By RAY QUIROGA
Port Isabel-South Padre PRESS
To say that Frances Etheridge is an educator’s educator would be accurate, but it would also be an understatement.
A lifelong resident of Port Isabel, Etheridge spent her entire professional career with the Point Isabel ISD beginning in 1965 and ending this year for a total of 47 years with the district.
But her contribution to the community and humanity didn’t stop at the dismissal bell. For her effort and dedication Etheridge was honored last week with the Rotary Club of Port Isabel’s Service Award which is given quarterly to a deserving member of the community.
Etheridge was born May 11, 1936, and graduated 1954. While she had a scholarship to attend Mary Harden Baylor College, due to financial constraints, she began working as a local drug store clerk.
She began her employment with the Point Isabel ISD as a paraprofessional and she later took on secretarial duties before becoming a teacher at Garriga Elementary School.
Acknowledging the need for bilingual teachers, Etheridge was given a grant in 1971 to enroll at Texas Southmost College, where she earned an Associate of Arts. At Pan American University in 1975, she earned a BS degree graduating Summa Cum Laude, and in 1977 she was awarded her Masters of Arts Degree in Bilingual Education from Texas A&I University in Kingsville.
In 1996, Frances was selected as the “Walmart Teacher of the Year” and was listed in the “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.” In 2002, she was the first person inducted by PIISD officials into the Hall of Fame. Before her retirement in June of 2012, she was voted “Garriga Elementary Teacher of the Year” by her colleagues.
She has served as a member of numerous school district committees and community organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, board member of the Laguna Madre Boys and Girls Club, board member of the First Board of Directors of the Port Isabel Public Library, member of the Port Isabel Tarpons Quarterback Club, and present board member of the Port Isabel Beautification Committee.
Frances credits her involvement with the church and the various ministries as part of her mother’s legacy. “She always said we were the church and it was up to us to use the gifts that the Lord had given us to use. I help at the church by setting up for Mass, opening and closing the church on Saturday. On Sunday, I open the church early in the morning and also set up for Mass. I am a Eucharistic Minister, lead the Rosary for the deceased at the church and funeral home, help with wedding rehearsals, and am a past Altar server’s sponsor. I also help make prayer blankets for the sick on Thursday nights and lead the Rosary, prayer and songs. I have volunteered with this for 25 years,” she said.
Etheridge is a widow whose husband, Henry B. Etheridge Sr., died in 1983. She has a son Henry B. Etheridge Jr., her daughter-in-law Elizabeth, and her grandson Henry Bo Burr Etheridge III, her pride and joy. She also has two brothers and 3 sisters, several nephews, nieces, great nephews, great nieces, and hundreds of little lives she has touched and loved through her job as an educator.
Read this story in the Dec. 13 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.