Clara Love was the essence of education, lifelong learning, and community. She gave her life to teaching and influenced and educated generations of families, serving the community in which she lived with wit and wisdom.
Born on October 30, 1912, Clara Helen Wilkerson was raised in the Justin area. She was named Valedictorian of her class of 13 and graduated from Roanoke High School in 1928. Possessing a love of learning and a passion for teaching, she continued her education at North Texas State Teachers College in Denton, now known as the University of North Texas, where she trained to be a teacher from 1928 to 1930.
Teaching qualifications were quite different at the time, and at the age of 18, Clara began her teaching career at Prairie Mound School, a one-room school house in Argyle, while still enrolled in college courses. The one-room schoolhouse still stands today between Justin and Argyle, a testament to generations long ago. She served as teacher, coach, janitor, and cook with responsibilities that ranged from lighting the furnace to mopping the floor, and she was known to organize spirited baseball games, ignoring the beckoning school bell if a good game still stood at a tie. She taught at the beloved schoolhouse for six years.
Clara married William “Booker” Love in December 1933 at the age of 21. The couple remained in the Justin and Roanoke area, raising two daughters, Sandra Copp and Carolyn Love.
With a never-ending desire to learn, Clara Love attended Texas Woman’s University and received her bachelor’s degree in 1958. That same year, she began teaching at Roanoke Elementary where she stayed five years until beginning a 20 yearlong stint at Justin Elementary. She returned to TWU and received her master’s degree in August 1966.
Forced to retire at the required age of 70, she made an unsuccessful plea to the Northwest ISD School Board, pointing out that President Ronald Reagan was still in office at the age of 72. Still filled with a love of learning, Clara considered returning to school to receive her doctorate, but satisfied her passion for education with substitute teaching. She served as a substitute teacher in Northwest schools for 20 years, reporting for her last classroom assignment at the age of 90.
As one who loved school and learning, Clara Love brought insight, commitment, and caring to the classroom for five generations of students. She took great pride and joy in teaching so many families and kept up with her students long after they left her class and raised children of their own. Her home was filled with treasured gifts and trinkets from former students, and she could share the story behind each until her death on September 15, 2004.
With a twinkle in her eye and a witty comment on her lips, Clara was a beloved fixture in the community. She was a member of Eastern Star, Business Professional Club, (in which she served as president several times), and the Justin Senior Citizens. An active member in The United Methodist Church in Justin, she sang in the choir, participated in the hand bell choir, and taught Sunday school. She even served on the church finance committee and – being a natural math wiz – could accurately count the contribution faster than those with calculators. Outgoing, caring, and an excellent cook, she was known for the homemade divinity and angel food cakes she made for friends, family, and neighbors.
Clara Love became affectionately known throughout Justin as “Granny” and never missed her or grandchildren or great-grandchildren’s activities, even if it meant staying up until 4 a.m. to watch grandson Terry Copp or great-grandson Justin Copp at a rodeo. Her passion for education continues through her family.
The same passion and energy Clara Love possessed as she lit the schoolhouse furnace at the beginning of her career fueled years of learning and life-changing experiences. It is with great honor and respect that Clara Love was selected as the namesake for this campus which will continue her legacy by instilling a love of learning in its students for years to come.