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Wilson made his mark on school district

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, November 3, 2012

Northwest ISD’s newest middle school honors the memory of an educator who impacted not only that school district, but others in Wise County.

EARLY DAYS OF NORTHWEST – Truett Wilson is shown during his tenure as a teacher and coach in Justin. Wilson would later become superintendent of the Northwest school district. Submitted photo

A dedication ceremony for Truett Wilson Middle School is 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at 14250 Sendera Ranch Blvd. in Fort Worth. The school is located in the Sendera Ranch housing development near Haslet.

Wilson was born at his family’s small cotton farm between Rhome and Aurora in 1916. He was the youngest of seven children, and all three of his brothers died before the age of five.

When he was six years old, the family moved to a farm they leased on Farm Road 407 in what was then known as the Fairview Community (now New Fairview). He grew up during the Depression, and he would later tell younger generations of his family how he would plow the fields with mules and pick cotton. Like many other students of the day, he rode a horse to school in Rhome. He graduated from Rhome High School in 1934.

Despite financial constraints, Wilson went to Decatur Baptist Junior College in 1935 and 1936 before attending North Texas State College (now the University of North Texas) in Denton 1937-1938. He earned degrees in business, coaching, education and music. Wilson would come home on the weekends to work on the family farm, wash clothes and get canned food for the next week while in school.

Following graduation, he taught a semester in Denton before going to the Paradise school district to teach. He’s pictured in the 1940 annual next to Bertye Lue Williams – the woman who would later become his wife. The two wanted to go out, but faculty members could not date at the time. So Wilson resigned and went to teach in Decatur. He taught commercial classes, the stage band and marching band.

Truett Wilson and Bertye Lue Williams were married in March of 1941.

In December of that year, the United States went to war. Wilson signed up for military duty, but he couldn’t pass the physical. He continued to teach until his father had a severe stroke. For several years, Wilson left the teaching field to operate the farm they were leasing. Ten years later, they were able to purchase their own farm just down the road.

Wilson began teaching and coaching in Justin in 1947. Two years later, schools in Rhome, Haslet, Justin and Roanoke combined to form the Northwest ISD. From 1950-1951, he was the principal for the first through eighth grade school in Justin.

In 1952, Wilson became the original principal of Northwest Junior High, the year the Northwest campus on Texas 114 opened. Administrators came and went during the early years of Northwest ISD, but Wilson remained, and in 1966, he became the fourth superintendent in the district’s history. He retired in 1979 due to health reasons.

During those first 30 years of the Northwest school district, money was tight. Board members were people who had survived the Depression and World War II, and they were a conservative group. By the end of Wilson’s tenure as superintendent, many of his board members were former students.

The school district was considered small in those early days. Northwest ISD first reached 1,000 students in 1972 during Wilson’s tenure as superintendent. He often spoke of the growth potential as he watched areas around the Metroplex begin to grow.

Wilson didn’t live to see the explosive growth he predicted, as he died in 1988. But his predictions have come true, with a student population of nearly 18,000 this year, with the number expected to increase to around 30,000 in 10 years.

The Northwest school board voted to name the district’s fifth middle school after Wilson two years ago.

Members of Wilson’s family still live in the New Fairview area.

Information for this story was provided by Truett Wilson’s only child, Joe Max Wilson, who lives in New Fairview.

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