MIDLOTHIAN — One of Midlothian’s most well-known and beloved community leaders, T.E. Baxter, passed Wednesday, Sept. 4. Thomas Elisha “T.E.” Baxter was born May, 3 1920 on his grandfather’s farm at the corner of Walnut Grove and Mockingbird Lane, and he was the oldest son of Herman and Jessie Baxter.
In January 1947, T.E. married Ruby Mae Boyd and began attending college. He graduated in 1949 with a secondary education degree in history with a minor in Bible English. He began his career as an educator in Walnut Springs where he taught typing and history, but in 1956 T.E. moved his family back to his hometown of Midlothian.
Sadly, Ruby died in October 1981 and T.E. and Ruth Johnson married on June 18, 1988. He served in many capacities in the community including as president of the civic center, Parent-Teacher Association, Historical Board, American Legion for 28 years and school system.
He served for many years first as a teacher of fifth through eighth grades, then as a principal. He also served as principal over the kindergarten through first grades at Laura Jenkins Elementary School. T.E. served for 29 years as a teacher or principal throughout his career at Midlothian ISD. For his contributions to the district and standing as an educator in the community, in 1988 MISD named T.E. Baxter Elementary School in his honor. He spent many years greeting students and reading to classes on a weekly basis after retiring as an educator in 1985.
“Midlothian ISD is saddened to hear of the passing of T.E. Baxter. Mr. Baxter had a storied career with MISD – a district he loved. He will be greatly missed,” MISD Superintendent Dr. Jerome Stewart said.
In 1954, T.E. was a charter member of the Walnut Springs Lions Club, and after moving to Midlothian immediately became an active member in the Midlothian Lions Club, serving in every officer position in the club.
“He touched the life of nearly every person in this town,” Midlothian Lions Club member Bob Himmel said. “It’s a sad day for us that we lost T.E.”
Himmel served as secretary under T.E. and fondly remembered serving in the club alongside him.
“He was the nuts and bolts of the whole outfit. He held it all together,” Himmel said. “I can’t think of anyone else in town who was so well-known and well thought of like T.E.”
Himmel mentioned that T.E.’s notoriety really showed whenever the Lions Club members would go out to sell tickets for their annual pancake breakfast.
“You would go out to sell tickets and most of the places you’d go they would say, ‘Well, we buy our tickets from T.E.,” Himmel laughed. “But he got me going in the club and I really enjoy it now and still participate in a big way because of him.”
Besides being a civic leader and longtime educator, T.E. Also dedicated his time to preaching at the Church of Christ in Walnut Springs and later in Midlothian. He preached for six months every other Sunday, sharing the pulpit with another preacher at the Church of Christ in Walnut Springs, and when the other preacher took a full time position with another church, T.E. served full time at Walnut Springs.
Midlothian Church of Christ member Sard McClendon remembers he preaching on occasion at their church and attending service with him regularly for more than 60 years.
“I met him back in the 1950s and we both had kids in school back when he was just a schoolteacher,” McClendon said. “He was a pretty steady guy, not a lot of foolishness about him. He was always a really reliable guy that you could count on. Because of that the community thought a lot of him and he was always a nice guy. Occasionally he would preach at the Church of Christ and taught a lot of Sunday school classes.”
Director of the Senior Food Pantry Vicky Massey remembered T.E. as a proud veteran, having been drafted in 1941 before the Pearl Harbor attack. He served in England, France and Germany during the war and set up field hospitals before being discharged in 1945 to return home.
“He was proud of being a veteran and would lead any veterans’ events we had and never missed a one that he could help,” Massey said.
He truly will be missed by all who knew and loved him. Memorials may be made to the Midlothian Education Foundation, P.O. Box 1906, Midlothian, Texas 76065.
A visitation was held Friday, Sept. 6 at the Midlothian Funeral Home, and services were held Saturday at the Midlothian Church of Christ. T.E.’s family laid him to rest at the Midlothian Cemetery following the serivce.
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