Founders’ Day Photo Contest

By , 13 March, 2010, No Comment

It’s time for another contest!

This time it’s an easy one. Just email your best photo from Founders’ Day to zephyrhills100 {at} gmail(.)com. The judges will choose a photo to represent the entire weekend and the photographer will win a FREE copy of Tapestry – History of Zephyrhills High School and Education in Zephyrhills!

You can enter multiple photos, but all entries must be received by NOON on Monday, March 22, 2010. The winning entry will be selected that week and posted online for everyone to see! Runner-up entries will also be posted. Good luck!

*Official Rules: Sweepstakes open only to legal U.S. residents over the age of 18. Sponsor of this promotion is Gregg Hilferding, 38530 5th Avenue, Zephyrhills, FL 33542. The promotion shall run from 7:00 PM on March 13, 2010 and ends at 12:00 PM on March 22, 2010. Deadline may be extended if a valid entry has not yet been received. ONLY THE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE PICTURE MAY ENTER. Photographers retain the copyright to their photographs. By entering the contest, photographers agree to have their submitted photograph displayed on the website without any fee or other form of compensation, and agree that Gregg Hilferding may make and retain copies of the photograph for archival purposes. Sponsor is the sole judging organization whose decisions as to the operation of the Sweepstakes and the selection of the winner is final and binding in all matters. Winner agrees to allow Sponsor to use his or her name and photograph for publicity and promotional purposes without further compensation. Rules subject to change without notice.

Ten Grand Marshalls Selected

By , 11 March, 2010, No Comment

Rosemary Trottman
The nominating committee is proud to announce the selection of TEN Grand Marshalls for the 100th Anniversary Founders’ Day Parade this Saturday. They tabulated all the entries and have confirmed that each of these people will represent one of the decades of Zephyrhills history.

George Neukom, son George III, and grandson George IV
The Neukom family moved from Indiana to Abbott Station now Zephyrhills in 1910. The family operated Neukoms Drugstore from 1921 until closing the store in 2001. George was and is still active in the local business and the citrus industry. George III now operates Neukom Groves, shipping fresh citrus over most of the United States.

Brantley Smith and brother Buddy
The Smith family dates back to the late 1800’s. The Smith brothers played sports at ZHS developed Silverado Golf Course. The family donated land for the YMCA on Eiland Blvd. Involved in local politics, brother Stephan was elected to Zephyrhills City Council, and Buddy’s son Lance Smith is currently seated on the Zephyrhills City Council.

Nathan Geiger
A local family with deep roots in the community, Geiger owned and operated a local grain and feed store.

Coach John Clements
He moved to Zephyrhills in the late 1940’s and coached the Bulldogs baseball team for 21 years. ZHS baseball field named in his honor in 1983.

Helen Winters
Her late husband Gordon opened Winters Park, the oldest park in Zephyrhills and a direct descendant of the “Tin Can Tourists.”

Clyde Bracknell & Bill McGavern
Two former basketball players from the 1962 class B state championship team. Clyde Bracknell, long time city councilman, has the distinction of serving twenty nine years, more than any other council member. Bill McGavern is a local businessman, banker, realtor, and Chairman of the board of HPH Hospice.

Sam Surratt
Local businessman served on city council 1953/1954 and again 1957 to 1976. A lot of changes came to Zephyrhills the most notable the recall election of 1976 and the sale of railroad property.

Nelson Ryman
Moved to Zephyrhills in 1969. Nelson owned and operated H&R Interstate Homes, as a local businessman he was very successful due to the growth of over 55 senior communities that now total over 150 in the area. Nelson is active in the Daybreak Rotary Club of Zephyrhills and has worked for over ten years supporting the orphans at Tytoo Gardens in Haiti.

Irene Dobson
She has been a civil rights activist in the City of Pure Water and has seen many changes including changing the name of 6th Ave. to Martin Luther King Ave.

Marcus & M.J. Price
Representing the new Zephyrhills, husband and wife team Marcus & M.J. Price founded Goin’ Postal, a shipping franchise with over 300 locations. Goin’ Postal has been listed as one of the fastest growing franchises in the country. Watch for their next franchise Hut 8!

Win a FREE copy of Images of America: Zephyrhills!

By , 11 March, 2010, 4 Comments

Images of America - Zephyrhills

Images of America - Zephyrhills

By know you’ve probably heard all about the newest book about Zephyrhills, right? And you know you can buy a copy this Saturday and have it signed by the author, Madonna Jervis Wise, right? What you didn’t know is that you could win a FREE copy!

It’s easy to enter, you just have to find the answers to these five questions somewhere on the website and email your full name and the answers to the email address listed below. We will choose the entrant with the most correct answers to receive a free copy of the book. In the event we receive multiple entries with all five correct answers, we will randomly select the winner from one of those entries.*

Ready? Excited? Here’s the five questions:

  1. Who received the honor of Miss Zephyrhills in 1927? (Hint: She was the first documented Miss Zephyrhills!)
  2. In 1938, Charles Neukom started a tradition at Neukom’s drugstore soda fountain. What was the name of the local dentist who was the first to become a regular at the Scratch Game?
  3. If you were around in the late 1940s and ’50s you may have taken a ride in Willie’s Taxi. Even if you never got a ride, Willie’s Taxi Stand was the place to stop by and get the latest local news. What was Willie’s full first and last name?
  4. West Zephyrhills Elementary School was dedicated during Founders’ Day in 1960. What was the name of the Pasco County School Superintendent who officiated the ceremony?
  5. In 1948, ZHS held a contest for students to name the annual yearbook. Who won five dollars for coming up with the name “The Zephilsco?”

Find the answers to these five questions somewhere on the website (HINT: Use the search field at the top right corner!) and email your answers to zephyrhills100 {at} gmail(.)com today!

Entries must be received no later than Noon on Saturday, March 13, 2010. We will announce the winner on the Facebook page on Saturday and the winner can pick up their book that day!

*Boring Official Rules: Sweepstakes open only to legal U.S. residents over the age of 18. Sponsor of this promotion is Gregg Hilferding, 38530 5th Avenue, Zephyrhills, FL 33542. The promotion shall run from 6:00 PM on March 11, 2010 and ends at 12:00 PM on March 13, 2010. Deadline may be extended if a valid entry has not yet been received. Limit one entry per person. Sponsor is the sole judging organization whose decisions as to the operation of the Sweepstakes and the selection of the winner is final and binding in all matters. Winner agrees to allow Sponsor to use his or her name and photograph for publicity and promotional purposes without further compensation. Rules subject to change without notice.

Parade Lineup

By , 9 March, 2010, No Comment

This post is for parade entrants and contains important information that will help you easily find your spot prior to the beginning of the parade on Saturday morning. Download and print the complete instructions and map to bring with you Saturday!

Parade line-up begins at 8:30 a.m. and will continue through 9:45 a.m. Floats and moving vehicles should arrive early to ensure less congestion for walking & marching units. Any participants not lined up by 9:45 a.m. may lose their assigned spot in the parade line-up. The parade starts promptly at 10:00 a.m.

Main Street staff and/or volunteers will be available to direct you to your assigned parade slot. Please refer to the map attached to the PDF download for your designated spot. (If viewing the map on your computer screen only, you may need to enlarge it to view the smaller print with the parade entry names and line-up spot numbers.)

If you have any questions, please contact the Main Street office at: 813-780-1414 or, on the day of the event, I can be reached via cell phone at (813) 838-2685.We look forward to a successful Founders’ Day celebration and want to thank you for your participation in this community event sponsored by Main Street Zephyrhills, Inc.

Download the PDF for the rest of the instructions

Images of America: Zephyrhills Historical Photo Book Published!

By , 9 March, 2010, 3 Comments

UPDATE! The book is now for sale at multiple locations in Zephyrhills. Check the bottom of the post for a listing!

Thanks to local famous author Madonna Jervis Wise, the Zephyrhills centennial is being commemorated with a book. The book, Images of America: Zephyrhills, is now on sale for $21.99 at local bookstores, independent retailers, and Arcadia Publishing.

Images of America: Zephyrhills is a 128-page book with colloquial anecdotes and over 200 genuine photos from Zephyrhills’ past. Those 200+ photos were chosen from over 700 Madonna collected from families, school archives, all local museum collections, and the Historical societies from West Pasco to Zephyrhills.

Images of America - Zephyrhills

Images of America - Zephyrhills

There is a book signing scheduled to be a part of the Founder’s Day festivities. In tribute to the centennial, the book signing will be held in the place where it all started — the Captain Jeffries House. From 4 PM to 8 PM, there will be complimentary refreshments, books for purchase, and a drawing for chances to win Zephyrhills for free.

Madonna has graciously elected to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the book to the ZHS100 committee. She hopes the book will “honor families and community and authentically depict the all-inclusive experiences of history in shaping development.”

About the Author:

Madonna Jervis Wise

Madonna Jervis Wise

Madonna Wise is the author of the local column Countdown to Centennial with co-author Clereen Brunty. She is also the author of five other books including Wildcat Creek Kids and Tapestry – Zephyrhills. A local historian and educator, Madonna is a 36-year resident of Zephyrhills.

Zephyrhills businesses carrying the book:

Little Angel Christian Bookstore
Moody’s Hardware
Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce
Walgreens #5604
Florida Medical Clinic Pharmacy
Beth’s Books

ZHS100 Merchandise

By , 8 March, 2010, No Comment
ZHS 100 Promo Items Display Board

All photos courtesy of Clereen Brunty

The ZHS100 committee is selling ZHS100 merchandise in honor of the high school’s upcoming centennial. There are shirts, mugs, and bricks from the old building.

ZHS Bricks-1

ZHS Brick

ZHS Centennial mug

ZHS Centennial mug

ZHS Centennial T-shirt Logo

ZHS Centennial T-shirt Logo

T-shirts are $10 each and come in either black or white. They only have medium and large in white, but the black shirt comes in all sizes up to a double X. Coffee mugs and bricks are $10 as well.

The ZHS100 committee is also selling bulldog label pins with traditional school colors. These are on sale to aid in the annual reunion funds for the ZHS Alumni Association.

Centennial Quilts

By , 8 March, 2010, No Comment

ZHS Media Specialist Judy Norris has donated two centennial quilts she designed and handmade to the ZHS100 committee. These quilts are to be raffled off at the ZHS Centennial celebration on Saturday, October 23, 2010. Tickets for the raffle are just $5 each or 3 for $10.

ZHS Centennial Quilt (black center)

ZHS Centennial Quilt (black center)

ZHS Centennial Quilt (white center)

ZHS Centennial Quilt (white center)

Photos courtesy of Clereen Brunty

A Wall of Memories

By , 8 March, 2010, No Comment

Zephyrhills is getting a lot for her centennial! Besides having birthday video shout-outs, an entire book written about her life, and a whole weekend of partying, Zephyrhills is also getting her portrait painted.

104_0804104_0807Two volunteer artists by the name of Barbara Moore and Christi Spoto are painting a mural of Zephyrhills on the Wall of Hynes Discount Aluminum on 5th Avenue. Seeing as how the wall is almost the length of a city block, the finished piece will be huge! Both of these women are amazing. Barbara works during the day; Christie has other commitments and has been away from home for over five weeks now. They are both working hard — and often until dark — to get the mural ready for Founder’s Day.

104_0775104_0773The ladies started painting on January 25, 2010. They would have started earlier, but because Florida weather is so finicky this time of year, they were delayed. As is customary of Zephyrhills residents, the artists were showered with help and friendliness.  Rick Moore and the city workers had a scaffold made for them and placed cones to block off the area; Barbara and Rick donated their truck for paint and ladder storage; Brenda Welcher brought them water and gift certificates from local restaurants. Nearby business owners even offered their bathrooms and stores as an escape from the cold.

104_0791104_0803So far, the mural looks amazing! Its not hard to tell Barbara and Christi have worked extremely hard on this project they call their “wall of memories.” They have incorporated so much into the mural! There are trees (including the Camphor), Zephyr Park, the official centennial logo, schools, drawings of the town, and a train. They will continue to add more to the mural although it looks complete. They’re in for the home stretch, and if the weather permits, Barbara and Christi will be mostly finished by Founder’s Day.

Photos courtesy of Maria Spoto

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday

By , 5 March, 2010, 1 Comment

We salute January 15, 1929-the birthday of American clergyman, civil rights leader and activist, Martin Luther King, Jr., whose legacy brought progress on civil rights with attention to human rights in the U.S. This holiday causes us to reflect upon the diverse contributions that have been made to our own community and schools by a vast array of people who come from many backgrounds. This week we’d like to pay homage to a few exemplary folks who were role models in the African American community.

The first individual we have selected is the founder of Zephyrhills, Captain Howard B. Jeffries. Undoubtedly you have heard about him in relation to the land development genius, plotting and leadership of the emerging Zephyrhills back in 1909. It could also be that you are considering participation in the ‘Captain Jeffries look-alike contest’ which Main Street is scheduling? We wish to share however, another aspect of Mr. Jeffries leadership with you that we don’t think is widely recognized.

Captain Jeffries

Captain Jeffries

Captain Jeffries was the captain of a black infantry during the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F (which was a white infantry). Later however, he served as a Captain in the 72nd United States Colored Infantry which was organized in Covington, Kentucky.  The 72nd was organized sometime prior to July of 1864, but not earlier than the Emancipation Proclamation of September, 1862.  (St. Cloud Tribune (FL), April 1, 1920; War of the Rebellion, Series III, Volume IV, published 1900.)

Nick Linville, professional historian with Zephyrhills roots, who works with the Southeastern Archaeological Research (SEARCH), doing consulting on archaeological and historic preservation policy for clients as varied as the United States Navy, the Florida Dept. of Transportation, Progress Energy, and the National Park Service. His  professional research has taken him to archives in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Denver, and many places across the southeastern United States. Nick, a 1999 ZHS grad who also enjoys local history, unearthed this unforeseen civil war documentation of our founding father, just recently. Nick shared the following information:

The Civil War (1861-1865) was the first in which African Americans served in large numbers. Over 200,000 black men from both the North and the South served in the Unites States Army and Navy during the conflict. Issued in September of 1862, the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in states that were in rebellion and opened the door to the enlistment of black troops in the United States forces. The first African American regiments were raised in places that the Union Army had occupied such as New Orleans and the sea islands of South Carolina. Often, runaway slaves filled the ranks of these early regiments. Several Northern states began forming their own regiments midway through the war as African American men stepped forward to serve. While their participation in the armed forces was a significant advancement of the time, black troops in the Civil War were not permitted to serve as officers. By 1864, the raising of these troops was federalized and African American regiments were officially known as the United States Colored Troops.

One such regiment, the 72nd United States Colored Troops, was raised in Covington, Kentucky about 1864. Serving as Captain was none other than the man who founded Zephyrhills many years later, Howard B. Jeffries. Little is known as to why Jeffries was chosen for this position. He did have prior experience in the military, however, having served in the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry during the opening years of the war.

The founding of our own Zephyrhills was completed by a leader of African Americans troops who we would like to think had a intuitive perspective on the contributions that are derived from diverse viewpoints, experiences and history. Imagine if you will, what it must have been like in 1864, to be charged with a group of recruits who enlisted for the union (yes, the north) and fought in a complicated war? Mr. Jeffries must have had many conversations with his men about their families, passions, hopes and futures. We are so appreciative to Nick for bringing this information to the forefront.

So here in Zephyrhills and surroundings, African Americans have contributed much to our growth and development. African-Americans have been in Pasco County since at least 1812 and have been documented in the state of Florida since the time of the Spanish explorers brought slaves with them. African-American workers were instrumental in the construction of the rail tracks which included the Seaboard Airline in 1896 and later the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad which featured four passenger train stops daily. The Zephyrhills Depot Museum, now housed in the depot building, provides a historical image of the travel dynamics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; (the brick depot had wide overhangs, exterior platforms and segregated waiting rooms with areas for passenger travel and shipping.) The first black family to reside in Zephyrhills was that of Jake Giles who transferred from the Coastline Railroad in Chosawatchie, North Carolina. The story of this family and contributions is well documented in the book by Vicki Elkins and Margaret Seppanen, Zephyrhills From A to Z.

African American workers at Abbott Station

African American workers at Abbott Station

It is difficult to capture the contributions of African Americans to our community and Clereen and I feel inadequate in doing so. We are so fortunate to have a keeper of history here in Zephyrhills-Irene Dobson. Irene is an active member of the Zephyrhills Historical Association and has lived through some turbulent times with grace and compassion. Her involvement in the local schools as an advisory member, parent and student advocate served as a wonderful example. Irene Dobson, Frances Spoto and Delores Moore organized the first integrated Girl Scout troop. Joe Spoto shared with us a little-known vignette about the three scout leaders. He said a movement in Zephyrhills lead by city leaders in the 70’s advocated converting the scout park, Shepherd Park, into an adult park area and through the spunky leadership of Irene, Frances and Delores, they were able to save Shepherd Park for the young people. Robert Dobson and John Mathis started the first integrated boy scout troop around the 1970’s with wonderful successes. She served on the Board of Sunrise in Dade City. Irene is a guide in helping us to gain a perspective on the contributions of African Americans in our community and we share her passion for acknowledging these gifts.

For many years, African American workers were instrumental in lumbering sawmills in Zephyrhills.  I.A. Krusen who  13,000 acres, mostly on credit, for 2.75 per acre and originated Krusen Land & Timber Company provided many jobs and offered a company store.

Cuts Manning

Cuts Manning

Krusen Lumber Company

Krusen Lumber Company

In fact, the only Zephyrhills African-American School was located on the Krusen Lumber property from 1949-1955. The African American School had two teachers: Bessie Barefield who also served as Principal and Martha L. Lewis. Zephyrhills African-American students attended this local school but later were bussed to the Dade City Moore Academy (named after J.D. Moore, an early teacher.) Irene Dobson collected photos of that original school and students. She helped us painstakingly identify the students and she donated the photos to the Depot Museum.

Celia Linkey Anderson, ZHS Librarian and 1929 graduate wrote about the period of integration:

Integration in Pasco Public Schools went comparatively smoothly. This was in great part due to the efforts of the parents and school personnel.  Pasco County was still “small town” in outlook in the sixties, with enough good will on both sides to effect a reasonable transition. Some private schools were opened at this time and a few are still in operation. Yet it can certainly be said that we faced a challenging crisis if not nobly at least creditably.

Professor O.K. Mickens continued as principal of Mickens Middle School after integration and it is believed by many that his influence was one of the major reasons for the smooth transition. He worked tirelessly to help in the crisis, backed by experienced gained from 40 years in the local school system.

Front row: Mrs. Bessie Barefield, Teacher/Principal, Mary Etta Holmes, Wila Blue, Nancy Jones, Mary Alice Stewart; Second Row: Lonnie Turner, Bessie Mae Giles, Matie Holmes

Front row: Mrs. Bessie Barefield, Teacher/Principal, Mary Etta Holmes, Wila Blue, Nancy Jones, Mary Alice Stewart; Second Row: Lonnie Turner, Bessie Mae Giles, Matie Holmes

In July of 1967 the News reported on the HEW (Department of Health, Education and Welfare)-initiated faculty integration which ordered that at least 34 Black teachers be integrated into the various schools of the county as teachers.  In Zephyrhills, we were so fortunate to receive the professionals of Earnest Abner, Melvin Dennard, and Joyce Snow, who contributed incredible leadership to our schools. Coach Abner served for over 30 years as a P. E. Teacher and coach while Joyce Snow was a chemistry and algebra teacher. Melvin Dennard was the first Black administrator in Zephyrhills at an integrated school. One additional Zephyrhills teacher was Ophelia Frazier who taught Spanish at ZHS.

First African American school in Zephyrhills

First African American school in Zephyrhills

To feature some additional community role models, Dobson shared that a person who was fondly respected in the African American community in Zephyrhills as a local humanitarian was—Mr. George Green (1894-1977). He was an enthusiastic participant in the annual Founder’s Day Parade with his white horse, Peggy.  Possessing a strong work ethic, he toiled not only as the local junk trader but as an employee of Krusen Timber.  With his wife, Daisy Haines, Irene related that George epitomized a sense of community that enriched the lives of children and families as he was always doing good deeds and taking care of people.

George Green driving a float in the 1953 Founder's Day Parade with his horse, Peggy

George Green driving a float in the 1953 Founder's Day Parade with his horse, Peggy

Irene Dobson delivered an address for the Martin Luther King, Jr. event in Dade City on Monday. In the speech she chronicled the life of Dr. King. Here is an excerpt from her speech,

“Regarded as the most influential in the civil rights movement, Dr. King stirred the conscious of American society with his non-violent leadership that made him an example. In 1963 he lead the historic march in Washington, D.C. and addressed 200,000 people as he orated, ‘I have a dream.’ His message did not falter throughout a turbulent time and on the evening of April 3, 1968 in Memphis, he delivered yet another speech, I have seen the promise land.”

We indeed are fortunate to have the leadership of Irene Dobson. Thank you, Irene! We invite you to share additional contributions to commemorate our 100th anniversary.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on January 28, 2010.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Jerald Pricher

By , 5 March, 2010, 1 Comment

Renaissance man – A man who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both science and arts.

Have you heard the term, Renaissance man? As advocates of education, Madonna & Clereen truly hope that you were not ruminating over the 1994 comedy/movie of the same name by Penny Marshall but rather, the likes of the authentic Renaissance Man—none other than Leonardo da Vinci from the 15th century. Da Vinci was dubbed ‘RM’ because of his legendary art masterpieces as well as his intuitive and profound intellect—not to mention he was strikingly handsome, physically strong and possessing of a fine singing voice. His scientific and mathematic achievements were brilliant and the list goes on and on…a vegetarian who so cherished animals that he was known to purchase caged animals at the market just to set them free. Okay, get the idea? A person of multi-talents and interests!

Well, this week in Countdown, we set out to profile a very special and quite diverse individual from our Zephyrhills community who retired on January 8th from education after 32 years. We could not help but notice that our Zephyrhills person also possesses an array of diverse interests. Who is this person…it’s Zephyrhills’ own Jerald Pricher!

How do we (Madonna and Clereen) know Jerry?  Madonna weighs-in first: she first met Jerry in the 1970’s when she served as a fellow teacher with him but did not come to fully appreciate him until her own children, Jervis and Mamie, had the privilege of studying from him in his Algebra class in the mid-1990’s. He awakened a love of education and challenged them to a new level with humor, discipline, the spirit of competition, and witty charm.  They along with many other students will share some thoughts with you later on in the article. Clereen disclosed that from the class of 1973, she knew Jerry as an older student and remembered him emceeing events and running track. Later she worked with him on various alumni projects. We believe as you digest our Countdown article this week or perhaps revisit your knowledge of Jerry; you too will agree with us, that he is a ‘Renaissance guy’ for our community. He is a superb mathematician, skilled teacher, a father/brother/friend, an athlete turned coach, a referee at the many sports events, a historian/family genealogist and preserver of family and community history, a public servant, a student and teacher advocate and would you believe, a performer/singer?

Where did it begin? We did a bit of digging into school records and located some info. Along the way, we talked with a few folks—Sandra Pricher (sister), Betty Hall, Jean Murphy and others. Jerry is a 1969 graduate of Zephyrhills High School. He said it best when he word-smithed the following message on the school’s website that reveals a rather profound love and loyalty to the place:

“I entered first grade at ZHS in 1957, and graduated in our gym in 1969.  Ray Stewart was Principal at the time, so my roots go deep… I was in elementary school during the first man-into-space launches. We watched outside our classroom and listened on the radio. I was here in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated and was still here later when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy were also gunned down. Those were troubling times to be sure, but I always felt safe in that school.

I was here when ZHS won their first state championship in basketball. In fact, under the leadership of Jack Wilson, Chuck McKinney and Morris McHone, our teams went to the state tournament five years out of seven and won three championships. I was here when we finally got our gymnasium.”

ZHS 1968 gymnasium

ZHS 1968 gymnasium

Jerry was very active in high school. At the June 12, 1969 graduation of the 83 grads in his class, Jerald, son of Mr. and Mrs. Otis Pricher was awarded the coveted activities award. The week before, Principal Stewart had presented Pricher, along with Kathy Shannon, with the service award for ‘giving the most service to the school.’ This is little wonder because he functioned in numerous leadership capacities. School Daze columnist, Jannete Dunnigan, announced in her January 2nd ‘68 column:

“For the highly honored office of President of Student Council, we have the well experienced and qualified Jerry Pricher. Vice president is another experienced gentleman, Cliff Brown and two secretaries, Brenda Hughes and Valerie Wickstrom. Handling the expenditures will be Frankie Hall and parliamentarian is the re-elected Doy Smith. Sounds good, doesn’t it? With that group, it has to be.”

Pricher was prominent throughout the 66-69 school archives in presiding over assemblies, hosting fundraisers, and organizing his fellow students. In 68, the school sent Cliff Brown and him as their delegates to Louisiana for the National Student Councils Convention—quite the prestigious event of the day. The list is endless!

Pricher was a member of the ZHS Track; in April 17, 1965, the News reported, “Another school track and field record was shattered at East Bay on Friday… Jerry Pricher won first in the 880 with a time of 2:08.6.” The 1968 team consisted of Herbert Farrell, Larry Lindsay, Ruben Odom, Jerry Pricher, Dennis Hartley, Jim Streer, Dale Eady, Mike McCreadie, Ryan Gray, Ed Chadwell, Ulysses Alexander, John Mullin, Wally Reeves, Rocky Stanley, Mark Penny, Skip Stewart, Billy Poe, Doug Prowant, David Krystofiak, Cliff Brown, B.B. Lane, Richard Back, Richard McLellan, Alvin McKenzie, Clarence Odom, and Coach James E. Davis.  Ironically, or perhaps very logically, Jerry would later be the ‘Track Coach’ for the school and credit Davis, his track coach and later boss as his life mentor!

We discovered that Jerry starred in several drama productions: in 1969 it was Brides to Burn,  a 3-act comedy farce that teacher, Constance Kaylor directed, starring: Jerry Pricher, Bob Kinne, Melanie Massey, Anne Neal, Virginia Manley, Donna Samsom, Linda Wells, Barbara Rooks, Martha Colandria, Larry Bryant, Craig Palmer, Joy Reutimann, Joe Ahrens, Carolyn Dean, and Richard Miller. In 1968 it was Bill’s Night Out, directed by Marion Ditter, featuring: Donna Sansom, Joe Wells, Joe Ahrens, Susie Overhuls, Craig Palmer, Anna Doerr, Ann Howard, Jerry Pricher, Linda Martinson, Mary Grimes, Ingeborg Hennessy, Raymond Bohannon, Carol Burnside, Kathy Muse, Richard Miller, Sue Ellen Thompson, Gail Connolly and Gloria Gavin.

We also unearthed that Pricher was a member of a singing group, Sparkling Song Stylings by the Young’uns who were directed by Jean Murphy; they included: Larry Miller, Laura Achillich, Eloise Hall, Patty Hayden, Paul Woodruff, Lynn Murphy, Linda Duckett, Cliff Brown, Terri Rickard and Jerry Pricher.  In fact, Pricher’s singing talent earned him a soloist spot at the 1968 Baccalaureate service.  Just to fully document this, we called his singing director, Jean Murphy who told us, “I have known and loved Jerry Pricher since he was born. When I was Music Director at First Baptist Church, Jerry (around 8-years old) was in my Junior Choir. One day, we were practicing in the auditorium when I missed Jerry and discovered him crawling under the pews toward the door! A rough start, but Jerry turned out to be one of the better singers in the Youth Choir. He contributed his talent in many youth concerts also, with a small group of outstanding singers who presented special programs. Congratulations, Jerry, on your retirement!”

Pricher's teaching team in 1991-92-front row-Jean Mitchell; Team Leader-Jerry Pricher; back row-Skip Riley, David Bailey and Anne Lessard

Pricher's teaching team in 1991-92-front row-Jean Mitchell; Team Leader-Jerry Pricher; back row-Skip Riley, David Bailey and Anne Lessard

Sister, Sandy Pricher, told us that Jerry started teaching in August of 1978.  When he graduated from Stetson University, he worked in Orlando managing two different Pizza Huts before coming back to Zephyrhills. One of his long-time colleagues, Diane Nelson said, “Pricher’s retiring? That seems impossible.  When he joined the staff in 1978 it was ‘just for a year or two.’ Maybe we misunderstood him and he said ‘only for thirty-two.’ Teaching captures us, doesn’t it? In days of lore, his many buddies, Mike Kaylor, Dale Palmer, and David Bailey had many adventures together.”

Community involvement has been a passion for Pricher. He served as the President of the ZHS Alumni organization in the 1990’s and chaired the scholarship committee. Vicki Elkins, Director of Library and Museum Services in Zephyrhills, said, “Jerry has been a very dedicated and valued Library Board member and we appreciate him giving of his time and expertise to our Board. We wish him well in his retirement from teaching.” Jerry is the current President of the Board and has served on the board for over twelve years to assist Zephyrhills in maintaining the library for citizens of Zephyrhills and surrounding community.

Comments from his daughters, colleagues and former students best capture Pricher’s contributions:

Whenever my sister and I have ever been around town with our dad, he has constantly been stopped by former students who are very happy to see him. They call him, ‘Mr. Pricher’ or ‘Coach’ no matter how old they are and my dad remembers them all. It’s inspiring to see what an impact he’s made on his students that they go out of their way to greet him and express their appreciation! ~ Nicole Pricher, Class of 2004 and sister, Jean Pricher

I had the privilege of having Jerry Pricher as my 7th grade math teacher early in his teaching career in 1983. Although, at age 12, I was already taller than he was, he is truly a teacher that I have always looked up to and respected.   Jerry’s teaching philosophy could be summarized by the phrase, “Set high expectations for your students and they will rise to the occasion.” I continue to demonstrate this philosophy in teaching my own mathematics courses at the University of Arkansas.  Whether he was making sure I displayed mathematically correct steps on homework assignments in the classroom, or whether he called over-the-back or 3-second lane violations on me on the basketball court as a referee, he kept me in line to ensure that I was doing the best in my endeavors. Jerry Pricher was an inspirational teacher, a mentor, and a family friend. He, along with my father, is one of the few teachers who have had a deep and profound impact on my life. So, thank you, Jerry Pricher, for your many years of service in education, and congratulations on a job well done! Bravo! May God richly bless you!~Jeanine Boyd Myers, Class of 1988, Professor of Math at University of Arkansas

“I still remember the excited anticipation of finding out whether my daily answer was correct and I still remember the excitement of running the last lap of track practice. Whether in the math classroom or on the field, Mr. Pricher left a mark on all of us who were lucky enough to learn from him. The foundations of mathematics I learned with Mr. Pricher affected me throughout college as my choice of study, economics, habitually drew upon those foundations. But it wasn’t the actual math that prepared me for my challenges in college and on the tennis court. It was the skills on how to attack everyday challenges where Mr. Pricher’s teachings were truly effective. He instilled in me a sense of passion, commitment, and excellence towards each of my endeavors. I truly appreciate everything I learned from Mr. Pricher, and Stewart Middle School will not be same without him. I congratulate him on a wonderful career.” ~Suneal Bedi, Class of 2005, Graduate student at Harvard

I’m glad to hear that Mr. Pricher is getting recognition for his wonderful teaching career.  While I was in his class in middle school, his teaching style and motivational techniques really made me want to do the best I could.  The competitions he started among my classmates brought our learning experience to a whole new level.  He made learning fun, and some of his techniques I brought to my own mathematics classroom.  I always felt as if he had the students’ best interest at heart.  My experience in his classroom was truly a very positive one. ~Erika Jarvi, Class of 2004, Teacher at Wiregrass Ranch High School, Wesley Chapel

Junior high is often a hard time to remember.  Sandwiched between the early, formative memories of elementary school and the more dramatic ones of high school, junior high is often a forgotten experience.  This is not the case for us.  We vividly remember the passion, intelligence, dedication, and spirit of Mr. Pricher.  Junior high was memorable precisely because of him.  He was a superb teacher and indeed a “Renaissance Man.” He always encouraged us to be more than astute mathematicians (In fact, Sonu recalls a short but spirited stint on the track team!).  He deftly instilled in us a desire not only to do well academically but also to realize that there is more to life than mastering an equation or winning a math competition.  Though we may not have internalized this lesson as quickly as he would have liked, it resonates with us today.  To say we fondly recall the time we spent in his classroom is an understatement.   We are so honored to say that Mr. Pricher was our teacher. ~ Monu & Sonu Bedi, Class of 1993, attorney with Ropes & Gray in Boston and  professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Mr. Pricher was one of the toughest teachers I have ever had, but also one of my favorites!  He even taught me how to run on my toes! ~ Jervis Wise, Class of 1997, Attorney with Bjorn Brunvand, Clearwater

There are only a handful of teachers that I remember well and I want you to know that you are one of the few that stand out for me! Even though if memory serves I spent the majority of your class in the ‘Ozone Layer,’ I am so happy for you in your retirement and hope you enjoyed all of your time spent in the school system but most importantly I hope that you enjoy yourself now more than ever.  Thanks for all of your years of commitment! Live it up! ~ Angela Belcher, Class of 1994, Zoo Keeper for Primates, Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa

Jerry was a great teacher of young people and he used math as only one tool to do so.  He taught the value of honesty, responsibility, dependability, teamwork and a host of other very important values.  He was there to help the maturing process of students with a great degree on old fashioned hard work, focus, and fun.  I never had a time when any student, parent, or person spoke negatively to me about him.  However, it would not have done them any good because to me he was the best, is the best, deserves the best, and that’s exactly what we want for him, The Very Best!! ~ Randall Belcher, retired Pasco County Principal and son, Dr. David Belcher, Class of 1997, David is a physician in Anchorage, Alaska.

Mr. Pricher had an impact on me as a student, and on the entire school. I will always remember Mr. Pricher as a teacher who was in full support of me and my dreams, as he was with every student. I remember him at various games and shows at our schools in Zephyrhills. I was always jealous of my brothers, Matt and Nathan, because they got to have such a wonderful teacher, but even though I was never technically one of his students, he still cared. Now that’s a great teacher! Stewart will definitely miss you, and all of its future students, are definitely missing out. ~Elizabeth McLaughlin, Class of 2011, Professional Actress from Burbank, California

Jerry, Remember the auckies, wedgies, head butts, body slams?  You survived the weird friends of high school. You survived the Class of 69. You survived raising girls. You survived teaching for decades – I guess you truly are a Survivor!  Best to you in your retirement – you deserve it! ~Carolyn Dean, class of 1969, City of Zephyrhills

Mr. Pricher was one of the best teachers.  I credit him with giving me an understanding of mathematics that I never gained with any other instructor.  He had a creative approach to teaching that inspired us to do well.  He taught us to ‘think outside of the box.’ I honestly believe that if I had not been fortunate to have him as my teacher, I would have never had the understanding that has continued to sustain me throughout my education.  I just thought of him the other day when someone was asking me what percentage is equal to 2/3!  There are few people/teachers in your life that really make a difference to the person you become!  I wish I could have had him for every math class all the way through my bachelor’s degree.  I am so thankful to have had him at a very pivotal point in my life.  He wrote an insightful recommendation for my college application and he does not forget about his students after they leave his class. ~Brittani Back, Class of 1999, Tampa

Mr. Pricher was an excellent teacher who was always trying his hardest to teach us numerous ways to solve algebra problems.  He also had a great sense of humor and excellent classroom management (you couldn’t get away with anything in his class, not that I ever tried! I wasn’t that brave).  I can remember the girls trying to pass notes via their Keds® tennis shoes, or jean jackets.  Ah, those were the days. ~Jennifer Horn Collier, class of 2003, Middle School Math Teacher, Lithia, FL

Mr. Jerry Pricher was my math teacher. My Grandpa Ernest Kretschmar, Jr., was his math teacher, and my dad’s senior patrol leader in Cub Scouts. He would had word problem games with MacMutts token money that was used as a creative reinforcer. Congrats on the retirement, Mr. Pricher! You earned it! Hugs! ~Lea Kretschmar, Class of 2003, Tampa

Mr. Pricher is an incredible teacher and individual.  I was privileged to be in his class and have continued to learn from him.  He has a unique way of tapping his students’ competitive instincts and pinpointing what drives each individual to excel.  He sets a high bar for his students, but arms them with the academic and life skills they need to meet it both inside and outside his classroom.  With his caring yet no-nonsense approach, I could always rely on him as a trusted mentor.  Mr. Pricher’s class was always a highlight of my day, and looking back, on my educational career, he is one-of-a-kind for sure, and our schools and community have been privileged to have him.  As I left Stewart Middle School, I remember that some of his parting wisdom was to, “remember to stop and smell the pizza,” and enjoy all that life has to offer.  I hope that retirement will give him some more time to do that in his own life.  Congratulations and most of all, thank you! ~ Mamie Wise, Class of 2001, Attorney with D.L.A. Piper in New York City

To close, James E. Davis, Jerry’s coach (principal while a student) and later employer-principal left us with this story: “ I have the highest admiration for Jerry Pricher. As his track coach, Jerry initially was a sprinter and I recognized that he had a lot of endurance and personal drive. I talked him into running the 880. He performed great throughout the season but there was one boy named Meengs from Fort Myers that Jerry just could not beat. We set out to win the Conference Championship and set up a plan. We trained, strategized and decided that when I told him to kick (sprint) at the last 200 mark, he would do it. Sure enough, 15 yards from the finish, he overtook Meengs. ‘It happened!’ Jerry is a special educator, coach and person—just like one of my own kids! I recruited and convinced him to become a teacher. I knew he could teach! I saw him operate as student council president—great speaker, logical, sequential. He liked teaching. He reminds me a great deal of his father, Otis—one of the finest men in the world! Yup—I needed a math teacher and talked him into it!  Jerry is a special person to me.”

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on January 14, 2010.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise