A former Athens school teacher died at age 101 last week, after instructing decades of students.
"Too many to count," Stella Floy Pace once said.
Pace was in the Athens school district for more than 40 years. Most of her students knew her as their Physical Education teacher.
In late August 2018, former students age 90 and under were on hand at Tilo's Bakery and Cuisine to help her celebrate her 100th birthday. They filled the banquet room at the local restaurant.
"I can't believe they got all of these kids together," Pace said. "I've never seen so many together in one place."
Dr. Janis Chambers Roan read a tribute to Pace: “I never heard you chastise or criticize. You always reinforced it when we did our best. I don't remember ever seeing you frown. Seems you always kept a smiling face, no matter what. Having been a teacher myself, I now recognize what a professional teacher and friend you were and still are. You deserve our most sincere thanks and gratitude. A teacher affects eternity, never knowing where her influence begins or ends.”
Pace grew up in Athens schools. Her first published work was a letter to Santa in the 1927 Athens Review. Later, she took part in a class to learn to drive.
Pace was part of the 18-member, 1934 graduating class in Athens. In her teens she wrote about girls sports in the school newspaper. She went from Athens to what is now North Texas State University and East Texas State University.
Pace taught for three years in the Amarillo School District before moving back to Athens where she worked at the High School as a teacher, coach and assistant principal for over 40 years.
Away from the classroom, Pace enjoyed the family farm and riding horses. She liked reading about cowboys in the writings of Louis L’Amour and was a sports fan, watching the Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Cowboys.
Her students remembered her as someone who taught them whether in school or life they should do their best to beat the odds.
"You were an excellent role model for us girls, who you knew you would grow into women," Roan said.
Visitation for Pace was held Tuesday, with a private family service on Wednesday followed by burial at Owen Cemetery.