Sue Humphrey was the first female principal in the Wylie school district, but that’s not why she is being inducted into the Wylie Hall of Honor.
Humphrey is being inducted because of her profound impact on the Butterfield School and the students who were educated there.
“She loved those kids at Butterfield,” said her daughter, Connie McCoy. “She taught there for 36 of her 38 years. She taught kids and their kids and their grandkids. She loved Butterfield.”
Humphrey was born in View but her dad moved his family around for work. She attended school at Wylie off and on during her childhood, and she graduated from Wylie in 1953.
She went to college at Hardin-Simmons University and graduated in just three years with a double major in history and English. She married her husband, Charles, shortly after and started her teaching career at Blackwell.
But after only one year, Humphrey got a job teaching 7th and 8th grade English at Butterfield, a small country school between View and Caps. At the time, Butterfield was part of the Taylor County School District.
Early in her career, Humphrey had to quit her job because of a difficult pregnancy, and she worked at Baird for a year until a position opened back up at Butterfield. She loved teaching.
“She had a real heart for it,” McCoy said. “It was so different back then. She trimmed kids’ bangs. She clothed them. It wasn’t just teaching. She would call the doctor and get them appointments. The stories she told – she should have written a book.”
McCoy said her mother cared about each child.
“She had a real heart for kids,” McCoy said. “She would say, ‘These kids might not be important to you, but they are somebody’s babies.’”
Humphrey wasn’t looking to get into administration, but when she was asked to be principal at Butterfield, she took the job.
“They just asked her to do that, and she did it,” said daughter Carolyn Gleason. “That’s what they wanted her to do. She probably opened doors she didn’t really know she opened. She opened pathways for other women.”
McCoy said her mother was always an independent woman and didn’t think much about working in male-dominated administration.
“I think mom was probably a feminist and didn’t know it,” McCoy said. “It was the job she was required to do, and she did it really, really well.”
Gleason said the men didn’t give her any trouble.
I don’t think it was as difficult as she thought it would be,” Gleason said. “They took her in as one of the guys.”
Butterfield consolidated with Wylie in 1978, and Stanley Whisenhunt, who was superintendent of Wylie at the time, said he never thought twice about keeping Humphrey as principal.
“She was the idea person to serve that school,” he said. “She knew everything that needed to be done. She did the job so well. She was a wonderful teacher, principal and individual. She was just the most considerate person you would ever meet. She was a great example for her students.”
Wylie Superintendent Joey Light, who was principal at Wylie Junior High when Humphrey was at Butterfield, said most people considered her a quiet, shy person, but he saw a different side of her on a trip to an administrator conference.
“She was a funny woman,” Light said. “She was just a wonderful person, and she was really funny. Most people would have never thought that about her. She was so unassuming. She would never say anything bad about anyone. She would just say, ‘My, my, my, my, my.’”
Bud and Jo Shelton, who are also members of the Hall of Honor, knew Humphrey very well. Mrs. Shelton worked in the Butterfield office for several years, and Mr. Shelton was superintendent at Wylie after Whisenhunt.
Mrs. Shelton said Humphrey was soft-spoken, which was perfect for working with young students.
“The kids just loved her,” she said. “She had a real soft voice. She did her job really well. She just tended to business. She was easy to work with and work for. She made it easy for everybody.”
Mr. Shelton said Humphrey was so dedicated to education and so well respected by her peers that her being a woman was never an issue.
“She did whatever it took to make education the number one priority,” he said. “She just did an outstanding job. She was such a dedicated person, you didn’t have to worry about people bucking her. They just didn’t do that.”
From its consolidation in 1978 until 1990, Butterfield housed Grades 1-6. The district took a year to remodel the campus and then in 1991, Butterfield opened as the 3rd grade campus. The school later became the 2nd-grade campus.
In 1995, Humphrey retired.
“She woke up one day and said, ‘I’m going to retire,’ and that was it,” Gleason said.
She said her mother was broken-hearted when Butterfield closed for good in 2006. In 2014, Sue Humphrey passed away at the age of 78 after suffering a stroke and blood clots in her lungs.
Her daughters say she would be honored to know that she is going to be forever remembered in Wylie’s Hall of Honor.
“She would be so thrilled and so humbled,” Gleason said. “Teaching was more than a job to her. This was mother’s passion.”