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by Arvord M. Abernethy
from The Hamilton Herald-News
28 March, 1991


AProf.@ Love is the one we pay tribute to this week. Rodney love was born February 2, 1910, to Roscoe and Eva McKenzie Love in Denton County, Texas.

Rodney=s father was a school teacher and things were going well until his mother passed away when Rodney was three years old. At that time he and his older sister, Wynell, were taken to their grandparents, the John McKenzies of Mesquite. The McKenzies were a highly respected and successful family so this made a good arrangement for Rodney and Wynell in spite of their unfortunate situation.

Things worked really well for the children there, but Rodney always remembered one occasion when it wasn=t so pleasant. The children were playing church and Rodney was the preacher and things were going well until all at once Rodney decided that he was not called to be a preacher so he let out a few words that most preachers don=t have in their vocabulary and stepped down. Wynell ran and told their grandmother the words that Rodney had used so she successfully administered a lasting lesson with the aid of a peach tree switch.

The McKenzies had some teen-aged boys that liked to tease Rodney so when he was eight years of age, he thought that he had had enough and went to his grandfather Love to live.

About this time his father married one of the teachers where he had served as superintendent. This lady was Idelle APeggy@ York, petite, ambitious young lady whom many of us got to know and love after she moved here in later years. She was always affectionately called ALittle Mommie@ by Rodney.

It was this writer=s great pleasure to visit with her and write a story of her life. When she was 93 years old, she was asked to speak to a United Way gathering at Roanoke. That night she penned a little verse that I thought was cute, going something like this: A93 is a ripe old age, so said an ancient sage; I know what I=ll do about this age of mine, I=ll reverse the digits and make mine 39.@

The new family life worked well for both Rodney and Wynell as ALittle Mommie@ was a great encouragement to both. When Rodney finished the elementary grades at Roanoke, she was one of the teachers, and his father was the superintendent.

He graduated from the Denton High School in 1928 and then worked for the Texas and Pacific Railway for two years before starting his college work at North Texas State University, from which he graduated in 1935. At the time he was there, ALittle Mommie@ would also be taking some work there. A practice that she continued even after she reached 80 years of age.

Soon after graduation, we find Rodney filling out a teachers tern at Fairy and thus Hamilton County claimed him from that time on.

In 1936, Rodney went to Pottsville to be the principal, a teacher, and the coach. It was during these early years of teaching that the inherent leadership qualities of Rodney began to express themselves. We will hear much leadership as a coach, but he possessed other qualities which we will see led to his great success as a coach.

Bert Schrank was one of the pupils and players who received some of the benefits of Rodney=s leadership. Bert recalls the encouragement that Rodney would give any child, regardless of conditions, whether it be to conquer a subject of study or an opponent on the playing field. The Pottsville teams won over 60% of the basketball games they played under him.

Rodney started six man football there at Pottsville and jokingly told that the first six man game that he ever saw was the one there and played by that team. Most of the players had never seen such a game. The first year they only won one game, but the only losses, the next year were district games. By the third year they were undefeated and unscored on.

With the coming of WWII, Rodney became an instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base at Wichita Falls. Then he was moved to the Amarillo base where he taught for most of the time, finally being transferred to Keesler Base at Biloxi, Mississippi.

After things settled down, he returned to this area and in 1948 began his great years in Evant as principal, teacher, and coach. It would be hard to list all the awards and trophies that boys and girls won while Rodney was there. The girls were district champs from 1951 to 1958 and went to state three times. Almost the same could be said of the boys. In 1954 the boys set a state record when they ran up 85 points against Rankin. When Rodney realized that the boys were about to set a state record, he let every boy on the team play some so they could say that they had played on the record setting team.

Rodney came to Hamilton as high school principal in 1959 and served until 1972. Since this was an administrative job and not as coach where there is a lot of publicity, we did not hear his name so often, but if you will look in some of the high school annuals, you will find him wearing many hats.  It was not a A9 to 5" job for him. And we all learned to appreciate AProf.@ greatly for his efforts.

Along about this time we find another character entering our story: Gayle Campbell by name. Gayle was a native of Lamkin and lived back there when it was a thriving little town and had many businesses, a railroad that shipped out a lot of cotton, and a school system of some 200 pupils.

After finishing school at Lamkin and doing college work, she began her teaching career by teaching at Batesville in far south Texas where her sister Sybil (Mrs. Robert DeLaney) was teaching.

In 1944, Gayle enlisted in the U. S. Navy and was sent to Washington, D. C. Where she worked in the Navy Building for the duration. After that she returned to Houston and began teaching; a place she filled for some 25 years. One of those years she taught for the Gulf Oil Company in South America.

After her father died, Gayle returned to Lamkin to take care of her mother until her passing. Then she did some teaching in the Gatesville State School and also some in the Comanche schools.

Gayle met Rodney at some of the school functions but nothing had developed. Mark and Freddie Sills decided they could help the situation some by inviting both of them to their home for a social occasion. It worked, the friendship grew into a full grown blossom and they were married May 24, 1975, and made their home in the redone Campbell home there in Lamkin.

Theirs was a full, active life there in the community and in the United Methodist Church until Rodney was stricken with an extended illness that led to his passing on September 2, 1985. He was buried in the Gentry=s Mill Cemetery were many of the Campbell family are buried. Among Rodney=s keepsakes are several letters and notes from former students expressing their appreciation for him for the encouragement that he gave them. A letter from a student to Gayle after Rodney=s passing is a classic.




The Hamilton Herald-News

29 September, 1994


When the Pottsville Ex-Students Association has its annual reunion Oct. 8, a new scholarship will also get its start.

Every year since 1953, a group of Pottsville ex-students have met at Whitney Lake to honor Rodney Love, their teacher and coach. Endearingly nicknamed AProf.@

AProf@ attended every year as long as his health permitted. After his death in 1985 the meetings were continued in memory of Prof Love. Often the conversations turned to how his memory could be further perpetuated.

Last October the group had a banquet at Pecan Creek Inn honoring their wives, many of whom had also been students of Prof. Love, and Mrs. Gayle Love, Prof=s widow. Other students and friends also attended.

At this meeting, Bill Rea, former student, introduced the idea to form a scholarship trust honoring the memory of Prof Love since he had devoted his career to education.

. ... ... ... ... ...

Prof. Love came to this area in the spring of 1936 at the request of Fairy High School to fill a temporary teaching position finishing that school term. In the fall of 1936 he was hired by the Pottsville School as a teacher and coach. He soon became the principal of the school and head coach. It was soon apparent that his methods and actions would inspire students to use the highest principles to achieve academic superiority and athletic skills attainable. It was his objective to keep students in school. Dismissal was never a threat or concern. He helped everyone regardless of their need or background.

He left the Pottsville position to engage in the war effort by teaching aeronautics classes in Amarillo and in Biloxi, Miss.

After the war, Love returned to the area to become principal and coach at Evant. It was here that he took several athletic teams in basketball and baseball to state competition.

He completed his career as principal at Hamilton High School.

He met and married Gayle Campbell and they lived in the Lamkin community until his death in 1985. Mrs. Love expressed great appreciation for the scholarship trust and has given a donation to start the trust.

Robert Williams, longtime local merchant, retired, says that it is fitting that a scholarship trust in Love=s name be established, for he was the best handler of young people he had ever known. He also said that his complete devotion to his step-mother, who raised him from the age of 3 when his mother died indicated to him the caring person Love was. 

 Shared by Roy Ables




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People and Places: Gazetteer of Hamilton County, TX
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Copyright March, 1998
by Elreeta Crain Weathers, B.A., M.Ed.,  
(also Mrs.,  Mom, and Ph. T.)

A Work In Progress