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Beloved teacher, Catherine Royalty, celebrates 100 years

Published: Feb. 18, 2015 at 4:31 PM CST|Updated: Aug. 19, 2015 at 11:31 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - HealthWise, we pay tribute to a proud graduate of Lubbock High School who ended up enjoying a long teaching career in Lubbock.

Catherine Royalty taught 4th through 12th grade English and Journalism at J.T. Hutchinson, O.L. Slaton, Atkins, and Carol Thompson Junior High.

She continues to be a role model in many ways.

"In the Depression, I could have had lunch for a quarter, if I had a quarter," Catherine recalls.

Her mother gave her four names: Catherine Almeda Alice Royalty.

It's that last name that convinced her to wear a uniform.

She explains, "We had a Royalty in the Revolutionary war, the Civil War, WWI, and so I thought we needed one in WWII."

Catherine joined the Navy and served in San Francisco, coding and decoding ship movements.

She came home to Texas Tech on the GI Bill, graduating with three majors in English, Journalism and Education.

She never married or had children, but she spent the next 34 years teaching hundreds of kids to love what she loved most…books.

"I love to read," she says. "I used to read one a day. It takes me two or three days now to read a book."

So it's the long walk to the library upstairs at Wilshire Place that keeps Catherine on her feet.

But one treasured book she keeps in her room. It's called 'Daughters of the Pioneers.' She wrote a chapter in this book about her life as a Royalty, a pioneer family in Lubbock. It chronicles her heritage, following her grandparents and her parents as they settled in Lubbock. The chapter includes many pictures of her family, including one of her as a small child.

So how old is little Catherine Royalty today?

"Celebrating her 100th birthday is an amazing milestone," Lubbock City Councilman Floyd Price announced to a large crowd that gathered at Wilshire Place. That brings us to the reason for this story, a birthday party that even Catherine never expected. "We, the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Lubbock, declare February 17th, 2015, Catherine Royalty Day. Bless you."

Everyone cheered, and Ms. Royalty bowed.

So, I asked the centennial birthday girl - what's the secret to a long life?

"Genes," she laughed. "I had a cousin who lived to be 107 and an aunt who lived to 105."

But no one in her family tree has had a day like this.

The crowd at her party sang 'Happy Birthday' several times, and every time, she responded with an elegant bow.

The truth is, Catherine has felt happy about a hundred years since the day she turned 99, thanks to two students who wanted to remember their favorite teacher.

"They sent me flowers last year. They thought it was 100 last year," she says.

So Catherine has had time...to cope with time.

And after this celebration, it's obvious that she's looking forward to more triple-digit birthdays with a sense of humor.

When I told her how young she looked, she said, "Well, I don't like these," pulling back the wrinkles in her face. Then as she stretched back her skin, she said "Do you think I should have surgery?"

What a way to celebrate 100 years - with laughter and a lesson that reading is good exercise for the mind.

Ms. Royalty is still teaching that...by example.

There will be a reception at Wilshire Place (6410 Erskine) Sunday, Feb. 22, from 2 to 5 p.m. if you'd like to stop by and say Happy 100 years to Ms. Catherine Royalty.

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