Saturday, May 05, 2012

Billy Sills

Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives." –Andy Rooney

My vote for the best 63 Highlander teacher is Billy West Sills. He was only 34 when he taught our senior classes and was a slight man who was always nicely dressed in a coat and tie. He exuded a quiet dignity and strength of character that enabled him to control his classrooms in a calm, competent manner. He was not a macho-type, but rather was a man who tended to command respect with a firmness that I don't recall as being threatening in any way. He had a thorough knowledge of his subjects which, as you might recall, were American History and Government.

I’m pretty sure I took every class Mr. Sills taught and I’m sure that my keen appreciation of history today traces directly back to his contributions to my education. I don’t have any specific anecdotal remembrances of Mr. Sills. My memory of him is more in the manner of a body of shared experience. After we graduated and went on, his career path took him to the ISD level as an administrator and later, I think, as the district historian. Just as Andy Rooney points out, Mr. Sills was very well regarded by a large population that he touched during his life. There are some FWISD facilities named after him. He died in 2002 at age 74. Men like Billy West Sills don’t come along very often and the world is a lesser place without him.

Mr. Sills walked with a very pronounced limp caused by polio.  No matter though. About the only way that limp inhibited Mr. Sills was to prohibit him from being a competitive sprinter. He was first cabin in every respect. God bless you, Mr. Sills, and thank you for all the help.



Anonymous said...

It was my understanding that Mr. Sills was in the army, and had served in the Phillipines, and was captured by the Japanese, and was forced to make the march to Batan. That was a brutal march that the allied captured had to make, in which many died. He was a very good teacher.

Paul Tate said...

It wasn't Mr. Sills who was associated with the Batan march, it was Physics teacher, John Ross.

James said...

When I was teaching in the Fort Worth ISD in the '70's, Mr. Sills was director of social studies and I got to know him really well. He was a wonderful guy and took his job and social studies seriously. When the teacher evaluation... began using the idea of "EQ's" I wrote a song called "EQ Blues" and Mr. Sills invited me to a meeting of department directors to perform the song. It did get a lot of laughs from them. I think they hated the system as much as we did. But Bill Sills had a great sense of humor beneath that all business persona.

DMCC said...

Mr. Sills was a true saint. When I was in Jr. High at Meadowbrook, the older kids tormented him to the ultimate. They would as a group put hairpins in a seam in the desk and all in unison would begin to strum them. It created a cacaphony you wouldn't believe and no individual could be singled out. I remember one they taped a dime to a plastic crutch used for March of Dimes and left it on his desk. Those 9th graders were cruel beyond belief and he was such a gentle man and wonderful teacher.

Ernie Clark said...

Mr. Sills was the best teacher I ever studied under.

Joe Dickerson said...

He was the best. I got to help him with audio-visual (I don't think it had a name at the time) and he always treated me great. I threw up once in his civics class and he handled that crisis with the greatest aplomb (sp ?), not rattled at all.