’s hard to leave. That’s how he was on Thursday. Friday we said our goodbyes. I certainly didn’t think this would be the last one. Mr. Walters took a turn for the worse later that night. I’m so glad that circumstances caused me to go back Friday. Judy sent me a message Saturday afternoon and said her dad wasn’t doing good at all. I asked about coming up but she said they had medicated him and he was sleeping. I awoke Sunday morning to a text with the sad news. “Dad passed away just after midnight.”
Below is something that you will want to read. Mr. Walters had told me that he had written it and that Mack or “Whistle” would give it to me at his death. At the time of this writing, I’m preparing to do Mr. Walter’s funeral tomorrow. I will read it in its entirety. I wanted to share it with you.
Tomorrow, I will be Saying Goodbye to a Dear Man, a Caring Man, and One That I Am Proud to Call My Friend. Today, Mr. Gerald Walters Is Reunited With His Beloved Sherry, In the Presence of the Lord. There He Will Dwell in the House of the Lord Forever. Amen
The Story of My Life.
I was born on a farm on a very cold and dreary night on January 13, 1939, just outside of Pickton, Texas.
My Father had to meet the doctor on Highway 11 due to us living on a rural muddy road.
Dr. Earl Sterling from Sulphur Springs delivered me at home between 2-3 o’clock in the early morning hours on Friday the 13th of January.
We lived at this location until I reached SEVEN years of age.
This location is about one to two miles south of the Como-Pickton school’s present location.
My family moved about two miles east of this location which was on a much better road for the school bus route.
My Father was working at a defense plant in Karnack, Texas. My mother and I lived with my grandmother Martin and her brother, uncle Dock Martin. My dad worked at this plant during World War Two.
When the war was over, my dad came home and continued his farming operation.
He raised truck crops, cotton, corn, hay crops, and ribbon cane for syrup. He also milked several cows and sold Grade B milk that was picked up by truck and delivered to the Carnation milk processing plant in Sulphur Springs, Texas.
He would keep the calves from the cows and raise them on the farm.
By the time I was three years of age, I would slip away from my mother and join the calves in their pen. I would play and visit with them until I would fall asleep with my head resting on one of the claves. I developed a love for livestock at a very young age and continued to love them until my death.
When I reached seven years of age, I started school at Pickton Elementary in September 1945 or 1946. My first-grade teacher was Mrs. Vera Card, a career teacher and this helped me to enjoy school. I had some very great dedicated teachers during my 12 years of school.
During my sixth grade, seventh grade, and eighth-grade years, my teachers would challenge a grade behind me or above me for a spelling or math contest between the classes. This helped me to learn those subjects better because I enjoyed the competition in the classes. I did not like getting beat and having to sit while the others performed.
Junior High would find us in competition meets with other Hopkins County Schools. We would play basketball, softball, and run track. We were a small school so we knew all of these students in these classes as well as those in the county schools.
We made lasting friendships with these students. We remain great friends with many of those students even during all of my adult years.
During High School, I took the usual classes.
I developed a love for Vocational Agriculture and the FFA organization. I did not care much for Algebra, but I did enjoy General Math as we studied in the 7th and 8th grades. I could relate to this math more because we used it every day. I played football, basketball, and ran track, and the FFA all of my High School years.
During my High School years, I served in the FFA as Greenhand President, and Chapter President for two years.
I received my Lone Star Farmer Degree at the State convention in Dallas, Texas. The Lone Star Degree is the highest degree that the State can confer to its students of Vocational Agriculture in Texas.
I also served as my class president for two years in high school. I was selected by my high school as Most Likely to Succeed in my Senior Year.
Selected Class Favorite one of those years.
I Remember graduation day in May 1957 very well. This was a sad day for me because I didn’t think that I was ready to leave home and the community of Pickton, Texas to seek my future in a new world.
I was awarded an Agriculture Scholarship from Paris Junior College if you could call it that. This scholarship paid for all of my expenses for college in exchange for me to work on the college farm. We would milk a great hear of registered Holstein cows, and those cows would give a lot of milk. There would be six students in a double three herringbone barn. Each student was responsible for the cow that was in his stall.
I met some great students while working on the college farm and we have remained close friends after all of these years.
Working in the dairy barn, and caring for dairy cows was just like home because I had worked in our dairy at home.
My dad established a new Grade A dairy barn in 1948. We also had two broiler houses where we would raise broilers to sell.
We would raise hay for the dairy cows, a lot of hay, cotton, corn, and ribbon cane for making syrup.
My mother and dad would always raise a large garden for using in the summer and process the food for canning and placing some of it in the deep freeze.
We had a large workhorse for working the garden and also for riding.
Late in the evening after milking, I would ride Champ down the road and enjoy the late evening. Champ and I became great friends. Champ seemed to enjoy the late afternoon trips as much as I did. He was a great horse.
During the summer of my junior year in high school, I worked for Taft Tinney in Winnsboro. We would deliver chicken feed and dairy feed to the producers in the area around Winnsboro and other places. I liked this job very much because I would meet many farmers and make new friends .. they were great farm people. I also worked for Taft Tinney after graduation from high school before enrolling in PJC in September. One of my favorite songs then, and still now, is the song “The Class of 1957.”
My brother Don was born when I was five years old and he has always been my little brother. I love him dearly because together we had a great childhood. We are still close, even today, but we do not get to visit as much as we should due to this fast-paced world that we live in today. He and Nancy have three children and seven grandchildren and they keep him busy working with them.
I haven’t mentioned my love for dogs. Since I was a very young child, I would have a dog that I loved. I have had several dogs during my life and I think that they have helped me become the person that I am today. When I would come home from work they would meet me with their tail wagging. They were ready to go to work here on the farm. They would stay with me until we would come home, no matter if it would be late at night. We Could understand each other and shared true love and friendship with each other. They were very forgiving and shared a very pure and honest love with me.
I have listed some of the awards and accomplishments in my life.
Taught school for 37 years.
I started my teaching at Scurry-Rosser high school on July 1, 1962. I taught Vocational Agriculture there for three years.
1965 I worked for Lamar Creamery in Sulphur Springs as a field man. I would run butter fat samples from the producer’s milk and visit the producer’s farms as well.
I worked there for one year and discovered that I needed to be back in school working with students. I missed them very much.
1966 I was offered a job teaching science at Yantis School. I taught Biology, General Science, and Chemistry in High school as well as teaching in Junior High.
In the second year at Yantis, I was offered the high school principal job along with teaching classes. Yantis was a small school with great country children that I could relate to. I worked there for three years.
1970 I was hired at my home school Como-Pickton as a high school science teacher and high school principal. This job kept me very busy. I would teach class in the morning and tend to principal business in the afternoon. I served there for two years and was very happy working in my home school.
1972 I was offered the Vocational Agriculture job at Yantis. I had to spend that year as the junior high principal because we did not have the Vo-AG building completed. That was fine because I got to work with some of those students that would help me build an agriculture program in Yantis. Yantis had to close their department earlier because of a lack of students in high school. They could only offer a three-quarter department from the State and the school decided that they could not fund the remainder of the money. Yantis was a very poor district at the time.
1973 We had the building completed and we were ready to start the agriculture program again. I worked there for eight years and they were very rewarding to me as well as to the students.
1981 I was offered the Vo-AG job at my home school, Como-Pickton, so naturally, I took the job.
I was living in the Pickton community which was about two miles from the school. I worked there for fifteen years and those years were very rewarding for me, as well as the students and the community.
We received many awards on the state and national levels while I was there.
1995 I had decided to retire from the school because of some problems with the Superintendent. She did not understand the Ag program and would not let me explain the program to her.
1996 July 1, I was hired as the principal at Yantis ISD. I had many jobs at the school, but I was happy to be back home in Yantis. I had many students that were the children that I had worked with when they were in school.
A Great job. I served as principal for five years.
In 2001, I decided to retire and come home to Nana so we could spend more time together. The last five years had kept me very busy all year, and I had not been able to spend as much time as I had wanted to with my family. I had a very great and rewarding career in the thirty-seven years that I had worked in a school. I met many lifelong friends from working in the school systems.
Some more of my important accomplishments in Life:
Accepted the Lord as my Savior when I was 12 or 13 years of age at Caney Baptist Church in Pickton, Texas.
Served as County-wide Baptist Training Service president during my senior year in high school.
Served as Greenhand chapter president during my freshman year in high school.
Served as President of the Pickton Future Chapter for two years during my junior and senior years in high school.
Served as president of my senior class.
Voted Most Likely to Succeed during my senior year.
Served as Class Favorite during my eighth grand and junior years in school.
Received my Lone Star Farmer Degree in the FFA during my junior year.
During my junior years at ETSU, I served in the FFA office as Treasurer.
Served as a Graduate assistant at ETSU during the year that I was working on my Master’s degree in 1962.
Received my Bachelor of Science from ETSU in 1962.
Received my Master of Education Degree from ETSU in 1963.
Received my first Vocational Agriculture teaching job at Scurry-Rosser ISD on July 1, 1962.
Received the honorary Chapter Farmer Degree from Area 6.
Received the honorary State Farmer Degree from the State of Texas.
Received the honorary American Farmer Degree from the National FFA Association in Kansas City, MO.
Received my wristwatch from the Texas FFA Association for teaching Vo-AG in Texas for 25 years.
Member of the Texas Vo-AG teachers for 26 Years.
Lifetime member of the Texas State Teachers Association.
Served as Vice-President and President of the Wood County Texas State Teachers Association.
Served as a member of the TSTA Executive Committee of the East Texas District for Two Years.
Served as a member of the Texas TSTA committee for two years …. Meeting each month in Austin at the TSTA headquarters in Austin, Texas.
During my 25-year tenure teaching Vocational Agriculture, we received some of the following honors and awards:
Received a State of Texas honorary FFA Degree.
One Student won the Western Region Dairy Proficiency Award in Kansas City, MO. We competed against three other students from the other three regions of the United States.
I have had 14 students receive the American Farmer Degree …. The highest award that a student can obtain in the FFA.
One student won the State Lone Star Farmer of Texas award … placing first out of 1050 applicants. This student competed for the Western Region Title and placed second in this contest. A boy from Oklahoma won the Western Region title. My student did a great job by getting this far in the competition.
Won the State of Texas in Forage production Proficiency award.
I had many of my students from Yantis and Como-Pickton receive the Lone Star degree—the highest award offered to students in Texas.
Several of my students won first place in the District and Area completion awards in FFA.
I Served as High School Principal and All-School Principal K-12 for a period of Ten Years.
February 2004 was appointed to serve on the Como-Pickton School Board and served for fifteen years. Served as Board Secretary and Board President during my tenure on the board.
Received the Maribeau Lamar metal from the Yantis Masonic Lodge.
Elected to the Pickton Water Board and served as Vice-President of the Water Board AND at the time of this writing, I am President of the Water System. I have served on this board for over twelve years.
I also served on the Brinker Water System Board for Eight Years before moving to Pickton.
Taught School for 37 years.
3 years at Scurry-Rosser … Scurry, Texas
17 years at Yantis ISD
17 years at Como-Pickton CISD
I met Sheri on a double date. My friend, Jerry Tom, was dating Sheri at the time. I was attending College at Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas. I had come home for the weekend and Jerry Tom asked if I would like to have a date on Saturday night.
I told him I did not have any plans and I would like to go on a double date. He stated that he would call Sheri and see if she could find one of her friends and we would go on a double date Saturday night.
I had seen Sheri running around in S.S. but she would not pay any attention to me because we were in an old vehicle and she was driving a new Desoto car that had air conditioning.
When Jerry Tom picked her up at her grandmother’s house in SS, that was the first time I officially got to meet Sheri. I noticed while we were on the date that I could feel a spark that I had not felt before. The girl that I was with was a very nice girl. I knew that it would be a one-time deal because I did not get to come home very often.
I could not get Sheri off my mind. I felt at that point that she was the one for me, but how would I ever get to see her again. She had just graduated from SS High School in May and that was early summer. I went back to Sam Houston but I could not get her off my mind.
That fall Sheri went to a business school in Dallas. Our paths DID NOT cross. I decided to come home to ETSU that fall and winter, but no Sheri. I went all that year without seeing her. Sheri and Jerry Tom had broken up when she went to Dallas.
Finally, during the next Summer, I was going back to school on a Sunday afternoon late and as I was driving thru SS I was looking for Sheri but as many times before, I did not find her.
I had a streak of good luck that afternoon because as I was going thru town I spotted her (in her car) at one of the drive-ins in town.
I was in luck and I turned my car around as fast as I could and went back to her car. We talked for a while and I asked her for a date the next weekend. She said, “OK.”
Our Heavenly Father knew all along that we were going to get together. He had selected us to be together before we were born.
Sheri and I developed a great relationship and I asked her to marry me. We got married on September 29, 1961, and that was the happiest day of my life.
We worked side by side all during our married life. Both of us were very happy and did a lot of traveling together. We visited all of the states in the US and almost all of them in Canada. I could not have asked for a better life.
Sheri was my best friend and after she died in May of 2019, life, for me has not been the same since. I struggle each day that I live now and think of Sheri every hour of each day that I live.
I guess that after 57 ½ years together, this has changed my life in a large way. We were like a team of horses working together and after one of the horses die, life is not the same for the other horse because they would miss each other so much also.
We were fortunate to have two children. A boy and a girl who we loved so very much. We were fortunate to watch them grow up and be responsible citizens of the community.
It seems to me that they grew too fast. One day they are babies and then they are ready to start to school. The next thing that we knew, the children were ready for junior high school. In a flash, they were seniors in high school and ready to graduate. Time seemed to move so fast and they were ready to get out on their own.
Mack got married first and after a while, a baby girl was born. Next Lucy and Luke came along and all of a sudden Sheri and I were grandparents.
Judy came along next and got married and soon they had a baby boy named Dakota.
Nana and I called him Charles. He is a great young man and still lives at home and helps babysit his young brother and sister.
Faith came along after Dakota and they lived close to us and we would see them almost every day. I named Faith “the bug.” She is such a sweet young lady.
Ryan and Jack came around much later. At the moment, Ryan is three and Jack has just had her second birthday.
Sheri and I were fortunate to have good health for many years, but time caught up with us. I have had two open heart surgeries and have developed Diabetes. Sheri developed pancreas cancer and it was found in August 2017 by Dr. Mark Armstrong.
We fought cancer very hard by Sheri taking many Chemo treatments as well as a seven-hour operation to remove the cancer.
Cancer won and she passed away on May 6, 2019. That was the saddest day of my life. We were a team that did things together.
She was the best wife that I could have ever had and now I am lost without her.
I loved her dearly with all of my heart and now my heart is broken. I hope to see her again when I get to Heaven because I know she is there now waiting for me.
I have enjoyed a great life living and working on a farm that I grew up on as a young boy. My passion was working with children and young folks in the classroom. Conducting field trips all the way from El Paso, Texas to Madison, Wisconsin. Kansas City, Missouri to Glenworth Ontario, Canada.
I Have been blessed and I could not ask for anything better in my life. I love all of my students that I have had in school. I enjoy visiting them now when I see them.
I have always liked cows and watching their babies running across the pasture with their tails high in the air and their mother running after them.
Thanks to all who have helped me down thru the years.
I love and respect each of you.
Goodbye to each of you.
One of the best men Carolyn and I have been lucky enough to know and call a friend. We and out families will miss him dearly.