Willie Way Neill

Honored by:John Pesek
Brick location:D:18  map

Neill, Willie Way, was our Miss Way, home room teacher, class advisor and high school principal to whom I, a bewildered twelve-year-old entering high school from a three-room "country school," became attached because she was always there when needed. She was one of four children; three daughters and a son born to Margaret Chamberlain Way and J. S. Way in Abeline, Texas on September 8, 1907. Her maternal grandfather was Dan Chamberlain a captain during the Civil War. When she was three the family moved almost 300 miles by covered wagon to Verdi (near my home) and attended a three teacher school through nine grades.

With help from her father and an older brother she and her mother and a sister moved to San Marcos some seventy miles away in 1922 so she could attend high school. There her mother operated a boarding house for girls and the two girls helped so they could enter college. Miss Way received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Southwest Texas Teachers College in 1927 with a major in mathematics the only woman of three and a minor in physical education the only woman in any of her P.E. classes. The Way women returned to the family now living in Jourdanton after her graduation and Miss Way began a three-year teaching career in Hondo teaching all high school mathematics and coaching all girls' sports. Like their mother, her two sisters also became school teachers.

In summer 1930 she did graduate work at Greeley Teachers College (Colorado) and in the fall of 1930 she began a thirteen-year career at Jourdanton High School where I encountered her in 1934. In addition to being the principal she was boys' counselor taught two courses of algebra and one of plane geometry coached boys' softball and all girls' athletics and sponsored the senior class the pep squad and the County Annual (yearbook). Miss Way married John Neill in 1942 while he was in the United States Army. She began a 26-year teaching career in the Harlandale school system in San Antonio, in 1943, retired in 1969 and moved back to Jourdanton. At Harlandale she was the Elementary Principal for two years but the rest she spent coaching winning girls' volleyball teams taught advanced mathematics sponsored the Student Council and the High School Annual and was president of the Teachers' Association. She has been a community leader in her retirement especially relishing 50 years of sponsoring the "Ole Fiddlers Contest" and activities in the Tri City Community Hospital Auxiliary. She is an avid bridge player entering a tournament about every two months. The Jourdanton Chamber of Commerce has honored her three times for dedicated service distinguished service and outstanding civic service by a senior citizen and the Texas Retired Teachers' Association conferred its Award of Distinction recognizing her dedicated service to education and to retired educators in Texas. Miss Way was any mentor opened my eyes to mathematics taught me how to play the game -- win or lose and inspired me to do my best. Besides no one could draw a more perfect free-hand circle on the chalkboard in geometry ! I remain deeply I grateful to her.

-John Pesek