came to school in Pangburn in 1938, and I believe that was the same year Miss Connie came to teach. I thought Connie Yingling was so pretty. Her hair was dark, her lips were full, and her eyes were large and brown. The most beautiful thing about her was her smiling voice. She used that pleasant voice to both praise and correct us. We felt honored and edified. She cared about us. We loved her.
Miss Connie’s life had not been easy up to that point. She had remained in a country school an extra year because of the distance to the high school. Then her family moved into Pangburn. Those were the Depression years and her father was very ill. He died later in 1943. After finishing high school at the age of 19, she went on to Galloway College for two years to obtain a teaching license.
Her first teaching job was in a country school, teaching all eight grades, building wood fires, and cleaning the schoolroom. All this for $40 a month, $8 of which went for her board.
The next year she went to Russell and got a raise to $60 a month. That year holds special memories for her, memories we will tell you about later. Her next move was to Hickory Plains in Cross County. It was a nice school and she enjoyed teaching second and third grades for three years. Her parents needed her very badly, so she decided to go home. She took a job at the Pangburn School, but there wasn’t enough money to pay the teachers. The received “promise to pay” warrants that Connie traded at a discount for the things she needed. She got an electric refrigerator.
Connie had continued to work on her degree at State Teachers College in Conway and at Harding. She finished in 1936. As mentioned earlier, Connie started at Pangburn in 1938, and except for one year because of illness, she continued to teach there until 1972.
I asked Connie if she could estimate the number of young people whose lives she had influenced. She did not venture a number but said that many of her classes were large. I am sure the number would amaze us all. Most former students claim her for his or her very own. Recently I heard a girl from the Class of 1948 telling how Miss Connie had accepted the sponsorship of their class. The lady said “She guarded, led and stood by us until we graduated.” She did the same for our class several years earlier.
Schools could not fill all of Connie Yingling’s needs. She always worked tirelessly in her church. She joined the Order of the Easter Star in 1933 and has always held leadership positions in that organization. Even now she is secretary. In 1966 she was selected Grand Chapter Mom over all of Arkansas. She also does volunteer work. One year, she was president of the Auxiliary at the White County Hospital. She also works in these other clubs: Business and Professional Women at Heber Springs, Delta Kappa Gamma, and the Extension Homemakers.
Connie has traveled extensively. Twice, she went to Europe, Hawaii, Canada and Alaska. Stateside, she has traveled east coast to west coast. Many of the trips were made with the different groups to which she belongs.
We thought Miss Connie had done it all. Well, not quite. She had never married. While she was teaching at Russell, she boarded with the Patterson family and met the couple’s handsome son Kie Patterson. Kie later married a friend of Connie’s and the couple raised two fine sons. They lived in Conway and then in Missouri, so Connie seldom saw them. After a 50-year marriage, Kie’s wife died. When Connie sent a sympathy card, they renewed their friendship and were later married in 1985. They had a big church wedding. “I think I surprised the whole town,” Connie said. “I know I surprised myself.” Connie and Kie now live in Searcy. Both are involved in many clubs, including the White County Historical Society.
A few years ago Connie was honored with a “Miss Connie Day” at Pangburn School. She was inducted into the Pangburn School Hall of Fame as its first member, and the new cafeteria bears is named for her. The parents and school board members are mostly her former students.
Connie and Kie Patterson remained very active well into their 90's. Kie died in 2006, and Connie died at age 96, Sunday, March 25. Connie gives God all the glory for her long and wonderful life. One person can indeed make a difference. Connie Yingling Patterson did.
(The author is a member of the White County Historical Society.)
The author, Averil King Beaver, is shown at right on the back row, and standing in front of her is her subject, “Miss Connie.” This is a group of 11th and 12th grade Pangburn students after a ride to Hot Springs in the back of an open truck in 1940 or ’41, according to Lillie Mae Hardcastle. Shown are (left to right): front row – Voleta Joyner, Doris King, Lila Durham, Lillie Mae Hardcastle (behind Lila), Ruth Carter (in black just behind Lillie Mae), Odell Cathy, June Fields, Harley Bridges (wearing wide brim hat), Clarence Henderson, Billy Willis Davis, Freeman Bryant and Bryant Henry Anders; second row, standing – Jack Albert, Boyce Martin, Maxie Sharp, Harold Cofer, Eugene Treat (in letter jacket), A.J. Wiggs, William Gentry (in letter jacket), Thomas Anders, Raymond George, Grayson Lewis, Adrian Hale, Pauline Fredrick, Emma Lea Slaten, Maxine Drake, Bill Haynes, Lee Steward, teacher Miss Connie Yingling; back row – Crosby Bryant, Arvin Edwards, Leroy Baker, Nell Meacham, Lorene Floyd, Mazelle Baker, Sue Castor, Marcella Snow and Averil King.