Frances Miller Haynes will turn 100 years old Oct. 1. Appropriately, she will celebrate in advance Saturday in the building with which she is most identified – Candler Street School just off North Green Street in Gainesville.
For it was there where she spent a significant chunk of her career in education, first as a teacher, then as principal. It was a home away from home over two decades, from 1942 to 1962.
Haynes’ career started as a first-grade teacher in Millen when she was just 17 years old. A malaria outbreak just about did in the school and community, and she returned to college. She later taught at Palmetto and Americus before marrying Johnny Miller in 1939 and moving to Gainesville the next year. C.J. Cheves, superintendent, coaxed her into teaching in the city schools.
After a year at Main Street School, she taught sixth grade at Candler Street until 1954, when she became principal and served till 1962. She went on to teach and become assistant superintendent of Hall County schools, retiring in 1970.
She proudly and fondly recalls students who became lawyers, doctors or advanced in other successful careers. Too many to name, but she mentions a few who have stayed close to home: Julius Hulsey, Dr. Tim Fulenwider, Rafe Banks, Sonny Sykes, Jimmy Butterworth, Greg Delong, Pepper and Cleve Brown.
The main difference she sees in schools today is teachers not being in full command of their classrooms. “Teachers are a child’s mother during the day,” Mrs. Haynes said. “Children and their parents looked to the teachers. That’s not true today.
“I looked forward to every day, getting up and going to school and seeing the children. I think they learned more by having a good relationship with their supervisors.”
Discipline wasn’t a serious problem, but she’d give “a little paddling” when necessary, though she guesses no more than eight or 10 during her career.
Mrs. Haynes cared for her husband, Johnny Miller, during his nine-year illness, and she filled her time with crocheting, sewing and needlework. After his death, she married Joe Haynes in 1993, and he has since died.
She has spent time in retirement traveling, gardening and playing bridge. She served on the Gainesville-Hall County Boys’ Club board of directors, has been active in First Baptist Church on Green Street since 1941 and in Azalea Garden Club for 66 years. A plaque marks a maple tree planted in her honor by the garden club on the Candler Street School grounds in 2006.
Mrs. Haynes continues to grow flowers and raise vegetables in her garden on Longview Drive. A former custodian at Candler Street School, Ned Jackson, helps her every week.
“That’s my hobby,” she says. “I can’t wait to get out in the spring. I fill up my freezer every summer.”
This is the first year in a while she hasn’t planted a fall garden, primarily because groundhogs and possibly deer have helped themselves to her vegetables.
An animal lover, she has always had pets to keep her company. She had a Chihuahua for 18 years before it died this summer, and another dog for many years before. She also has a bird, and the newcomer to the house is Tippy, a cat.
Lucy Crowley, a niece, marvels how her aunt worked through knee replacement surgery at age 92, then back surgery.
“It was truly amazing,” she said. Mrs. Haynes, though, says, “I just did what the doctor told me to do and didn’t fuss about it.”
While she still gets around fine, driving herself around town, taking a turn driving in three bridge club car pools, or up to Jaemor Farms, Mrs. Haynes did allow her son-in-law, Harrison Haynes, secure a scooter for her. She has used it to visit neighbors and putter around in her garden.
She never had children of her own, but when she married Joe Haynes, she inherited Harrison and others in the Haynes family. Now there are five great-grandchildren. That’s what she attributes to her long life – being around children all her life, in school and family.
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Bates Carter and Co. is providing the venue for Mrs. Haynes’ reception in the former school from 2-5 p.m. Saturday. Her former students and colleagues would be especially welcome to attend.
The Candler Street School building, which also houses Don Carter Realty and Woodmen of the World, is just three years older than Mrs. Haynes, having been built in 1911. It closed as a school in 1978 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times.