HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
History of Pasco High School
Former Teachers Shaped the Future
Martha Walker, Greta Adams Left Their Mark on Pasco High School (2018)
This article appeared in the Dade City News on July 26, 2018. Madonna Wise provided the photos on this page.
By MADONNA WISE
Thoughts of students preparing for the year ahead fill us with fond memories of our school years. In that mix of longing, we remember the teachers — the ones who made an impact on our life.
Former students of Martha Walker gathered July 20 at the Florida Pioneer Museum, along with former Assistant Superintendent of Pasco County Schools Mary Giella, to reunite with a remarkable teacher and reminisce with her about her dynamic, lifelong cohort, Greta Adams.
Walker and Adams left a legacy that is difficult to quantify during those times of growth and change in Pasco County. Arthur Bullard, Jr. and Scott Black are representative of the hundreds who credit Walker and Adams with substantially affecting their lives.
The lifelong friendship of Walker and Adams flourished through the decades and subtly influenced the community through tumultuous times.
Walker was born in Cottonwood, Ala.; Adams hailed from Batesburg, S.C. As young teachers at Pasco High School, they met in 1964. Walker had taught two years in Alabama and, after the death of her husband in an automobile accident in 1962, she landed a job in Dade City as a business education teacher.
The 25-year-old Adams was recruited from South Carolina, a year later. Perhaps it was inevitable that two novice instructors in business education would forge a friendship among the long-tenured teachers of what was then the top-ranked high school in Pasco County.
“It was Halloween of 1964, and Greta invited me to accompany her on a weekend trip to her native South Carolina to retrieve Greta’s daughter, Tammie, who had spent a few days with her grandmother,” recalled Walker.
Nearly five hours into the trip, approaching midnight near Augusta, Ga., the road meandered toward the hollow of a decrepit bridge — ‘Bridge in repair, travel at your own risk.’
“We stared at the sign and then forged ahead, and the rest is history,” Walker said — a metaphor for their service. Walker and Adams remained the closest of friends. “Tighter than sisters,” said Walker.
Walker and Adams instilled character and imparted lifelong skills while embracing the roles of mentor, entertainer, cheerleader, mother, and friend to students, clearly aware that successful teaching is based upon relationships and caring.
Arthur Bullock, Jr., a 1970 grad, has kept in close contact with Walker, who he says was the embodiment of a virtuous coach who cared deeply for her students. Through their caring and acceptance for all students and parents Bullock, a successful African-American businessman, believes the two women were instrumental during changing times of integration in the schools.
Scott Black, a Dade City businessman and city commission member, said Walker not only taught valuable classes in English and typing, she infused citizenship, work ethic and what it means to give back to the community by doing the right thing. “Don’t do something tacky,” she would quip.
“Mrs. Walker was the most influential teacher of my life,” Tim Maple said. “I remember timed-writings that she would initiate by the phrase ‘dig out’. I used that in my wrestling career during late night runs preparing for competitions; the memory of Mrs. Walker’s voice, commanding to ‘dig out’ got me through it every time.”
Cheryl O’Berry, a retired professor from Pasco Hernando State College, said “Both Martha Walker and Greta Adams were role models of what good teachers should be. I’m very fortunate to have been a student in both their classes. Hopefully, I passed on some of the skills they taught me to my students.”
Walker and Adams intuitively understood that humor was essential. They led school pep rallies in cheerleader uniforms, hosted annual fundraisers for the business club with a makeshift “Hee-Haw” show, and coordinated the annual graduation ceremonies. At the annual “Hee-Haw” show, they assumed the roles of Lulu and String Bean and brought down the house with their stand-up comedy. “Mama, Don’t Whip Little Buford,” was Walker’s signature song which she performed yearly at the senior breakfast send-off.
Walker hailed from the Crimson Tide and Adams from the South Carolina Gamecocks, and they appreciated sports, rarely missing a game or performance at school or in the community. Students remembered the hug or pat on the back they received after a game or performance, and particularly cherished the homemade banana pudding whipped up for a winning team or class.
Recognized by the athletic groups, the duo managed an extensive fundraising campaign with the goal of building a school gym, which came to fruition. Walker is proud that along the way they funded scholarships to camps and supplemented uniform costs as well. At the Pasco High School gym-auditorium, a plaque is proudly displayed in homage to the contributions the twosome made to the athletic program.
“Two great and classy educators,” summarized Mary Giella of Walker and Adams.