Elmina Williams Engel

Honored by:Maurice Farrier
Brick location:E:19  map

Many people would cite their mother as the woman having had the most influence in their lives. She read to us as young children and was widely read herself; though completing only the eighth grade.

A farmer's wife she always thought there somehow would be money for higher education for us. And there was - with the suggestions and help of many people and her help as a weekly laundress. Academically though a one-room country school teacher instilled the love of learning and the satisfaction of problem-solving in me.

Time and again in my professional writing and in the reviewing of others' papers I would smile to myself with the realization that Mrs. Williams taught me that rule or grammatical construction with the reason that it was correct. We diagrammed sentences and accounted for the correct use of each word. And she brought more and more complex sentences until there was no fear of any.

One just worked systematically and patiently until the problem was solved. That same spirit was applied to solving mathematical word problems and all life's problems. Solutions might be difficult but patient disciplined thought and work would solve most of them - leaving a quiet inner glow. At Indian Creek No. 2 almost every day there would be an example that reminded one what was learned today would be needed to solve a problem tomorrow. Learning was serious and important but it also was quiet pleasant satisfying fun. Her signature on one's report card was an inspiration in handwriting and a reminder not to be discouraged by hard work and a failure or two.

Much later in life when I visited with her we both marveled at the educational success of many of those fellow students. Every holiday season since that meeting I have written to tell her of specific instances of how her teaching had helped me during that year. That is the least I can do until the holiday comes that my letter is returned unopened.