Wylie ISD Campus Namesakes
Wylie ISD has a strong sense of community and many community members have been pivotal in our District's development. To show our pride in our community, Wylie ISD has elected to name most of our campuses after influential and significant members of the Wylie community. Here are a few of their stories.
Bill F. Davis Intermediate (opened in August 2004)
The school is named for Bill F. Davis, who moved into the community in 1964 and was elected to the WISD board of trustees in 1968. He served as president from 1980-83. Mr. Davis was also appointed to the Birmingham Land Board in 1989 and served on it until his death in 2001. His wife, Mary, continues to reside in Wylie. They have three children; Lawrence Davis, Pam St. John and Richard Davis and eight grandchildren; Ryan, Katy and Drew St. John, Mackenzie, Cole, Ashton and Kennedy Davis and Walter Davis.
Cheri Cox Elementary (opened in August 2004)
The school is named in honor of Dr. Cheri Cox who came to WISD in 1982 as an elementary counselor, was promoted to assistant principal at Hartman Elementary in 1985, then was promoted to principal and served in that capacity until just prior to her death from cancer in 1993. She received a Bachelor of Science from North Texas State University in 1971, a Master of Arts from Southern Methodist University in l973 and a Ph.D. from Texas Women’s University. She taught in the Dallas public schools from 1971 to 1981. She is survived by her husband Michael and two daughters, Caitlyn and Courtney.
Dr. Cox believed in students and the potential for them to become the best they could be. When promoted to principal at Hartman Elementary, Dr. Cox said, “While I have been at Hartman, I have come to admire the professionalism of the staff, the interest of the parents, and the enthusiasm of the students.” Dr. Cox was instrumental in helping Wylie ISD become the school district that it is today.
R.V. Groves Elementary (opened in August 2002)
This beautiful facility was named for Roddy V. Groves, a lifetime supporter of his public school system, and a Wylie businessman from the 1930s until his death in 1997. Mr. Groves influenced the lives of hundreds of young people through his support of the athletic and FFA programs. For years he provided animals to students who could not afford them for their FFA and agriculture projects. He also supported the WISD through his service on the school board from 1962 to 1966.
Mr. Groves positively impacted the community at large through his trucking business, farming operation, cattle ranch and cotton gin. He and his wife, Hazel, are survived by their son, Ronny Groves, and daughters, Mary Ann Nall and Wylie ISD teacher, Cindy Conoly.
Frank McMillan Junior High (opened August 2003)
This beautiful facility was named for Frank McMillan or “Mac” as he was known by his students and friends. Born in 1907 in Clear Lake, Texas, he spent 26 of his 40-year educational career in Wylie ISD. He earned both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree from East Texas State College and began his teaching career in 1925. He joined the Wylie ISD in 1939 as a mathematics and shop teacher. He later became principal of the T.F. Birmingham High School, where he remained until his retirement in 1965.
Besides his duties as principal, he taught math, mechanical drawing, agriculture, wood shop, metal shop and industrial arts. He coached football, baseball, track, boys and girls basketball and was an FFA sponsor. Mr. McMillan and his wife Katheryn Drake McMillan were long time members of the First Baptist Church of Wylie. He was a member of the 1953 Building Committee and taught a men’s Sunday school class for more than 30 years. A Scoutmaster, he served on the Wylie Planning and Zoning Commission, and was a Master Mason for 53 years.
He and his wife are survived by their two children, Howard Franklin McMillan and Patsy Jo McMillan, four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
R.C. Dodd Elementary (opened in August1999)
Named for R.C. Dodd, a lifetime educator who spend most of his professional career in Wylie.
He was employed by Wylie ISD in 1953 as a coach and in 1956 was named principal of Wylie Junior High School, a position he held until his death in 1976.
Mr. Dodd was known throughout the community as a man who genuinely cared about young people and had a remarkable influence on hundreds of lives. Additionally, Mr. Dodd served two terms on the Wylie City Council, was elected mayor of Wylie and served as president of the Wylie Chamber of Commerce and Wylie Lions Club.
He and his wife, Geline, who retired in 1997 after a 47-year teaching career, were active members of the Church of Christ. A.L.
Draper Intermediate (opened in August 2007)
Albert L. (Al) Draper was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1938. He has been married to his wife, the former Linda Burgess for 47 years. They have two children and four grandchildren.
Dr. Draper received a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Texas at Houston, graduating with a major in speech and political science. He earned a Master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Covington Theological Seminary in Rossville, GA. Dr. Draper began his career in ministry in and around the Houston, Texas area. In 1969, he became the pastor for the First Baptist Church of Wylie and remained its spiritual leader until his retirement in 2005.
Besides his many responsibilities as pastor, Dr. Draper participated in and served on many committees and offices for both the Collin and Denton Baptist Associations. He preached Evangelistic Crusade in Victry, France, visited the Holy Land twice and conducted various revivals and missions trips.
During the past two decades, Dr. Draper, also served in various capacities on area civic groups including the Wylie Lion’s Club, Wylie Chamber of Commerce, the Wylie Ministerial Alliance, WISD Citizens Advisory Committee, City of Wylie Parks and Recreations Board and Christian Care Center. He was named Wylie Area Citizen of the Year in 1980 and Volunteer of the Year in 1981. The Texas House of Representatives named him “Pastor of the Day” on July 7, 2003. Dr. Draper also served as captain of the United Way Fund and chaplain for the Wylie Fire and Police Departments.
Rita G. Smith Elementary (opened August 2007)
Rita Gallagher Smith was born July 20, 1918 just three blocks from where she lived until her passing in 2011. She attended Wylie schools and graduated from Ursuline Academy in Dallas, Texas in 1935. She was married to Truett Smith until his death in 1992.
Mrs. Smith owned and operated her family’s business, Wylie Insurance Agency, until her retirement in 1983. She was the first woman board member of the First State Bank of Wylie, the North Texas Municipal Water District and the building committee for St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. When her husband passed away, she stepped into his role as owner and publisher of The Wylie News.
Always active in the community, Mrs. Smith has also served in many civic and community organizations. But it was the love of books that led her to co-found the Wylie Book Club and organized the original Wylie Public Library. In 1984, she and her husband donated the funds for a new library which now bears their names.
Mrs. Smith provided a generous scholarship each year to a graduating Wylie student. She was a mentor at Dodd and Birmingham Elementary and was recognized by Ursuline Academy with the Distinguished Alumna Award in 2003.
For more than 60 years, Mrs. Smith was revered as the matriarch of Wylie. She was named 2004 Wylie’s Citizen of the Year and was named a 2005 Living Legend by Collin County Community College.
Raymond B. Cooper Junior High (opened in August 2006)
Raymond B. Cooper was born May 1, 1932 to W. B. Boone and Mabel Axe Cooper; the youngest of twelve children. He has been married to his wife, Sue, for 60 years. (1952)
Mr. Cooper founded Universal Transformer Company in 1957 and it was located in Wylie for 45 years. He has served on numerous committees and boards including the Wylie Lions Club and the Wylie Chamber of Commerce. He is a Director on the North Texas Municipal Water District Board and President of the Wylie Christian Care Center Board. He was named Citizen of the Year by the Wylie Chamber of Commerce in 1988 and 2003. He was named, in 2006, one of Collin County Community College’s (now Collin College) “Living Legends.”
During the last decade, Mr. Cooper has dedicated most of his time to the Wylie Christian Care Center. He originally donated the land and organized volunteers to construct the center's first building which was located on Ballard Avenue. In 2011, the center opened a warehouse located next to the original center. The Christian Care Center has helped hundreds of families in the surrounding area with food, clothing and utility assistance. Mr. Cooper is active in the fundraising efforts of not only the Care Center but in several non-profit organizations.
Mr. and Mrs. Cooper have three children; Jan Cooper Morgan, Christian Anderson Cooper and Mark Edward Cooper and have seven grandchildren.
Don Whitt Elementary (opened in August 2008)
Don Whitt was born in Muenster, Texas, June 22, 1937. After graduating from high school, he went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree and army commission from Texas A & M University. He received a Master’s degree from the University of North Texas in May 1959.
Mr. Whitt served in the U.S. Army after graduating and then entered the education profession, teaching agricultural sciences in Grapevine, Texas. In 1972, he became Superintendent of Schools for Wylie ISD where he served for 21 years. During his tenure, the district grew from 900 to 3,000 students.
Active in his profession on the state level, Mr. Whitt was a member of the Texas Association of School Administrators Executive Committee, University Interscholastic League (UIL) Legislative Council, Texas Association of School Boards Property and Casualty Board. He also served his community as a participant in the Wylie Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, City Parks and Recreation Board and St. Anthony Catholic Church.
Mr. Whitt and his wife, Gerry, have been married for 49 years. They have four children, Dan, Andrea, Carter and Doug; all are graduates of Wylie High School. The Whitt family continues to remain active in the community and school district. They support students in various ways including annual scholarships to graduating seniors and the Wylie Education Foundation.
Wally W. Watkins Elementary (opened in August 2010)
Wally W. Watkins was born January 28, 1937 to Wayne and Irene Watkins in Lavon, Texas. Known for his intellect and athletic prowess, Mr. Watkins was encouraged by R. F. Hartman to attend school in Wylie where he not only earned all-district honors in baseball, basketball and football, but graduated third in his class. He also received the Birmingham Scholarship as a senior in 1955.
Mr. Watkins graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science and immediately began teaching for Navasota ISD. He spent 13 years in Industrial ISD teaching, coaching, raising four children and found the time to earn his Master’s Degree from Texas A&M Commerce.
In 1975, Mr. Watkins was hired by Superintendent Don Whitt to be the principal at Hartman and later, Birmingham Elementary School. He became Wylie ISD’s first assistant superintendent in 1986 where he was tasked to not only oversee the planning for the rapidly growing school district, but managed the curriculum and personnel departments. Mr. Watkins was instrumental in developing technology programs in Wylie ISD including its first computer lab. In addition, he helped start the dyslexia program for Wylie students and hired the necessary personnel to oversee it.
Outside of his educational responsibilities, Mr. Watkins was an active member in the community, serving in many leadership roles including President of the Wylie Lions Club, President of the Collin County Welfare Board and a Master Mason. He was the first administrator from a small school district to be elected President of the North Texas Schoolmasters Club. He is an inductee of the Wylie Athletic Hall of Honor, has served on its nominating committee and remains active in the Wylie ISD and Community ISD Education Foundations.
Mr. Watkins retired from education in 1992 to the same farm he grew up on in Lavon. He and his wife, Nita, have been married for 54 years and have four children; Lisa, Staci, Jan and Scott, all graduates of Wylie High School. They have ten grandchildren.
Harry and Retha Tibbals Elementary (opened August 2005)
The Tibbals were involved in many facets of the community after moving to Wylie on June 1, 1961 to open Wylie Supermarket which they ran for more than 30 years. During that time the Tibbals gave a baseball diamond to the city park and their store sponsored a baseball team each year. Mr. Tibbals never missed a WISD FFA auction where he purchased animals to support the students and their efforts.
Mr. Tibbals, a charter member of the Wylie Chamber of Commerce was twice named Citizen of the Year by that organization, in 1990 and in 2003. He served on the Birmingham Land Board in the 1970s and was Mayor Pro Tem of Wylie from 1955 to 1970. He won the Mason’s Community Builder Award in 1998, and Wylie Supermarket was the Chamber Business of the Year. Mr. Tibbals has served as a deacon and the treasurer at First Baptist Church of Wylie and chairman of First National Bank of Sachse. He was a director of the Christian Care Center and president of the North Texas Municipal Water District in 1995-96
Harry Tibbals was also a founding director of the Wylie ISD Education Foundation and served as treasurer until his death in 2006. He and his wife Retha were members of the Steering Committee and established the foundation's first endowment fund in honor of their family which also funds scholarships for Wylie ISD graduating seniors.
Harry Tibbals lived a life worthy of respect, honor, and dignity. He touched many lives and made them better. Because of his tireless and generous efforts in turning the dream of a Wylie ISD Education Foundation into a reality, the foundation is proud to name The Tree of Honor and Knowledge for its wise and dear friend, Harry F. Tibbals, Jr.
Mrs. Tibbals remains active in the family’s endeavors. She was very involved with the lives of their four children-Fred, Michael, Phil and Sheila. She was also an active member of the Wylie Garden Club and remains involved in the Wylie Book Club. Mrs. Tibbals helped establish the Happy Circle group more than 30 years ago at the First Baptist Church of Wylie where she also taught Sunday School.
In 2002, Wylie ISD School Board and Administrators voted to rename Wylie Intermediate, Wylie Junior High and the old varsity football stadium. They became:
AB Harrison Intermediate
Albert Edward Harrison was born on December 31, 1919 in Sachse, Texas and died on December 30, 2001. He served for 40 years as a US Postal Rural Letter Carrier for Wylie and Blue Ridge, Texas. He was a World War II veteran who served in the South Pacific as a staff sergeant from 1942 until 1945, earning the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Badge and the Silver Star Medal.
He loved Wylie and served in many capacities including School Board Trustee from 1967 to 1971. He married Annie Sue Ellenburg in 1942. They had two daughters, Elaine and Anita, who both graduated from Wylie ISD.
Grady Burnett Junior High
Grady Burnett graduated from West Texas State College in 1951 and brought more than 13 years of education experience with him when he arrived in Wylie in 1964. He served as teacher and coach from 1964 to 1970. In January of 1970 he was named principal at Wylie High School where he served until his death in April 1980.
Dr. Jerry Shaffer Stadium
Jerry Shaffer came to Wylie in 1974 to teach and head coach the football team. He took the Pirates to several playoff appearances including the 1977 State Championship which they won. In 1987, he served as athletic director before moving to another district. He returned to Wylie ISD in 2008 to teach Physics and Advanced Sciences.