The bell rang. Time for class,-- Mr. George Carothers took roll, frowning over his glasses, a deep breath before his brilliance began streaming forth upon a sea of uplifted faces, some eager, some bewildered, but all happy to be there in his classroom.
Everyone knew Mr. Carothers, he was admired, respected, the pillar of Roswell Senior High School for decades. The chemistry books he lectured from were heavy and complicated-- the visual graphs on the blackboard behind his desk, a collection of odd symbols and small numbers called, ‘formulas.’ Mostly, you listened, and tried to understand a language all his own. And on most days, he would regale the class with stories, some jokes, to lighten the time away from beakers, Bunsen burners, and litmus paper.
He walked with a shuffle using his cane, drove a shiny new Buick, never missed a high school football game, lugging along his huge Speed Graphic camera and case to take pictures for the El Coyote yearbook. Photography was his passion, and he gloried in it, taking outstanding action shots , knowing just where and how it would work best.
How did he do it all? He taught chemistry classes every school day, never missed a teacher’s meeting, was sponsor of the school yearbook, the El Coyote, taught an adult Bible class at the First Christian Church, was Finance Chairman there,--was a member of the Kiwanis, belonged to the Masonic Order, sponsored the chapter of Demolay at the Scottish Temple, sold tickets during the season to the Roswell Rockets baseball games, washed and waxed his Buick every Saturday, did family errands for his wife, Muriel, his daughters, Ruth Ann and Georgine, took long road trips every summer back east to visit family and friends.
His roots hark back to rural country on farm near Cutler, Ohio, where he was born on Independence Day, July 4th, one of three brothers. He attended country schools, most probably one he and his brothers walked to every day regardless of the bitter winters in Ohio. After graduation, he enrolled in Marietta College, located in southern Ohio, near the Ohio River,
Earning a degree in chemistry, he
took a job as a chemist for Ludlow Laboratories in Ludlow, Massachusetts,
then enlisted in the United States Army when World War I began on July 28,
He was sent overseas to France, assigned to a unit of the United States Cavalry as a driver for supply wagons to the front lines, where trench warfare was fierce, the weather in France during those winters was unbearably cold, and conditions for soldiers became more extreme as the war years lagged on. Injured and seriously ill, Carothers was in a Paris hospital when the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.
He returned home to Ohio after the war, but was too ill to work. Complications from his illness left him crippled in one leg, so he would need a cane from that time on . His uncle, Richard Morris was living in Roswell, New Mexico, was an Administrator for the school system there, and urged Mr. Carothers and his brothers, Dan and Rezin to travel there, telling them that the climate would be more healthy for George.
The three brothers climbed into their
roadster and began the long trip from Ohio to New Mexico. En route, they stopped
in Weatherford, Oklahoma to visit some friends, and it was there that Mr.
Carothers met a delightful, dark-haired beauty named Muriel Keller, from Sedalia,
Missouri,-- who was teaching English and Latin in the school there. Arriving
in Roswell, New Mexico,-- he was offered a job as a science teacher in the
high school, which he readily accepted. He and his brothers lived in a boarding
house, called the Calloway House, and soon, Muriel Keller moved to Roswell,
New Mexico to teach there. .His two brothers returned to Ohio, but George
decided to stay. He and Muriel were married on July 4, 1925, bought a home
at 207 South Lea Street,-- both teaching until their first daughter, Ruth
Ann was born. Another daughter, Georgine, was born seven years later.
During the summer semesters, he continued his education at University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, earning a Master’s Degree in Education in 1939.
In 1951, Mr. George Norris Carothers was honored as one of 50 science teachers nationwide to attend a summer seminar at MIT in Boston, Massachusetts. He lived in a dorm with all the others and loved learning about all the new science technology of the times. His brilliance was far, far ahead of his time,-- but what he shared the most, was his wonderful and amazing self.
Special thanks to Mr. Carothers’ daughter, Georgine Carothers Jackson and her husband Bill for supplying background and photos for this story.