For more than 70 years, Mrs. Jacqueline Smith McEntire has been an advocate for education and community service.
That dedication and lifetime of achievement was formally recognized Thursday as Southeastern Oklahoma State University conferred an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Public Education and Community Service to Mrs. McEntire.
Numerous family members – including children Pake McEntire, Susie McEntire-Eaton, Reba McEntire, and Alice Foran – joined friends and University students and faculty in a special ceremony in the Fine Arts Recital Hall.
Offering remarks on behalf of Higher Education at the event were Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education Chair John Massey, Regional University System of Oklahoma Regent Chair Lake Carpenter, and Southeasternpresident Sean Burrage.
Mrs.McEntire, who will celebrate her 90th birthday next month, also offered remarks.
Mrs. McEntire served five school districts in southeastern Oklahoma for almost 20 years as a teacher, secretary and librarian. She graduated from high school at the age of 16 and became a certified teacher through the Oklahoma State Department of Education at age 18. Mrs. McEntire began teaching grades 1-8 at Tipperary School in 1943 and later taught high school business for one year.
During this time, Mrs. McEntire spent many summers attending Southeastern State College, earning 95 credit hours towards her degree in education. However, the pursuit of her degree was put on hold when she married Clark McEntire and they started a family.
“I would listen to Mama tell stories about catching the Greyhound from Limestone Gap to Durant to attend summer school at Southeastern and then teach students in the fall,” Susie McEntire-Eaton said. “That’s wanting to be a people changer. I began searching for a way to honor her hard work and dedication to the field of education. She’s a woman of many talents, gifts, strengths and endearing treasures. And by treasures, I’m speaking purely in human terms.”
In 1962, Mrs. McEntire returned to public education and served as librarian and secretary of Kiowa Schools until 1973 when her middle daughter, Reba, graduated from Kiowa High School and started college at Southeastern. Two of Mrs. McEntire’s daughters earned degrees at Southeastern: Reba earned a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education-Fine Arts at Southeastern in 1976, and Alice earned a Bachelor’s in Education (Home Economics-Social Studies) in 1973.
In addition, Mrs. McEntire’s mother-in-law Alice Hayhurst and niece Rickie Thompson are graduates of Southeastern.
“It is an honor for Southeastern to be involved in recognizing Mrs. McEntire for her lifelong devotion to education,” President Burrage said. “It is especially appropriate when you remember that Southeastern was founded to educate teachers and that legacy continues today. Throughout her life, Mrs. McEntire has emphasized the importance of education. She is a true inspiration for all of us at Southeastern.”
Public Appearances from 2016: Jacqueline McEntire receives Honorary Bachelor Degree