The Van ISD Education Foundation recently recognized distinguished alumni for the year.
This year’s honorees are Dorothy Wright, Harold “Looter” Wright and Dr. Jack Mayo.
The foundation annually chooses at least one former student from the local area and one from outside the area to honor.
These Van High School graduates’ achievements, strengths of character, and citizenship serve as a model to inspire and challenge current students, according to the foundation news release.
DOROTHY HOWELL WRIGHT
She was TJC’s top honor graduate earning a scholarship to Southern Methodist University where she also graduated with honors in 1953. She later earned a master’s degree from SMU.
Mrs. Wright began teaching in Dallas, before teaching a few years in Van. She then returned to Dallas where she taught for more than 30 years.
While there, she was one of the first recipients of the Ross Perot Award for Teaching Excellence.
She served many years on the Dallas ISD Superintendent’s Operation Involvement Board. She also received a Lifetime PTA membership for her devoted work with the Parent Teachers Association.
HAROLD LEE WRIGHT
In high school, he was actively involved in sports playing quarterback and defensive back on the Vandals football team. He was one of the few Vandals to qualify for state in pole vaulting, according to the news release.
After graduation, he served in the U.S. Military during the Korean conflict. He later attended TJC and SMU.
Wright’s career in the oil business began in the late 1950s at Pure Oil Company in Van. Moving from Van to Dallas, he began his 35-year career with Hunt Oil Company in Dallas.
He held various positions with Hunt including vice president of Hunt Refinery in Alabama; executive vice president and director of Portal Pipeline in North Dakota; and president and director of the Marine Terminal in Mobile, Ala.
His work involved crude oil supply and transportation in the U.S. as well as the North Sea, England, Scotland, Yemen, Mexico and Venezuela, according to the news release.
After retirement, the Wrights returned to Van becoming involved in city, school, and county service.
They are both actively involved at the Van United Methodist Church.
In 2011, they received the Van Chamber of Commerce “Presidential Eagle Award” in recognition for their community work.
The Wrights have three children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
DR. JACK MAYO
He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Texas State University, (now Texas A&M University–Commerce) and earned a doctorate in education from the University of North Texas, according to the news release.
Mayo’s education career spanned areas including school districts, the Texas Education Agency and publishing companies.
In Van ISD, he served as an elementary school science teacher, junior high school coach, counselor and curriculum director.
His responsibilities elsewhere included Tyler ISD special education director, Texas Education Agency guidance and testing consultant, and a regional and national measurement consultant for McGraw-Hill and Harcourt publishing companies.
McGraw-Hill and Harcourt recognized him four times as the company’s Regional or National Consultant of the Year, according to the news release.
Mayo was Van’s first male elementary teacher and second school counselor.
He counts among his best memories his years as the elementary school science teacher, his counseling role, and having undefeated junior high football and basketball teams.
Mayo said that his role model and mentor was former Van ISD Superintendent J.E. Rhodes.
He continues to be involved in public education by mentoring elementary students in Gainesville where he lives.
He and his wife, Julia, have four children, 10 grandsons and one great grandson.