Benold, Tippit, Williams, and on: Mrs. Smith knew them all
Laura Sue Smith has been around Georgetown long enough to know a few people. Chat with the eighty-one-year-old at her dining room table, surrounded by stacks of photo albums, Georgetown memorabilia, and her loveable dog, Rufus, and Laura Sue’s pride for Georgetown pours out.
Laura Sue has perhaps a unique connection to Georgetown ISD. She’s known every person for whom a Georgetown school is named. Well, almost everybody: “The only person that a school was named for that I did not know was George Washington Carver,” says Laura Sue. “He was before my time.”
When she was in first grade, Laura Sue was in Miss Annie Purl’s class (Purl Elementary). “I have happy memories of Miss Annie Purl. She encouraged us to read,” Laura Sue remembers. Every day Laura Sue went to school with a handkerchief pinned to her dress and a piece of fruit in her hand, ready to sit in a circle with her classmates and eat a morning snack. When it was lunchtime, children who lived in town walked home to eat.
“Georgetown was a small town at one time,” Laura Sue says. That small-town feel carried over into her teen years when she attended Georgetown High School, at what is now Williams Elementary, in the late 1940s. “Everette ‘Pop’ Williams was my high school principal. He had the ‘Pop Williams and the Lazy River Boys band. They played for all of our assemblies,” Laura Sue says.
A principal who performed for his students? “That’s the way Pop Williams was,” Laura Sue explains. “He was interested in us, and we all did things together.”
After graduating in 1950, Laura Sue began a degree in home economics at Southwestern University, eventually graduating in 1970 from the University of Texas with a degree in vocational home economics after her last child started school.
Laura Sue applied for a teaching job in Georgetown. Her interviewer was GISD Superintendent Jack Frost (Frost Elementary), a familiar face in a town where “everybody knew everybody.” She taught at Georgetown Junior High School for a few years before moving over to the “new” Georgetown High School in 1975.
Laura Sue taught CVAE—Coordinated Vocational Academic Education. For twenty years, she shared the secrets, artistry, and science behind preparing and serving food with her students. During that time, Laura Sue worked alongside Dell Pickett (Pickett Elementary), Raye McCoy (McCoy Elementary), James Tippit (Tippit Middle School), and Chip Richarte (Richarte High School). Teaching during the same period were Joann Ford (Ford Elementary), James Mitchell (Mitchell Elementary), and Pat Cooper (Cooper Elementary). Laura Sue knew them all but never taught with them.
“Knowing all these people has enriched my life,” says Laura Sue. “Everybody you know enhances you in some way. It’s made me what I am today.”
Even outside the school setting, Laura Sue’s connections in the community ran deep. Charles Forbes (Forbes Middle School) and his wife hosted a rehearsal dinner for Laura Sue and her soon-to-be husband before their wedding in 1953. Later, Dr. Douglas Benold (Benold Middle School) treated Laura Sue for many years.
And what about naming a school after her? “I would consider it a great honor, but there are other people that are much more worthy,” Laura Sue replies.
By the time Laura Sue retired from Georgetown ISD in 1996, the teachers whose names graced the schools around town had left teaching. And her ties to the Georgetown ISD extend to the present, too. In May 2016, Laura Sue’s granddaughter, Lauren, will be the fourth generation of the family to graduate from Georgetown High School.