Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Library Receives a Remarkable Gift
Houston County Courier - August 2008
By Sharron Randall
Tuesday, Aug. 26 from 2-4 p.m., friends and relatives of a remarkable woman gathered at John H. Wootters Public Library to celebrate her birthday and legacy.
Emma Catherine Walters, Aug. 26, 1920-March 10, 2008, devoted daughter, honorary sister, aunt and grandmother, faithful friend, dedicated educator, and benefactress left an amazing gift of $650,000 to the Crockett Public Library and the people of Houston County.
Siblings of her first cousins were her only kin. Cousins Charley Darsey, wife Tonya and their daughters Linda Brooke and Haley Ann of Grapeland and Pam Hill Kuehne, formerly of Grapeland but now of Dallas, unveiled Miss Walters' portrait that will hang in the library.
Ms. Kuehne also presented a framed insurance policy signed by Jefferson Davis which Miss Walters inherited and wished to be displayed in the library as a piece of history.
Tonya Darsey paid tribute to "Aunt Catherine," but cautioned that "Only Charley and I and our daughters" were privy to that name. Other names she went by were Emma and Catherine to her friends
She taught math in Grapeland and Elkhart and for 40 years, advanced math in Hyde Park. In 1986, Miss Walters retired to Grapeland but continued tutoring students in math.
Ms. Darsey said that Miss Walters was tough but fair; anyone who made an A in her class "earned" it by working hard. "She was barely 5 feet tall but she could bring a 6 foot football player to his knees," Ms. Darsey said.
She was described as "a stinker," "not perfect and a bit judgmental," always there when you needed her," a good friend," and "a saver." She "saved" that substantial amount of money on a teacher's salary!
If things didn't go "her way," it was the "wrong way."
Ms. Darsey mentioned her best friends, Sereta Platt, Mollie Jones, Catherine Pridgen and Edwina Long, all of Grapeland. She said that the friends would often meet for coffee, but "Aunt Catherine" would drink tea.
President Smitty Dean accepted Emma Catherine Walters' endowment on behalf of the library board made up of Glenna Enos, Kay Hamilton, Bea Whitfill, Roberta Mason, Sarah Clark and Jack Patton.
The endowment fund directors are President Tommy Driskell, Vice President Howard Edmiston, Treasurer Rae Pat Dean, Secretary Ms. Darsey and Member Ms. Kuehne.
Dean recognized the library staff of Sharlene Hoffmaster, librarian since 1997; James Sutton, circulation desk, technology and computer class instructor; Beverly Mize, reference, pre-GED classes and ESL instructor; Lael Lewis, children's librarian and Gloria Wooten, circulation.
The library staff and adult and teenage volunteers make the library a drawing card for the city of Crockett. The library is one of the "finest in the state, a hidden asset," said Dean.
He especially mentioned the children's reading program, GED classes, technology and computers and the genealogy room. The endowment will be used to upgrade and improve all areas and programs in the library.
In 2006, over 33,000 people visited the library. In 2007, over 40,000 visited. In 2006 6,500 people had access to the computers; more in 2007 and in 2008 over 7,000 computer users are expected to have hands on experience.
Many of the future upgrades and improvements to the library will be made possible by an amazing gift from a remarkable woman.