Midlothian and Maypearl residents as well as many throughout Ellis County mourned the loss of Wilburn Roesler on Monday with a service at the Midlothian Conference Center. Roesler passed peacefully in his home on July 4, 2013 of complications from Parkinson’s disease.
W.G., as he was known by his friends, who easily numbered in the hundreds throughout Ellis County, was respected and an inspiration to anyone who knew him well.
He began his career as an educator at Midlothian ISD in 1959, hired by L.A. Mills, superintendent at that time, as a science teacher. The two men found common ground in the way they managed a frugal budget and an instant bond formed. W.G. excelled at his position and requirements and quickly earned additional responsibilities as the athletic director, head football and track coach.
At his funeral service, officiated by the Rev. Dave Wyrtzen, W.G.’s close friends Ronnie Joe Clanton, Randall Hill and Frank Seale spoke about his influence on them and encouragement.
“He was an old school educator and believed that you need to discipline and challenge children, because he cared for them,” Wyrtzen said. “Wilburn was used as the coach to put the fear of God in those students and changed their lives forever. He taught students to respect themselves and encouraged them to finish their education.”
Wyrtzen told a story as a perfect example of Wilburn’s hard-nosed style and unwavering passion to see students better themselves. A close friend of W.G.’s on the school board asked him to reach out to a father with a misguided son.
“The son was struggling in school and stopped coming to school at all. The father came to Wilburn and asked him to help with his son,” Wyrtzen said. “Wilburn asked the father if he would let him do anything necessary to get the son back in line, and the father answered yes. He reached down and picked up a hammer and said he would hit the kid between the eyes every time until he got in line. He of course didn’t do anything of the sort, but that perfectly describes Roesler.”
Wyrtzen counts himself among those whose families and children benefitted from his passion as an educator.
“It was a real honor to give back to Wilburn and his family by officiating his service, because he has invested so much in our family,” he said.
After reversing a 33 consecutive losing streak at Northwest ISD in 1966 as the football program head, W.G. returned to his roots by taking a high school counselor position at Midlothian ISD in 1972. He was quickly promoted to high school principal the following year, where he remained for the next 18 years of his career. He loved being a part of the school system and the community of Midlothian. They always held a special place in his heart as he remained an active member of the community throughout the remainder of his life.
During the latter stage of his career, W.G. had a desire to lead a school district. In 1991 he accepted the position of superintendent for Maypearl ISD, where he spent the next nine years.
Joyce Armstrong, Maypearl ISD’s business manager during that time, recounted how W.G. restored the district’s fiscal stability and led MISD to prosper in his time as superintendent.
“He built our reserve funds back up to a stable level and turned around Maypearl ISD’s financial status,” Armstrong said and laughed as she recalled his sense of humor. “On occasion he would ask me to do something that was incredibly hard and I would say, ‘I don’t think I can do that.’ He would reply, ‘if it was easy we’d get the girl scouts to do it.’”
The district realized many facility improvements through bond programs that he led, including a new high school, new gymnasium, new agriculture facility, administration office and improvements to the track and football field.
“Those were the best nine years that I had working for the district, and we were all sad to see him retire, though we saw it coming,” Armstrong said. “He was one of those bosses that it didn’t matter what he asked you to do – you tried to do whatever it was to the best of your ability for him.”
As she sat in the audience at the funeral service, Armstrong nodded as others remembered how tight-fisted and frugal W.G. could be. She thought of a time when he drove her and other staff members to the Region 10 conference in Dallas.
“He drove an old, gold suburban and on our way back it broke down,” she said. “Instead of calling a wrecker he called Jimmy Ledbetter, the maintenance man for the district and told him to bring a chain and come tow that suburban back with the district’s old, red truck. We waited in the Texas summer heat until Jimmy finally found us and towed the car all the way back to Maypearl.”
During his tenure as superintendent, current Maypearl ISD Superintendent Ronnie Neill had the privilege of working under him as the elementary school principal.
“I respected him more than any man I knew other than my dad,” Neill said. “I probably worked the hardest I ever have under him, but it was the most fun. He had a way of making you want to do and be your best for him. He was so charismatic and could enter a room and immediately draw a crowd around him.”
Neill recounted W.G.’s passion for every student, loving and caring for them and constantly saying and showing that each was worthy of fighting for so they would earn their education.
After retirement, W.G. was honored by having sports complexes in both Maypearl and Midlothian named after him. The W.G. Roesler Track and Field in Maypearl is currently under a $1.4 million renovation and the W.G. Roesler Sports Complex in Midlothian includes the baseball field, the track, and the field house complexes.
He also took on interim superintendent positions at numerous schools in Ellis County including Palmer, Red Oak, Italy, Milford and Midlothian. Wyrtzen joked with W.G. at the weekly Rotary Club meeting that he was a “troubleshooting superintendent.”
“I teased him about being retired and taking all these interim positions,” he said, “but it was out of his passion for excellence and bringing out the best in adults and students.”
Wyrtzen brought the service to close by telling of W.G.’s passion for fishing and his famous line, “You may not be big, but you’re on the wrong line today” whenever he hooked and reeled a fish in.
“I drove home the message of the ‘ichthys’ symbol and the Greek word for fish, tying that to the promise in Jesus Christ,” Wyrtzen said. “I told all of his four grandkids to remember that big smile W.G. had when he was fishing and know they would see that smile again through Jesus’ salvation.”
More than anything in his life, W.G. revered his family. His life was dedicated to providing for its love, encouragement, and support. Beyond working, virtually every moment of his life was spent with his wife, children, or grandchildren. He never missed important events in their lives, from the many football and basketball games and track meets that he attended, to school awards, to graduations, to weddings, to the birth of grandchildren, and then grandparent’s days and grandchildren events. He was there for all, offering words of encouragement and displaying his pride.
W.G. touched and influenced literally thousands of lives, and he will be missed as an educator and a friend, but mostly, he will be missed as a loyal and loving husband, dad and papa.
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