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Sat, Aug. 24

Camp Verde man still influenced by teacher after 60 years

Courtesy photo

Henry (Tex) Ellison (center left) with brothers, Marvin (left) and Lloyd (right), saw his former English Teacher 100-year-old Mora Boone of Beasley, Texas in May at a reunion.

Even though the event happened more than 60 years ago, the story remains timeless.

The story is so touching that it even attracted the attention of American Profile magazine. The profile is featured on Page 6 of American Profile, included in Sunday's edition of The Verde Independent/Camp Verde Bugle.

Henry (Tex) Ellison of Camp Verde says Mora Boone, his former English teacher, changed his life forever. Without her positive influence, he maintains his life would have gone in a totally different direction, probably not for the best either.

"It came about because of your paper. I read the story. If anybody was influenced by your teacher, write an article of 250 words or less," Ellison said, explaining that he did and his story was accepted for publication.

Going back to his youth, Ellison tells of extremely tough times in a community of 200 people. He was only 15 when his father died. There were eight kids in the family. Discouraged and poor with too many mouths to feed, Ellison said he had decided to drop out of school.

"I was going to quit school and go to work picking cotton or in a gas station," he says relaying the story of those troubled years.

It was then that fate and Mrs. Boone stepped in. Her husband was the school's superintendent and their son, James, was a good friend. Ellison had known the family since first grade.

"The Boones had me work at the school," he said explaining that he did handy-man chores such as trimming hedges, re-aligning courts, cleaning windows and washing buses.

The work and pay kept him in school not to mention giving him the extra emotional support the young teen craved. Ellison would go on to graduate from high school. He then joined the U.S. Air Force where he became a World War II airplane mechanic and went to bomber school. He spent three years in the military during the war years as a tech sergeant. He would fly 33 missions, in what he describes as "some close calls." It seems fate again stepped in.

He believes, he says, that Mrs. Boone saw something special in him as a young boy. He said she used to joke, "If I ever took a trip around the world, I would want to take Willie (Ellison's nickname in those days) as my mechanic." Even as a young teen, his mechanical aptitude was developing, a gift that would eventually provide a livelihood in one form or another throughout his adulthood.

In later years, Ellison built an auto-mechanic's garage in McGuireville (the one with an airplane on top), while working as a cross-country power line mechanic, a career he would eventually retire from.

Ellison is now 80. Boone recently turned 100. Ellison says he still sees the special schoolteacher each May at school reunions.

"She remembers me. The minute she sees me at the reunions she says, 'Well we made it again, Willie.'"

Ellison says his former teacher is still "sharp as a tack." Wife Mary though adds with a smile that when the editor of American Profile called to talk to Boone, she hung up thinking the editor was selling magazines.

The Ellisons have lived on and off in Camp Verde since 1968. Ellison says the small community is "the best area he has ever lived in." Likewise, he feels similarly about Mrs. Boone; that she was the best teacher, the one that "most influenced his life."

He agrees that a schoolteacher can make all the difference in the world in a child's life.

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