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Carrie Rochon McAfee

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CARRIE ROCHON MCAFEE, noted Houston educator, succumbed September 22, 2006 following a brief illness. Pursuing a busy career as teacher, counselor, and assistant principal at Houston's historic Jack Yates High School, she came to prominence in 1974 at James Madison High School when she was named first female principal of a comprehensive senior high school in Texas. Ms. McAfee's participation in professional activities, community affairs, and charitable endeavors won her numerous awards and wide recognition. Prior to her 2004 retirement, after 52 years' service in public schools, she was Executive Director of "Project Reconnect," an award-winning parental involvement initiative created under her leadership and responsible for thousands of parent contacts. A Houston resident, mentor, and activist for over 50 years in the Third Ward and MacGregor areas, she witnessed the rise of many local leaders, winning friends and admirers from all parts of the city and state. Carrie was born December 20, 1930 in Galveston, Texas to Daisy and Tom Hampton. Her roots were in Hitchcock, LaMarque, and Richmond as the youngest member of a large extended family headed by her irrepressible, much-beloved grandmother Carrie Brown. She realized her father's dream of higher education in 1951, earning the Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and History at Texas Southern University. She earned the Master of Arts Degree in English in 1963, adding Journalism studies at Texas Southern University, Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, Columbia University, New York, and the University of California at Berkeley. She certified in Guidance and Counseling the same year. She also followed postgraduate studies in Guidance and Counseling, Sociology and Clinical Psychology, and Administration at Texas Southern University, the University of Houston and the University of Texas. Ms. McAfee's professional education certifications included English and History Grades 6-12, Elementary Education Grades 1-6, Counselor, Supervisor, Principal K-12, Administration, and Superintendent K-12. Her career in education began in 1953. At Yates she was a vivacious, popular teacher, club sponsor, and academic coach remembered for her students' many competitions and activities. The prize-winning Yates Gazette newspapers and Lion Yearbooks from her early years reflect her dynamic imprint. In later years former students frequently called on her as program speaker or participant in neighborhood events and church functions. She turned to counseling with the encouragement of her greatest mentor, Dr. John E. Codwell, serving as Yates counselor during the school year and taking on summer work as Supervisor and Counselor Coordinator at Neighborhood Youth Corps for several years. In 1968 she attained an administrative post as a traditional "Dean of Girls," later designated assistant principal. In 1973 she moved to the same post at James Madison High School. A year later she broke new ground for women in school administration with her appointment as principal. For 15 years the Madison "Marlin Mama," as she was lovingly proclaimed, provided a level of leadership that propelled a little-known suburban school to local and state heights in academics, fine arts, and athletics. In her honor, the Madison school library was named for her. In 1989 she left the campus environment and provided leadership to HISD administrative district IX until 1992. In that year she moved to central administration as Executive Director in the School Operations Department. Under the leadership of former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rod Paige she implemented a model for parental involvement recognized statewide, "Project Reconnect." Thousands of parents responded to this initiative at campus parent centers. In 2004 she quietly retired, still devoting many hours to community events, her grandchildren, and her rose garden. Carrie's accolades, honors, and awards covered the walls of her reading room at home. Their names chronicle a lifetime dedicated to achievement and enrichment of the lives of all around her: Texas Southern University (TSU) Student Body Secretary (1951), President Nu Alpha Chapter Zeta Phi Beta Sorority (1951), Lady of the Year (TSU) (1951), Wall Street Journal Outstanding Journalism Teacher (1963), WaIl Street Journal Newspaper Fund Fellow (1964), Lady of the Press Award Jack Yates High School (1964), Forward Times Newspaper Women of the Year King's Class Award (1965), Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in the South and Southwest, American Bridge Association Board of Directors (1972), TSU Achievement of Excellence Award (1974), Houston League of Business and Professional Women Service Award (1976), State of Texas Commissioned Yellow Rose of Texas (1976), Who's Who of Black Americans, Texas Association of Secondary School Principal Distinguished Service Award (1977), Houston League of Business and Professional Women Professional Award (1978), Who's Who in the World, TSU Distinguished Alumni Award (1983), Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Award for Outstanding Performance in Education (1984), National Women of Achievement Hall of Fame (1985), National Coalition of 100 Black Women Outstanding Accomplishments in Education Award (1986), Fight for Life Community Service Award (1987), Boy Scouts of America Award of Merit (1987), Boy Scouts of America Big "E" Award (1989), Texas Commissioner of Education Appointee University Interscholastic League State Executive Committee (1989-1994), First Vice Chairman American Lung Association of Texas Executive Committee (1991), Member Board of Directors American Lung Association of Texas Houston Southeast Area (1991-1994), Chairman Board of Directors American Lung Association of Texas (1991-1994), Outstanding Woman Harris County Precinct One Legislative Ventures (1992), Member Harris County Grand Jury State of Texas (1992), Woman of Excellence Federation of Houston Professional Women (1993), Foreman Harris County Grand Jury, State of Texas (1995), Honoree Carrie Rochon McAfee Library at Madison High School (1996), National Council of Negro Women Finalist Outstanding Women Community Leaders (1996), National League of Business and Professional Women Sojourner Truth Award (1996). Among her many professional and social memberships were American Bridge Association, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Lambda Zeta Chapter, Young Women's Christian Association, Texas Democratic Women, City-Wide Clubs of Houston, Federation of Houston Professional Women, Friends of Hermann Park, Greater Houston Women's Foundation, Houston Association of School Administrators, Texas Southern University Alumni Association, and Parkwood Drive Civic Club. Ultimately Carrie's most significant role, often expressed in her own words, was that of family member -- daughter, spouse, mother, and aunt. She wed her college sweetheart, Lonnie Bernard Rochon and bore a daughter and son in Houston. One of the area's most popular young couples, they along with many first-generation college graduates balanced the dreams and challenges of the era. She later enjoyed a 30-year marriage to Joshua O. McAfee, who preceded her in death in 1994. They frequently engaged in their favorite sport, competitive bridge, traveling to tournaments throughout the country. When not traveling they could be found in their yard, making home improvements, with their dogs, discussing politics, or attending athletic events. Carrie demonstrated great determination and faith as her health declined. Though she embraced Catholicism as a young woman, she was often solaced by the Baptist hymns and services from her childhood. She revisited her roots at East Bethel Baptist Church and relished the spirited voice of Pastor Ronald K. Mouton. Her Christian tenets never deserted her as she endured the deaths of her parents and siblings; brothers Murphy and Tom Lee Hampton, and sisters Viola Martin Reed, Ruby Burse, Jenner V. Thorn, Mae Dee Lenor, Emily Hampton, and Hattie Mae Smith. Their children and grandchildren now mourn the loss of a favorite aunt, champion, and friend. Carrie leaves behind numerous friends and neighbors of long standing. Finally, she is survived by her loving children, daughter Rhonda Rochon Cotton and son Roy Bernard Rochon, M.D. and wife Carol, as well as precious grandchildren Ronald Timothy Cotton, M.D., Preston Bernard Rochon, and Hillary Ann Rochon. The family will receive visitors at a wake Monday, September 25, 2006, from 6:00 until 9:00 p.m. at East Bethel Baptist Church, 5702 Calhoun Road, Houston, 77021. Colleagues, former students, and friends are invited to a memorial tribute on Sunday, October 15, 2006, at 3:00 p.m. in the James Madison High School Auditorium, 13719 Whiteheather, Houston, Texas 77045
Published in Houston Chronicle on Sept. 24, 2006
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