Dedicated in 1962.
Schools are usually named for prominent pioneers, for historical figures, for location or for educators. Seldom are they named for a woman who spent her life being interested in all people, especially in youth. This is what happened when the Modesto Board named Catherine Everett Elementary School.
Catherine Elizabeth Harris was born in Huron, Kansas, on April 23, 1899. She was a graduate of Corning High School in Kansas City, Missouri and of Hardin College for Women in Atchison, Kansas with a major in music.
She married Gordon Everett and moved with him to Weiser, Idaho, where they managed the Everett family ranch. Here, her first two sons, Willard and Wayne, were born. In 1922 Catherine persuaded her husband to return to Kansas. They settled in Topeka and remained there until 1927. While there, Catherine was active in the First Baptist Church, in P.T.A, and in the Ladies Auxiliary of the Painters and Decorators Union. Her husband was a painter, paper hanger and interior decorator. The family moved to Wichita when her husband was made Business Manager of the Union. Catherine continued her interest in activities, just as she had in Topeka.
In 1929, the Everetts moved to Kansas City where a third son, George, was born. Again Catherine was active in church, acting as Superintendent of Sunday School, as president and district resident of elementary and high school P.T.A.’s and as a Kansas State P.T.A council board member. At this time she became interested in Democratic party politics and became personally acquainted with Judge Harry S. Truman of Independence, Missouri.
During the summer of 1937, Willard and Wayne, the two oldest boys, drove their Model A Ford coupe to Idaho and Oregon to visit Everett relatives, ending their trip by visiting an uncle in Empire, California. They were so pleased with the state of California that they persuaded the rest of their family to move to California.
Catherine continued her interest in P.T.A. becoming active in the Franklin School P.T.A., when her youngest son, George, was in third grade. From there she became an important part of the city-wide P.T.A. She also continued a strong interest in Democratic party politics, serving as a delegate from Stanislaus County to many state and three national party conventions. Because of this, she became personal friends of Harry S. Truman, James Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Estes Kefauver, Pat Brown, Alan Cranston and many other state and national figures.
Catherine helped her family through the Depression when her husband had difficulty getting work in his trade. Her son said she was a good and resourceful mother and homemaker, encouraging her sons to pursue their own interests. She entered into their activities, even to playing ball with them. At one time this ended in a catastrophe when she broke her leg and had to be confined to bed for two months.
Catherine was ill with leukemia for several years, fighting off the problem three separate times, but not letting anyone know, not even her sons, how ill she was. She passed away in 1961, leaving her husband who died in 1975 and three sons, Willard of Sacramento, George of Alhambra and Wayne, a retired Modesto fire chief, and several grandchildren.
When the elementary school on Mt. Vernon Avenue needed a name, that of Catherine Everett came up a winner. The school was dedicated in December 1962 although it was already occupied by then. Gladys Francis was appointed first principal. The words of one principal sum up the life of Catherine Everett: “She was a dedicated, sincere, and lovely lady.”