Give Thanks For A Beloved Former
By Carolyn Stewart Carroll
School Nurse,-Miss Lila Rutherford
What a privilege is affords me to share with the readers of the
Examiner the life and times of the wonderful woman, Miss Lila
Rutherford, a former school nurse with C.I.S.D. and especially
remembered at the former G. W. Jackson High School of Corsicana.
Miss Rutherford endeared herself to everyone who knew her at
Jackson and she herself valued highly the associates she made
From her opening letter you will be transported back to another
era in time and many of you will recall vividly the people and
events she brings to mind.
So sit back, rest a spell and enjoy the fabulous Miss Lila
Lila Rutherford born 31 August 1908, Barry. TX. Seventh and
youngest child of Wm. Benjamin and Mary Ardenia Butler
Rutherford. Graduate of Barry High School, 1925; Bachelor's
degree North Texas State Teachers College, Denton, Tx. 1932.
Graduate Baylor University School of Nursing, Dallas, Tx. 1935.
Master's Degree University Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mi. 1945. On
campus courses at University of Texas, Austin, Tx. University
North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N. C. (on Rockefeller Fellowship).
Teacher in public school 4 years. Teacher in business school and
staff nurse in Genesee Hospital, Rochester, N.Y., 1936-1939.
Twelve week bicycle tour of Europe, 1938. Brief internship with
visiting Nurse Assn., Detroit, MI and Health Dept. Calhoun Co.,
MI. Health supervisor, National youth Administration for 24
counties in East Texas. Public health nurse in Travis and
Bastrop Counties, Texas State Director of Health Education,
National Defense Act, Austin, Tx. Last employment, nurse with
Corsicana-Navarro Co. Health Dept. and Corsicana Independent
School District. Retired 1973. In 1994, living in Corsicana with
Katie Canine enjoying retirement and stamp collecting.
An Open Letter to the Friends of the Examiner from Miss Lila
This is Lila Rutherford writing to you. Do you know me? Do you
remember the public health nurse who began work here in
Corsicana and Navarro County in 1946? Dr. Will Miller employed
me to do general public health nursing which at that time
included ALL of the many schools in Navarro County.
At that time there were rural schools scattered neighborhood by
neighborhood. Schools were segregated by race which almost
doubled the number.
Accidents and diseases know no racial barriers. Facetiously it
may be said that illness and injury are EOT - Equal Opporunity
Threats. Safety, sanitation and general health needs are the
same for all and I, this same nurse, worked with them all in the
very same way.
A few years later my work was limited to school nursing with the
Corsicana Independent School District. The schools were still
segregated by race for teachers and students. Only the nurse
continued as usual on her rounds for all. Jackson School was on
East 5th Avenue. It was referred to as Jackson High, although it
included both elementary and high school.
In my early years here, the principal at Jackson was Walter
Cotton. He was referred to as Professor Cotton. His staff
included such well respected teachers as Roxie Cooksey. Alva
Jean Smith, Zenobia Marshall, Hulen Smith, Jimmie D. Powell, and
Katherine Stevenson, as well as others.
In 1946, Carolyn Stewart, one of the graduating seniors, was so
popular that there was a whole page picture of her in the
annual, The Jacksonian. Among other prominent students
with pictures in the annual were Mordecai Hines, Lavinnius
Conley, and Tommy Flowers, a talented artist.
In the cotton mill area, there was an elementary school, Booker
T. Washington, with the Listers, a man and wife, as principal,
and first grades teacher. She also gave private piano lessons.
Among the teachers at Booker T. were Erma Walton, Sadie Andrews,
and Mary Alice Watts. One year there were twins, Ardie and
Tardie Turner, in the first grade. Nancy Jessie prepared and
served tasty wholesome meals part of which were vegetables grown
in her garden.
The names of many 1940's and 1950's teachers are vivid in my
mind. In naming a few no slight is intended for the many left
un-named. Johnnie Mae Moore, Juanita Tankersley, Tennie Chimeny,
Myrtle Padgitt Davis, and Arizona Johnson are names in my
Other principals and teachers with the schools were Curtis
Sparks at Dawson, the W.P. Davenports at Pelham, Freeman
Robinson at Frost, Chester Thomas at Elm Flat, and the Hamptons
at Goodlow Park (Kerens).
Dr. Davis and Dr. Orr, medical doctors, and Dr. Smith, dentist
had offices in Corsicana.
The mother of Fran Mosley and Eleanor Pearl Mosley Carroll was a
spirited leader who took the American Red Cross course for First
Aid Instructiors. She qualified to teach First Aid for
This letter is a superficial backward glance at some of my early
experiences since to coming to Corsicana in 1946. It is
altogether from memory without verification. In no way can it
include all. Please let these references represent all. This
letter is not to imaginary friends, to those who in any way can
identify with, appreciate, and respect these persons who are
May God bless us all! Lila Rutherford
To begin our Thanksgiving season, let us reflect on with
gratitude all the people in our lives who have meant much to our
growth and maturity. Such people are our teachers and school
nurses who have served us with willingness and cheerfulness.
These people have made a lasting impact and remarkable
contribution. To the generation in which they served and all
their work remains forever preserved for posterity. May we never
forget the love and friendship of people such as Miss Lila
Rutherford. Your many friends thank you Miss Rutherford for a
life well spent, a life dedicated to the good of humankind. May
the Lord reward you always and make this Thanksgiving 1994 your
Corsicana's Miss Lila Rutherford
N U R S E
The Examiner, Vol 5. No. 11,
Corsicana, Texas - Nov 1994
Rutherford dies at 98
Intellectual crossed racial barriers to help children
By Janet Jacobs
Lila Rutherford, original, groundbreaking, opinionated and a
perfectionist, the first school nurse in Corsicana, died Sunday in
Corsicana. She was 98.
Rutherford never married, never had children, but used her
independence to see the world, and get a superior education that
allowed her to pursue her career choice wherever it led. Eventually,
it brought her back to Navarro County, where she was to have an
impact on the lives of thousands of children over three decades with
the county and school system.
In 1938, the independent Rutherford took a 12-week bicycle tour of
Europe, returning home just before the start of World War II.
“She said she just barely made it back across the ocean,” said Mark
Luera, pastor of First Christian Church, who will be officiating at
Rutherford was born in Barry in 1908, the youngest daughter of W.
Benjamin and Mary Butler Rutherford. After high school, she went to
North Texas State Teachers College for her bachelor’s degree.
She taught school for four years before deciding that the need for
public health outweighed any other needs, and went back to school to
become a nurse.
“I think she was pursuing what she really wanted to do,” said Judy
Rodgers, who worked with Rutherford three decades ago, and remained
friends with her through the years.
Rutherford got her nursing degree from the Baylor University School
of Nursing in Dallas, and her masters degree in public health from
the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
She worked as a supervisor with the National Youth Administration,
covering 24 counties in East Texas, then became the public health
nurse in Travis and Bastrop counties, before taking the job of State
Director of Health Education in Austin.
It was while working in Austin that she was introduced to a young
politician named Lyndon Baines Johnson, who eagerly helped promote
the concept of public health nurses in schools.
When her mother became ill in 1946, Rutherford moved back to
Corsicana, and went to work for Navarro County as public health
nurse, covering all the schools from Dawson to Kerens. After her
mother passed away, she stayed to take care of her aging father, and
continued her work in the county.
“She was well-educated, she knew what she was doing, and her work
was her life,” said Gretchen London, who worked with Rutherford for
a short while. “She cared about the students, about the health of
the students. She was a pioneer in school nursing.”
At the time, the schools were segregated by race, but Rutherford was
the common bond, traveling between all the districts and campuses.
She later said that the problems of illness, injury, sanitation and
general health were all the same, regardless of which school she
“She started school nursing in Corsicana,” said Clyde Bullard, who
worked as a school nurse with Rutherford from 1968 until 1973.
When her county health duties were transferred to the school
district, Rutherford began working for the Corsicana School District
exclusively. She finally retired in 1973.
“She was a perfectionist,” London explained. “She knew how it should
be done, and that’s what she attempted to do.”
Working with her made the other nurses want to do better, London
“You wanted to do your best when you were working with her,” she
said. “You tried to emulate her perfection.”
Analytical and precise, many people who encountered Lila Rutherford
never got to see the softer side of her, her friends said.
She cared deeply about children, and also loved animals,
particularly dogs. Her sense of humor was dry, but she enjoyed
telling jokes and reading cartoons, especially any that included
“If she didn’t agree with you, she’d say ‘that’s interesting,’”
Rodgers said, laughing. “She was a character.”
Rutherford enjoyed reading, wrote poetry and collected stamps as a
hobby. She taught piano lessons for a while, as well, sharing her
love of music with children.
“I just remember her as being very self-disciplined and very
intellectual,” said Dorothy King, who worked in the food services
department with her years ago.
Rutherford is survived by two nieces from Alabama, and a nephew from
Dallas. A graveside service will take place at 3 p.m. at Grange Hall
Cemetery, where her parents are also interred.
Corsicana Daily Sun - Nov 7, 2006
This poem written by Lila Rutherford will be published in the "Leaves & Branches" that will be in the mail next week. Liz has just about ready to start printing. Lila is a chartered member of the Society and is up in years. I believe she is in the
Twilight Home, but still interested in genealogy. She has gave some books to the Genealogy Rm.
Lila Rutherford was a School Nurse in the Corsicana ISD
Find your people! Find your people!
In courthouse or by church steeple;
In dim print of old newspapers
Read of great grandfather’s capers.
From the dates of census takers
And the bygone history makers
Learn the stories of ancestors,
Landed lords or lowly nesters.
Trunks in attics, old love letters
All await ambitious getters
Fill in parts of records lacking
For your people you are tracking.
Find your people! Saints and sinners!
Find the losers and the winners
All your time and effort spending
In this quest that’s never ending.
Updated Link for Lila's Biography:
I am descended from the Roberts family who arrived in Navarro county
in 1846, the Lemley, Ross and Hellums families, all of whom were in
Navarro before 1900. Please show a link to my families:
Thanks. Ruby Nell Collins
Grange Hall Cemetery