Wittes bid fond farewell to Lockhart
By Alonzo Garza
For 22 years the people of Caldwell County and the Lockhart Independent School District had the privilege of knowing Jeff and Judy Witte through their service to the community and the district.
The Witte’s lives, and plans to remain in Lockhart changed in December when Judy’s mother passed away.
“We have known for
many years that we would eventually move to Burton and settle on the farm that Judy was raised on, “Jeff said. “We just did not think it would be this quick. After Judy’s mom passed, we felt we needed to get down there to take care of the farm and house as soon as we could. We both applied for jobs in the area. Judy was able to get a nursing job at the Brenham State School pretty quick with the help of her sister. I had a much tougher time since there were no Agriculture Science teaching job openings in the area.”
Witte would have been happy to remain in Lockhart doing what he had been doing in the meantime, so he made arrangements to stay with a friend during the week and travel to Burton on the weekends. Fortunately, a position similar to Witte’s opened at Brenham High School. After debating the pros and cons, he accepted the job.
“I did not want to leave Lockhart this late in the summer,” Witte said. “I felt I had to take advantage of the opportunity since there was no guarantee I would have the same opportunity in the future. We are very happy in the Burton and Brenham area since we have a lot of family and friends we have known for many years.”
Despite their connections to the Burton area, the Wittes felt a special connection to Lockhart
“We were blessed with many positive experiences during our time in Lockhart. The most important blessing being that [the pair’s daughters] Brittany and Kelly were both born and raised in Lockhart and received all their public education in the Lockhart school system,” Jeff said. “We were very blessed to have a very large extended family. Our church family with Pastor Walther and all the members of Grace Lutheran Church was so instrumental in our spiritual development. The teachers and administration of Lockhart ISD contributed so much to the overall development of Brittany and Kelly.”
Since 1986, Jeff worked for LISD in a variety of positions. When he first arrived in Lockhart, he served as a Biology teacher, head boys basketball coach and boys and girls golf coach from 1986-1994.
During the 1994 basketball season, Witte experienced a mild heart flare up with irregular heartbeats and decided it was time to get out of the stressful life of a basketball coach.
An opportunity became available in the Career and Technology Education department with the retirement of Lowe Galle and Witte began teaching technology and industrial classes as well as Industrial Cooperative Training (Co-Op) classes. A year later Witte moved into the Agricultural Science Department and worked with Jim Sells.
From 1995-2008, Witte taught in the Ag. Science Dept., coached golf on and off with Ralph Salazar and more recently, coached volleyball for one year.
Although Judy worked as a school nurse for the Hays School District for 19 years, she spent the last three years serving the Lockhart community as the school nurse at Bluebonnet Elementary.
The Wittes praised the adult leaders and advisors of the Lockhart Future Farmers of America (FFA) and the 4-H Club for helping to guide and shape their daughters into who they are today.
Jeff also praised the “West Live Oak Bunch,” saying they were fortunate to have such good neighbors and friends.
“We had some real special friends,” Jeff Witte said in a written statement on Friday, July 18. “Friends such as Tommy and Phyllis Raemsch, Carl and Nancy Ohlendorf, Ken and Cindy Moreland, Billy and Jackie Koehler, Alton and Vicki Homann, all the Antons, Gerald, Leonard, Dave, Walter and LaVerne, the West Live Oak Bunch, Schulles, Smiths and Hamblins and many more too numerous to mention, that affected our lives in many positive ways. We will miss them all dearly.”
Jeff spoke fondly of his time coaching for LHS. He mentioned the changes he had seen during his time and said the people who worked with him during his tenure enhanced his experience.
“My time spent with the Lockhart Athletic Department was very rewarding,” he said. “There were so many student athletes and parents that allowed us to be a part of their lives and for that we are grateful. Many coaches have come and gone during our time in Lockhart, yet some things remain constant. Peggy Voigt and Jim De La Cruz are the backbone of the athletic department and deserve special thanks for all they do.”
Witte also thanked his teammates on the LHS CATE faculty.
“The CATE faculty and staff was second to none in their help and support of my family over the years,” Witte said. “We cannot say enough good things about the “old timers” such as Alice Hamblin, Julie Hitter, Trisch Hess, Joan Williams. My latest work with the FFA has been very rewarding and it would not have been possible without the tremendous support and help from Mark Parrish, Weldon Whalen and Justin Saunders as co-advisors. The unbelievable administrative support of Larry Ramirez and John Henk allowed Mark, Weldon, Justin and me to do our thing without interference.”
By far the most difficult thing about leaving for the Wittes was, having to say goodbye to those closest to them at their jobs, the students.
“The toughest phone calls I have ever made were to the returning members of the Dairy and Wildlife team members,” Witte said. “Wesley Barker, Logan Lemons, Speedy Dozier, Matthew Rocha, Randy Gott and Yogi Ethredge, I felt deserved to hear from me that I was leaving. I did not want them to hear it through the grapevine. These students were extremely successful in making it to the State FFA contests this past year and I know they have what it takes to make it back again this coming year.”
Judy’s work experience with LISD, although relatively short, was extremely gratifying, she said. She was fortunate to work with a great group of people and developed long lasting friendships with Connie Etheredge, Karla Tate, Debbie Galmore, Marilyn Legan and many others. She felt the parental support she received at Bluebonnet was outstanding.
“Our entire family will be forever indebted to the community of Lockhart and LISD for everything they have done for us over the past 22 years,” Witte said. “If any of you are ever in the area, look us up in Burton. We would love to see all of our Lockhart friends.”