SISTERS COUNTRY PERSONALITIES

Bill Edwards
A Brief Biography
July 15, 2006
By Jean Nave

ABOUT SCHS

Bill Edwards, Sisters High School Coach, Principal and Superintendent and a naturalist before it was fashionable, arrived in Sisters, Oregon in 1949. The school was in bad shape when he arrived, “It was close to being closed down, it was in such bad shape,” remembered Edwards. “The Sate Department of Education said either shape it up or you’ll lose your school.”

Sisters was a tough logging town in the late 1940s. A quarter of the folks who lived in the town lived in The Pines, a movable logging village made of homes that were actually rail cars. Many early western towns had such villages. The cars were moved to a place where a mill was operating or a major logging site existed, and it stayed there until all the wood was processed. Once the work was done, the village was moved by rail to the next site.

“Everybody in Central Oregon knew about our school,” remembered Edwards. “the first years I was here as a coach … I made my first phone calls to set up my basket ball schedule … calling schools like La Pine, Gilchrest and Prineville … nobody would play me.” He knew their schedules weren’t that full, so he finally asked why they wouldn’t play his team. “They said, ‘Well Bill, we have to tell you the truth, we don’t want your kids in our school. And furthermore we don’t want the parents’”

The kids were rowdy, ill-mannered and the parents got drunk at the games and had fights. “They were basically good kids, they’d just been allowed to be like kids, kind of ornery …” Bill said. So the Principal, Byron Evans and Edwards and the other two women teachers decided it was time for things to change. “We took these tough kids by the back of the neck and said you’re going to be good and you’re going to learn and this will be a good school, and that’s where we started,” declared Edwards.

The secret to success was getting the parents to focus their attention on helping the kids and the teachers create an atmosphere of community, offing new opportunities for learning.

For example, Edwards started a baseball program. None of the kids even knew the rules of the game, they’d never played. This was before television was available in the area, so they’d never even seen a baseball game. But families got involved, an ex professional ball player, Dennis Brocket, offered to help coach the team and over time, Sisters developed a powerhouse baseball team.

In 1950 Edwards was offered the job of school principal and superintendent. He continued to expand learning opportunities including setting up a ski team, offering drama and developing a conservation program focused on Indian Ford Creek.

In 1956 a friend of Edwards was given a teaching position overseas. He told Bill he should do it too. With the friend’s recommendation, Bill was given a position teaching in Germany, thus leaving his students and friends in Sisters. He worked in Germany for twenty years. He stayed in touch with friends and came back to Sisters for regular visits. Edwards finally moved back to Central Oregon for good, buying a home at Black Butte Ranch.

You can read more about Bill Edwards and his passion for helping kids become great people and his love of nature, by reading the “Oral Interview with Bill Edwards” on this web site.


Copyright © 2006 Sisters Country Historical Society