AN EDUCATION LEGACY
Denise Etheridge, “Ms. E,” an animal loving, energetic math teacher in Jones County, passed away Aug. 11. She lived in Gray for over 40 years, dedicating herself to helping those she could in furthering their education.
Etheridge was born May 18, 1954 in Macon, where she spent most of her childhood. She was a dedicated student in school, according to her daughter, Amanda Etheridge.
“My mother was patient, giving and always wanted to help,” she said. “She wanted to help everyone, no matter who they were. She was very dedicated.”
The dedicated teacher is survived by her children, Amanda Etheridge and Scott Etheridge; her grandchildren, Ryan Etheridge and Jackson Cotterill; her father, Ed Burns; her step-mother, Shirley Burns; her sister, Lisa Burns; and her brother-in-law, Tim Jones.
Etheridge was a very dedicated teacher in Jones County, teaching for over 35 years. Her daughter said she had a list of degrees, becoming a specialist. The degrees were mostly in math, a subject she committed herself to, said her neighbor and co-worker, Bobbi Livingston.
“She started coming down to my house to get help in the math she was doing,” Livingston said. “I was her tutor for a little bit, but she could have learned it herself. She never gave herself credit for being as smart as she was. She would always claim everyone else was smarter.”
Livingston said she met Etheridge at a homeowners association and Etheridge found out Livingston was a math teacher. She learned that Etheridge had a degree in special education, but she needed to learn math and began her math career from there.
“You just can’t help but like her. She was just the greatest friend helping me. She was giving. Even when she felt bad she’d keep on giving, no matter who it was,” the neighbor said.
Livingston also said that Etheridge was a very humble person and would always help people with math, never telling them they couldn’t do it.
“She understood how hard it was,” she said. “She seemed to know if you were struggling and never made you feel bad about it. She really empathized with you.”
Etheridge enjoyed going to church, Livingston said. She said Etheridge was the kind of person to keep going no matter what happened between her and others, and she always had people in her house, especially students. She wasn’t going to let students fail in Jones County.
The math teacher also drove for Groome Transportation for a while even though she was teaching in Jones County at the time. Livingston and her daughter both said she loved traveling.
“She loved learning about things and did so much traveling by herself. She went to all those places,” Livingston said. “I’ll never forget when she flew all the way to Lithuania to see her exchange student and met his parents. She had no fear.”
Etheridge was a huge animal lover, owning several dogs. She would take pets into her home if she thought they needed care. The dedicated teacher was very giving and for those that still want to donate to charity in her honor can do so through A Paw and A Prayer. The organization can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/A-Paw-and-A-Prayer-JC-211735502284440/.
“We’d take in animals that needed taking care of. I think it was just that need of taking care of them. She just wanted to help them. She had animals growing up, so I think she just loved them,” her daughter said.
Etheridge enjoyed watching sports and Star Trek. Her daughter said she remembers her mother had to watch Star Trek when she was growing up if it came on television. They even watched the movies together, but the math teacher never missed a game either.
“She loved watching any sport. When she’d come out to Texas with me, she’d talk to anyone about sports,” she said. “Basketball, baseball, football, it didn’t matter. She loved to read as well and trivia. It was fun to watch her do trivia and solitaire.”
Amanda Etheridge said she just doesn’t want people to remember her mother, but not to forget the impact she made and not to forget that Ms. E was there for them when they needed someone.
“Don’t forget about the kids, the adults, the people, the animals, or situations she was drawn to help,” she said. “Don’t overlook what she did.”
She was just the greatest friend helping me. She was giving. Even when she felt bad she’d keep on giving, no matter who it was.
– Bobbi Livingston