Joshua High School students must learn a new name for the gym they’ve been calling “the new gym” for 10 years, JHS Principal Mick Cochran said on Sunday.
Joshua ISD officials held a dedication ceremony naming the JHS gym the W.W. and Ethel Galbreath Gymnasium on Sunday. During the ceremony, the couple’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other family members recalled their fondest memories of the two.
“It was getting old calling it ‘the new gym,’” Cochran said. “It’s a wonderful name for a wonderful building.”
Superintendent Fran Marek opened the dedication ceremony with a few words about how instrumental the Galbreaths were in shaping JISD into what it is today.
W.W. Galbreath served as the district’s superintendent for nearly a decade and his wife, Ethel Galbreath, served 26 of her 34 teaching years in JISD, said their son, school board President Ronnie Galbreath.
“They moved here in 1940 and only planned to stay a year,” he said, because at the time, JISD did not hire married women to teach. But the district changed its policy in 1941 so W.W. could stay, he said.
W.W. Galbreath quit school at 16, Ronnie Galbreath said, but “the [Sanger ISD] superintendent talked him back in to school.”
If it wasn’t for hitch-hiking from Sanger to what is now the University of North Texas on a daily basis, his father might have never moved to Joshua or been superintendent, Ronnie Galbreath said.
School board Secretary Gene Loflin said he had fond memories of being one of Ethel’s students. He said his family had known the Galbreath family going back nearly three-quarters of a century. Loflin’s father graduated high school under W.W. Galbreath’s superintendency, Loflin said.
“Years after that, I had the opportunity to have Mrs. Galbreath as my geometry teacher,” Loflin said. “I found Mrs. Galbreath to be the grandmotherly type. And I learned more about geometry than I ever cared to.
“Looking back, she was one of those teachers that definitely made a difference in my life.”
Cherrisue Presnall, Ethel Galbreath’s niece, talked about spending summers and school breaks at her aunt and uncle’s home.
“You couldn’t have picked a better thing to do,” Presnall told district officials.
She recalled the summer her uncle rented roller skates and opened the local gym for teens to spend their weekends getting out some of their energy. Then there was the time when they ordered new movie reels and the neighbors all gathered together for movies and popcorn, she said.
After the dedication, Ronnie Galbreath said he was pleased his parents were honored in such a permanent way.
“They deserve it, he said. “They did a lot for this community.”
The Galbreaths’ daughter, Glenda Stephens, agreed.
“It’s such an honor for us, too,” Stephens said. “We’re just thrilled.”