Bob and Grace Atherton

Bob and Grace Atherton Portrait

Atherton Elementary School was named in honor of two endearing educators, Mr. Bob Atherton and Mrs. Grace Adams Atherton. Grace was born in Sulphur Springs, Texas in the early 1900’s. She was raised on a farm as the tenth child out of eleven children. After graduating from Sulphur Springs High School, Grace went on to attend Wesley Methodist College in Greenville, Texas where she first met her husband, Bob Atherton. During this time, Grace continued her schooling at East Texas State Teachers’ School which is now Texas A&M University-Commerce. Grace earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at East Texas State. Bob and Grace married in 1939 and had two children who also became educators.

Bob and Grace spent their lives making significant contributions to the educational community. Bob began his career as the principal of Murphy Elementary School in Texas. When he was drafted into World War II, his wife took over as the school’s principal. After serving his country in the Armed Forces for 3 years, Bob returned home from overseas and continued his job as the principal of Murphy Elementary while his wife went on to teach third grade at the same elementary school. In 1952, Bob and Grace moved to Arlington, Texas. While in Arlington, Grace taught at Maxie Speer Elementary School. Also, Bob became the first principal of South Davis Elementary School when it opened in 1953 and he became the principal of Westside Elementary which was later renamed Swift Elementary School.

Grace’s love for children led her to attend the Texas Woman’s University in Denton and obtain 30 hours of coursework for certification to work with students with learning disabilities. She designed a curriculum for a school designated for special education and special needs students, and she became the first principal of the school which is now Veda Knox Elementary School. Afterward, Grace took a position in the Arlington school district’s central administration office as a consultant training teachers in the district to work with learning disabled students.

Grace’s love for children led her to attend the Texas Woman’s University in Denton and obtain 30 hours of coursework for certification to work with students with learning disabilities. She designed a curriculum for a school designated for special education and special needs students, and she became the first principal of the school which is now Veda Knox Elementary School. Afterward, Grace took a position in the Arlington school district’s central administration office as a consultant training teachers in the district to work with learning disabled students.

 

Grace Atherton Portrait

After their retirement in the early 1970’s, the principal-teacher couple were both honored by having Atherton Elementary School named after them when it opened in 1977 with an enrollment of 308 students. Although Bob Atherton passed away in 1979, Mrs. Atherton remained actively involved in the community for many years. She was known for her artistic talents, and her paintings can be found hanging in her church. She is also known for her original storytelling in costumes and with puppets. Grace told stories, most of which she had written herself, to children in the Arlington school district for decades.

Grace Atherton has been dubbed, “Amazing Grace,” and among her many accomplishments are: recipient of the Priscilla and Aquila award; recipient of the first PTA lifetime membership at Atherton Elementary School; president of the Arlington State Teachers’ Association; first elected president of the Eta Upsilon chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma; recipient of the Certificate of Honor for the Friend of Education Award at South Davis Elementary School; nomination for Arlington’s Woman of the Year in 1968; active member of the Arlington Woman’s Club; member of the Arlington Retired Teachers’ Club; Fifty year Lifetime member of the Eastern Star; Atherton’s Queen of the Day; active member of the National Storytelling League; active member of the First United Methodist Church for more than 60 years; elected outstanding senior citizen of Arlington in 1980 based on volunteer work; and recipient of the Cooper Award (2008) from the Arlington Woman's Club.

Grace passed away on June 13, 2016, at the age of 103.

As the namesakes of Atherton Elementary School, Bob and Grace Atherton have been inspirational leaders in the educational arena. Bob Atherton is best remembered for being “a school principal who expected the best of everyone.” Grace Atherton continues to be known for being “a person who had a knack for solving problems in a kind and loving way and making the most of any situation.”