BILL HAMPTON – 77 - Director - Educator -
WINTER HAVEN - Bill Hampton, long time resident of Winter Haven and the inspirational leader of Ridge Technical Center passed away in the early hours of February 13, 2009 of heart failure.
Mr. Hampton was born on September 1, 1931 in Guntersville, Alabama, to the late Reverend Beed and Olena Hampton. He was the third son born to a hard-working, farm family of nine children.
The first child to graduate high school, he joined the Air Force at the age of 18. Within a few weeks, he was in Japan and shortly after that, Korea. Mr. Hampton served as a radio operator and earned several metals for his service in The Forgotten War. He made lifelong friends in those years that could only be realized through the bonds of serving in a war together.
Mr. Hampton headed to college with not much more than a bedroll and change of clothes. He graduated from Jacksonville State University, Alabama, in 1954. He went on later to receive his Masters from Rollins College, and his Educational Specialist degree from University of South Florida.
Bill married Judy Greer at the home of his sister, Nell, by his brother-in-law, Reverend Charles Dixon on May 25, 1957. In 2007, they celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
In 1958, Bill and Judy moved to Winter Haven where he began teaching science and biology at Winter Haven High School.
In 1966, he joined the vocational program and in 1969 went to Auburndale High School as an assistant principal. He returned to the cooperative program at Winter Haven and in 1973 was made administrative assistant to the superintendent of Polk County schools, Homer K. Addair.
In 1975 he was named Director of a new vocational-technical center including all aspects of the project from design, building and then serving as its Director until he retired 17 years later in 1992. This center is now called the Ridge Career Center.
At his retirement, no one captured Mr. Hampton's spirit of character better than his close friend, the late Mr. Jim Miles, with the presentation of a wood-bound book stating "You demonstrate the characteristics of this beautiful American hardwood. The exceptional characteristics of the walnut and cherry have made them universally desirable for generations. The warmth and natural grain are visible; however the less apparent are its strength, hardness and stability which keep them from warping and cracking with age and pressure. You exemplify the characteristics of these hardwoods -- you are strong and durable with a beautiful, natural grain. Your strength and stability will not allow you to warp or crack under pressure. You know why you are here, you love and care for all these people around you, and you will always do what you believe to be right -- 'your espoused theory is consistent with your theory in use."
In 1990, Mr. Hampton was appointed board member to the correctional education school authority by then Governor Bob Graham. Later, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Mr. Hampton to the board of Florida prisons. Additionally, Mr. Hampton was a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), a regional educational accrediting agency, and participated in the assessment of hundreds of Colleges and Schools all over the country.
> Bill is survived by his wife, Judy, his three daughters, Sherry Walden and husband, Monty, Carol Romero, Allison Guy and husband, Dean, six grandchildren, Tiffany Walden and husband, Adam, Kamryn Walden, Jonathon Romero, Lexie, Amanda and Andrea Guy, one great-granddaughter, Rylee Simmons; two brothers, Charlie Hampton and Howard Hampton and two sisters, Nell Dixon and Nan Buchanan, of Alabama. He is further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.
We would like to thank Dr. Richard Giusti and all of the staff at Bond Clinic, Gessler Clinic, Moffitt Cancer Center, Central Florida Cancer Institute and the VA Hospital for their help and support. And most sincerely, we would like to thank our friends and relatives for the overwhelming outpour of cards, prayers and support these past few years.
Bill Hampton touched many lives. He was a devoted husband, son, brother, uncle, loving father and Poppy-- a steady voice and often the mass communicator to his entire extended family. Reading the hundreds of cards he received, what comes through most is the tremendous number of colleagues, teachers and students that recognize Bill Hampton as a pivotal influence in the decisions they made toward a better life. In a lifetime of service, Bill Hampton was the model educator and leader.
A Memorial Service for Bill Hampton will be held Monday, February 16, 2009 at Parkland Baptist Church, 1800 8th Street. Reverend Jim McKinney and Reverend Charles Dixon will officiate. After the service, relatives and friends are welcome to join the family in the Church Fellowship Hall for a reception and to celebrate the life of Bill Hampton. Bill and Judy were founding members of Parkland Baptist Church. Bill served as Deacon, Superintendent of Sunday Schools and as a Sunday School teacher throughout most of his membership. A charitable donation to Parkland Baptist Church in his memory is appreciated. – (Ledger, Feb. 15, 2009)