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Womack remembered as devoted teacher, principal

A veteran educator and administrator who served generations of Butler County’s youngsters has passed away. Estelle Womack, 84, died Saturday, July 14, following a brief illness.

Womack, a Greenville resident and retiree from the Butler County Schools System, was warmly remembered by teachers and former students alike this week as they mourned the loss of a dedicated principal and teacher “who truly loved our children.”

Jean Hardin, a longtime kindergarten teacher who currently teaches in Butler County’s Bright Beginnings Pre-K Program, recalled her days serving with and for Womack at Baptist Hill, a former location for  kindergarten students attending public school in Greenville.

“I was at Baptist Hill Kindergarten for 12 years and I worked with Mrs. Womack, first as a fellow teacher, and then as our principal after Ruth Ross retired from that position,” Hardin said.

“I will always remember her love and devotion to all the children. She also had such a wonderful rapport with her teachers, as well as the parents.”

Hardin remembers an administrator who was “fair but firm,” one who went out of her way to make sure the children served at the kindergarten had a wonderful first year of school.

In 1991, the kindergarten program relocated to W. O. Parmer Elementary School, a move which caused some trepidation amongst the K-5 faculty, Hardin said.

“We actually didn’t want to go for fear of losing her as our principal. That’s how much of an impact she made on all of us. So many children in Butler County were blessed to have experienced her special brand of love and care.”

Betty Foster, a Butler County School System retiree, served the system for many years as a classroom instructional aide. She, too, holds dear her memories of Estelle Womack as a strong and effective leader at Baptist Hill.

“Mrs. Womack was very supportive of everything we as instructional aides undertook in the classroom. She had high expectations for her teachers and aides, and as long as we worked hard and did what we should for the children, she in turn was very supportive and encouraging of us,” Foster explained.

The former aide, who also served as a bus driver for both the Baptist and Methodist campuses, recalled how Womack got behind Foster’s idea of awarding the best-behaved bus riders with trophies at the end of each school year.

“I would say she always provided wonderful support of our efforts, no matter what. She was someone whom I greatly admired.”

Foster also recalled a situation with the father of an only child who was having a great deal of trouble “letting go of the apron strings.”

“This man would bring his child to school each day and he’d be crying, and then his daughter would be crying and in they’d both come with tears running down their cheeks. Well, this continued for several days, and then one day Mrs. Womack went to him and said very kindly but firmly, ‘Starting tomorrow, you are going to let her come into the building by herself in the mornings.’ She knew it was the right time, you see. She was a wise woman. I look back and appreciate so much what she did for so many of our children over the years.”

Gloria Warren, another veteran of Butler County’s kindergarten classrooms, described Womack as “such a good person who truly loved our children.”

“Mrs. Womack wanted to see the children happy and healthy and learning. From sun up to sun down, she was doing whatever it took to make that happen,” Warren said.

“She visited with parents in their homes, took food if the children were hungry and there wasn’t enough on the table, and gave them Movie Day on Fridays to end their week with smiles. She was just an excellent advocate for the children.”

Warren is thankful both personally and professionally for Womack’s leadership at the school.

“Mrs. Womack made the decision to hire my husband as the custodian for the school and he was able to continue there and retire after 30 years. That was such a blessing to our family.”

Both Warren and Hardin recall an administrator who was an encourager to fledgling educators.

“She would take the younger teachers under her wing, really serve as a mentor for them,” Warren said.

Hardin added, “Mrs. Womack set a high bar, but she also provided a great example for all of us who taught with her and worked under her.”

“Mrs. Womack really made it a happy home for us all at Baptist Hill,” Warren said.

Meg Stringer, who was one of the many Butler County students who shared their educational odyssey with Womack, says she was blessed to have a teacher who made it a pleasure to come to school every day.

“Mrs. Womack was such a lovely lady, and I always felt like she genuinely cared for me as one of her students.”

Womack, a graduate of Alabama State University, was also the owner of The Learning Bee, an early childhood development center located on South Street in Greenville.

Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 20, at The House of God Church in Greenville, with visitation held Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Carter Rice and West Funeral Home in Greenville and for one hour prior to Friday’s services at the church.  Womack is survived by her five children, John Womack Jr., Bradford Womack, Joanne Tucker, Deirdre Womack and Stacy Womack, along with 13 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.