Buddy and Elizabeth Dulin Love Wylie Kids
Buddy and Elizabeth Dulin moved to Abilene in 1997, and as luck would have it, they settled right in the heart of Wylie.
Now, almost 20 years later, they have become such an important part of the Wylie community that they will be inducted into the Wylie Hall of Honor at Homecoming.
“They retired here and made Wylie their home,” Coach Hugh Sandifer said of the Dulins. “Whatever it was, basketball, football, band, one-act play, the Dulins were there. They are very well respected and loved in this district.”
Buddy, who passed away in April, was raised in Colorado City and worked his way through college at McMurry University, where he played baseball and ran track.
“His family didn’t have money to send him to school, so he worked as a custodian at Bowie Elementary, and then he worked in the cafeteria at McMurry so he could go to school,” Elizabeth said.
Buddy was hired to coach and teach math at Albany, where he stayed for 21 years, eventually moving to Junior High principal and superintendent. While he was superintendent in Albany, the superintendent of the Hamby school district set him up with a good friend, Elizabeth Henning, who grew up in Abilene, graduated from Abilene High School and was teaching in the AISD.
They married, and after seven years as Albany superintendent, they moved to Cameron, where Buddy was superintendent for 23 years.
He retired in 1997, and they decided to come back to Abilene. They settled in Wylie and became members of Oldham Lane Church of Christ.
“We read that it was a church that was started out of love,” Elizabeth said. “It continues to be.”
Buddy, who had been a Lions Club member in his previous communities, joined the Wylie Lions Club and became active in helping the school district.
“I liked to go and help him,” Elizabeth said. “I went with him to gather food for Project Graduation.”
Although Buddy and Elizabeth helped in many ways, they were best known for their regular attendance at school functions.
“We were at all the school events – athletics, band,” Elizabeth said. “We went to all the basketball games at the Junior High.”
Sandifer said the Dulins rarely missed an event.
“We would have a 7th-grade C team game at 4 in the afternoon, and they were getting their hot dogs and heading to the bleachers,” Sandifer said. “People would ask me whose grandparents are they? All these kids were their grandkids. They loved being around kids. Wylie was a perfect fit for them.”
The Dulins never had children of their own; nevertheless, the shelves in their home are filled with pictures of children. They would hire students to mow their lawns or help in other ways, and they always supported the neighborhood children in their fundraising efforts.
“We’ve had a lot of dealings with a lot of these kids,” Elizabeth said. “They have to come in and get a bowl of ice cream before they get their money.”
The Dulins especially were close to J. Mike and Mia Hernandez, who lived in the neighborhood near them. The two Wylie siblings treat the elderly couple like grandparents, and the feeling is mutual.
“J. Mike and Mia came to us a couple of months ago at the basketball game and said, ‘We want to escort you to your car?’” Elizabeth remembers. “Can you imagine a high school kid saying something like that?”
The Dulins bought plenty of cookie dough and other fundraisers from the Hernandez children as well as other neighborhood kids. Elizabeth remembers her husband trying to get J. Mike to tell him his favorite flavor of cookie dough. J. Mike insisted he was just the salesman and that the Dulins should pick their own favorite.
“Buddy would always ask the kids what kind of cookies they liked before he bought the cookie dough,” Elizabeth said. “Buddy said, ‘you better tell me what kind of cookies you like because you might get some.’ ”
And sure enough, within days of the cookie dough delivery, Elizabeth had a hot batch of cookies was on the phone calling for Mia and J. Mike to come eat them. The Dulins had many such relationships with families and children in the Wylie community.
Elizabeth said she was just amazed and surprised when she heard that they had been chosen for the Hall of Honor.
“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “I’m just sorry that Buddy’s not here to enjoy it. He was a good role model, and his students still love and respect him.”
Farr Lived His Whole Life In Wylie
You don’t have to go far to see how J.A. Farr Jr. contributed to the Wylie community.
The original part of the First Christian Church across the street from the Wylie Administration Building is his handy work as is the old gym at the corner of Buffalo Gap and Antilley.
Farr, who died nearly 20 years ago, spent his entire life working and volunteering in the Wylie community and because of that he will be inducted into the Wylie Hall of Honor on Sept. 23.
“It really made me feel good that they wanted to honor Dad,” said Larry Farr, J.A.’s son. “He was a Bulldog through and through. He loved Wylie.”
J.A. Farr Jr.’s dad settled in the Wylie area in the early 1900s and bought pieces of land along Buffalo Gap Road. J.A. grew up on a farm where the fire department on Buffalo Gap Road is now.
He went to school and played sports at Wylie and graduated in 1935. Mary Louise Howard from Buffalo Gap also went to Wylie, and the two married on Dec. 29, 1939. J.A. farmed on family land right in the heart of the Wylie area.
When World War II came along, he was recruited to help build Camp Barkeley, an Army base near where Dyess is now.
“He and some of the other farmers built Camp Barkeley,” Larry said. “They also ran freight from the railhead to Camp Barkeley to keep them stocked.”
J.A. also stepped up to help the school district during the war. Larry says the students still wanted to have a football team, so his father volunteered to coach them. He coached the team for two years and was coach of Wylie’s first-ever 11-man team in 1945.
He continued to be a huge supporter of Wylie football his whole life.
“On Fridays during football season, it was understood that I was to get my work done before the game,” Larry said. “He never missed a football game. He was always down on the sideline.”
After the war, when Camp Barkeley closed, Larry was among a group of Wylie men who helped move one of the old barracks to the corner of Buffalo Gap and Antilley. They rebuilt it, and it became the Wylie gym. The building still serves as the Early Childhood Center gym today.
J.A. and his family also were members of Wylie United Methodist Church, which at that time met in a building across from the school on Buffalo Gap Road. When that church burned, J.A. volunteered to rebuild.
“He donated all his labor to get that church built, and he was so excited about building it,” said his daughter Linda Louise Cheek.
J.A. and Mary Louise raised their two children in a small house across from Mesa Springs until J.A. built a new home right next door in 1954.
J.A. served on the Wylie school board in the 1950s, and he and Mary Louise helped start the very first Wylie band. Linda remembers she was in about 5th-grade at Wylie at the time.
“They got together with two other couples and started the band,” she said. “We had kids all ages up to High School. I was a member of the first band.”
J.A. continued to farm, but he also ran a diary, built houses and was part owner in a lumber company.
He also was a football referee.
“He refereed a lot of games,” Larry said. “During the time that he refereed, they went from blowing horns to blowing a whistle.”
J.A. continued to support Wylie even after his children had graduated and started their own lives.
“He would always be around the field house,” Coach Hugh Sandifer said. “He was always a great guy to be around and was a big part of the Wylie Community.”
J.A. had a stroke about 20 years ago, sitting in his chair in his home on Buffalo Gap Road. He passed away, and now Larry and his wife live in the home.
Larry said he remembers his dad’s work ethic above all else.
“He never backed off from hard work,” Larry said. “He expected nothing but the best. And he was one to always help everybody. He helped out a lot of people around here, but then everybody else did too.”
Linda said she remembers how much her father loved his children.
He loved us so much,” she said. “He was always surprising us with little things. And he loved Wylie.
Pat Penick Going Into Hall of Honor
Pat Penick, a beloved – and somewhat feared – former Wylie teacher and basketball coach, was selected for the Wylie Hall of Honor in her first year of eligibility, just two months after retiring from the Wylie ISD.
Penick joins community members J.A. Farr and Buddy and Elizabeth Dulin in the hall’s Class of 2016.
“She was a phenomenal teacher,” said Wylie English teacher Melinda Bacon, who played basketball for Penick, had her as an English teacher and then later taught along side her. “The reason I know grammar as much as I do is because of her. She always set high expectations on the court and in the classroom.”
Penick came to Wylie in 1995 and taught Honors English (now AP English) to freshmen and juniors. She also coached women’s basketball, among other sports, and she led the Wylie Lady Bulldogs to a state championship in 1990.
She is probably best known by teachers and students alike for the way she could express herself simply by raising one eyebrow.
“Nobody wanted to get the eyebrow,” said Wylie High teacher Eric Thaxton. “I can’t tell you how many times I got it. It would quiet a room.”
Carlie Fehl, an ’09 Wylie grad, was inspired by Penick to become a teacher and is now taking Penick’s spot in the Wylie English Department. She said most students feared Penick’s quiet, stern demeanor during freshman AP English.
“She scared me my first year,” Fehl said. “I tried to sink into the back of my seat. She would give you this eyebrow look – like is that really your answer? She had a presence.
If you could make it through her freshmen class, you could make it through anything.” Fehl said Penick was a little different with her junior students.
“If you stuck it out your freshman year and came back your junior year, it was totally different,” she said. “You ended up loving her and having eternal respect.”
When Fehl had to write a college paper on someone who inspired her, she wrote about Penick. Then, when Fehl had to observe a teacher as part of her college work, she got to observe Penick.
Bacon played on Penick’s basketball team that won the state championship in 1990.
“She was tough and very structured,” Bacon said. “We had a lot of respect for her. We knew what she expected. She was not a yeller or screamer. If you messed up, you didn’t look over at the bench. She would raise that eyebrow.”
Penick stepped down from coaching after 10 years and a state championship because she said “it was time.” But she continued teaching her English classes.
“I loved teaching,” she said. “I had a great passion for it. I liked that I had freshmen and started them down the road, and I got quite a few of them back during their junior year.”
Penick was, and still is, a woman of few words. She is a very private person who rarely spoke about her life outside the classroom.
“You never knew about her home life,” Fehl said. “Everyone just thought she lived at the school. She always gave us back our papers the very next day. It was just amazing.”
Thaxton said Penick has always shunned honors.
“I never in 22 years saw her accept an honor,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times she was nominated for teaching honors. She always declined. She wasn’t about the honors. She was about doing the work – that was what was important. She did not want any recognition.”
She ended her 27-year career at Wylie this May with little fanfare, retiring after school was over without any celebrations or parties.
“It was time,” she said. “It was 27 years and that was enough.”
Thaxton said no one is more deserving of a spot in Wylie’s Hall of Honor.
“She demanded excellence,” he said. “Her students respected her so much that they rose to that level. Freshmen year, they were scared to death, but by junior year, they realized that she had a very sharp, dry sense of humor.”
He said she didn’t need to say much because her actions, and her eyebrow said it all.
“She is the epitome of leading by example,” he said. “She influenced so many generations. How many former students are successes today because of her? This is an honor well deserved.”