By Alan Sorensen
Devlin, our dear friend
Devlin Elementary School's 89 years of providing education to Havre grade-school students came to an end at the conclusion of the 2000-2001 school year.
The school, at 500 First Ave., went through three separate constructions and 21 principals during those years, according to a video prepared by Havre Public Schools in May.
Devlin was built out of need. Plans to erect the school were already under way because of the burgeoning population at tiny Washington School when that school, at the corner of First Avenue and Third Street, burned.
Instead of locating Devlin at the same location as the old Washington, school administrators decided it should be a few blocks south and closer to students' homes. Erected on the west side of First Avenue, Devlin School occupied what had been open cow pasture owned by Gus DesCelles. The site had been the campsite for Ringling Brothers Circus when it came to town.
The new Washington School was built in the 200 block of 15th Avenue at about the same time, and construction of old Sunnyside soon followed in the 1100 block of Eighth Avenue. Both of those schools were abandoned in the 1970s. Washington was razed and old Sunnyside serves today as a private residence.
The first section of Devlin, erected in 1912, consisted of a basement and four classrooms, two on the main floor and two on the second. It cost $14,919, according to the video "89 Years of Excellence But It Doesn't Bear a Circus." An identical structure was attached to the back of the first school in 1928 at a cost of $20,445. Those eight classrooms were augmented before 1950 by two classrooms partitioned in the basement.
In 1955, three one-story wings containing 10 more classrooms were added to the first structures at a cost of $323,173.
The school received its current mascot and team nickname in 1984: the Devlin Dolphins. New playground equipment funded through the school district and the school's parent teacher organization was installed in 1994.
The School Board studied the structural stability of the two older buildings in the early 1990s and elected in 1995 to demolish them before anyone was seriously injured. Despite protests from a diverse group of Havre residents, the structure was brought down in one day.
The video created to honor the school's tradition was dedicated in memory of three longtime Devlin teachers who have died: Betty Rorvig, Candace Chartier and Irene Bekker. Names that will be remembered
Devlin principals over the past 20 years were Judy Fenton, Bill O'Donnell, Leo Beardsley, Brian Barrow, Robert McKeon, Karla Wohlwend, Debbie Bowman and Karen Swenson. The school had 61 teachers during the same period.
Teachers in the final year of Devlin's service and their first year at the school were Darla Kaercher, 1984; Sara Harada, '78; Judy Jones, '89; Betty Callies, '68; Ken Burton, '89; Linda Kiemele, '78; Chris Maristuen, '84; and John Barnhorst, '91.
Current Havre Public Schools teachers who attended Devlin include Betty Callies, Steph McLain, Kevin Shellenberger, Doug Larson, Karla Bolken, Judy Ireland, Kit McLain, Karen Murri, Erin Hamblock, Jeremiah Nitz, Dusty Toth, and Dustin Toth. Other staff who are Devlin alumni are Molly Baltrusch, Dona Keeler, Mary Naber, Mardell Toth, Beth Williams and Rita Richardson, who served several years as secretary at the school.
Devlin an education leader in Havre
by Robert Lucke
There is no doubt that Simon Pepin is generally credited as being the father of Havre. However, when determining the father of Havre education, the area is not nearly so clear. Probably it is the first teacher and administrator in Havre, T.J. Troy, or it could just as well be L.K. Devlin. Both were prominent in early Havre education. One, Troy, was the consummate professional educator at a time when there were few real professionals in education. The other, Devlin, was the tireless worker and dedicated school board member who was a true mover and shaker in Havre education for decades.
Lawrence Devlin came to Montana in 1879 to assist in the construction of Fort Assinniboine. His job was laying the cement for most of the permanent buildings at the fort.
Later, he moved into Havre and acquired an interest in Pioneer Meat Co., a part of Simon Pepin's P Cross Cattle Co.
In 1895 Devlin became a member of the Havre School Board and was its chairman for 19 years. He considered it a great honor to have the Devlin School named in his honor.
He died in Havre in July of 1943.
T.J. Troy was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1867. He came to Montana near the turn of the century and taught at Stockett, Neihart and Sand Coulee before coming to Havre in January 1903 as superintendent, a position he held until about 1913.
He had achieved a reputation as a very good athlete while in Canada and actually entered the shot put contest in 1904 at the World's Fair in St. Louis. He brought the first prize back home to Havre with him.
"In his own life and in his work as an educator, Professor Troy has advocated and practiced the old adage that a clear mind is dependent on a healthy body," says a local history book, "Grit, Guts and Gusto."
Troy had a long interest in government. By the time of his death, he had served five terms in the Montana House of Representatives.
"No account of his legislative work would be complete without mention of his work for the establishment of Northern Montana College. Any account of the history of the movement which culminated in the establishment of the college at Havre must place him in the forefront of the ranks of those who, over a long period of years, worked at every opportunity to bring the institution of Havre. In this battle in the legislature he was never caught napping and more than one counter movement was killed through his vigilance."
Troy died in March of 1932.
Both men were full of community spirit. Area newspapers of time credit both with being the "movers and shakers" of this era.
Which should be anointed as the father of Havre education? That's too hard to call. One thing is for sure though, Havre education would have suffered without the tireless efforts of both.