Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

STILWELL, HENRY WESLEY (1886–1959). Henry W. Stilwell, teacher, school administrator, and state education official, was born near Lone Oak, Texas, on August 4, 1886, the son of Thomas Pride and Agnes (Jones) Stilwell. His father was a country schoolteacher and telephone businessman. Stilwell graduated from high school in Lone Oak in 1902 and was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Texas in Austin in 1909. From 1909 to 1920 he held a variety of school positions in Texas. He was a teacher in Waxahachie, a summer-school instructor and special lecturer at the University of Texas, an acting professor of education at the College of Industrial Arts (now Texas Woman's University) in Denton, an associate professor of English at West Texas State Teachers College in Canyon, and a principal in Amarillo and Tyler. In 1920 he moved to Texarkana to become school superintendent. During his tenure the school system was vastly expanded. He served as president of the Texas State Teachers Association in 1932–33 and later was a longtime chairman of the association's legislative committee. In the 1940s Stilwell was among 130 school superintendents appointed to the O'Daniel Committee on Reorganization of Schools and subsequently served on the Gilmer-Aiken Commission, where he worked for legislative approval of the reforms proposed by the O'Daniel committee. These reforms, embodied in the 1949 Gilmer-Aiken Laws, included the reorganization of school administration and financing and represented some of the most significant changes made in Texas schools in the twentieth century. In 1927 Stilwell inspired local civic leaders to establish Texarkana College. He served jointly as school superintendent and president of the college until 1955, when he became the college's first full-time president. He held this position until his death four years later. Stilwell earned a master's degree from the University of Texas in 1919 and received an honorary doctorate from Southwestern University in Georgetown in 1943. He was a lifelong Methodist. He died in Texarkana on November 29, 1959, and was survived by his wife, Jesse Maud (Weatherly), two sons, and one daughter. He is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery, Texarkana. The retired-teachers' home in Waco is named for Stilwell.

Texarkana Daily News, November 30, 1959. Texarkana Gazette, November 30, 1959. Texas School Business, December 1959. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. (Thomas H. and Henry W. Stillwell)

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "STILWELL, HENRY WESLEY," accessed August 17, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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