When William Matthew found out Kirksville Middle School was going to be renamed in his honor, he was shocked by the news. After helping the district grow throughout the years, Matthew felt grateful for the community’s recognition of his service. The Kirksville native and former superintendent worked in the Kirksville School District for 23 out of 35 years in public education service.
During his time in the Kirksville School District, Matthew always had a connection to the middle school. He started his career in the district as the principal there when it was still known as the junior high and located on the University campus in Ophelia Parrish. In 1977, a desperate school board contacted him in need of a superintendent, however, Matthew hated the thought of leaving the close relationships he had formed with the junior high faculty and staff to accept the position. Years later, the impact of this decision and his contributions as superintendent have not been forgotten.
Matthew’s tenure as superintendent began at a challenging time in the Kirksville School District. When he assumed the position, Matthew was faced with deteriorating buildings and insufficient funds for salaries. He soon developed a plan to balance the district’s budget and later organized the construction of the Kirksville Middle School.
Matthew has watched the public school campus expand and mature since his nine years as superintendent. He is proud of the opportunities the district provides for young children.
“I don’t know of any place you can go that has the number of educational institutions in a town of this size,” he said.
After one semester at the University, Matthew enrolled in the draft. He served two and a half years in the military before returning to college. During his undergraduate studies, Matthew was a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon, Alpha Phi Omega, the gymnastics club and lettered in football. In 1950, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in education.
Matthew currently resides in Kirksville with his wife Shirley of 63 years. They have two children. He enjoys retirement and spends his free time playing golf, fishing and bow hunting.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to have two kids, be successful, and be honored,” Matthew said.