Dr. Harold (Hal) Guthrie graduated to heaven to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on October 14, 2013.
Hal Guthrie was born in Armstrong County, PA on January 27, 1941 to Ben and Florence Guthrie. Hal grew up on the family dairy farm owned by his dad and Uncle George Schilling. He graduated from Redbank Valley High School in 1958. After a short stint as a tool hand with the robust natural gas drilling business in the area, he fulfilled his parents' dream by enrolling in Clarion State Teachers College. Upon graduation in 1962 he became a teacher in Warren, PA, and in his third year was asked by the superintendent to become his administrative assistant in charge of student services. Hal immediately enrolled in Penn State, taking off-campus courses during the year and on-campus during the summer. He graduated with a master's degree in education in 1964 and was named principal of a K – 12 school in Warren County and then principal of Eisenhower High School. Hal took weekend and summer courses at the State University of New York at Buffalo before returning to Penn State to complete his doctoral degree in Educational Administration in 1971.
Hal is survived by his wife Doris Beutel-Guthrie; her children, Michael, Beth and Lora, and her mother Gertrude Beutel; by his son Duane, wife Amy and granddaughters Mollie and Olivia of Allen, Texas and by daughter Dr. Amy Brown and her husband Curtiss and grandsons Caleb and Jameson of Round Rock, Texas. He is also survived by his children's mother Gail Shay Ford of Frisco, Texas and by a sister Dr. Helen White and her husband Jim and daughters Crystal and Valerie of Punxsutawney, PA. Hal and Doris cherish their special Christmas with their grandchildren and parents each year on the Thanksgiving weekend at some special location, which for many years included St. Simons Island, GA.
Hal loved his work in Educational Administration and devoted his life to the belief that ALL children can learn at high levels if given appropriate opportunities and support. After several leadership positions in Warren, PA, he was invited to join the Graduate Faculty in Educational Administration at Temple University in Philadelphia where he also served as Assistant Director of the Educational Service Bureau. In 1974 he was named superintendent of schools in St. Mary's, PA and in 1978 Superintendent of the East Penn School District in Allentown, PA. In 1983 he was recruited to Cedar Rapids, Iowa as Superintendent and as the result of a national search in 1986, he was named Superintendent of the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston, Texas. Hal considered Spring Branch, Houston and Texas the greatest opportunity and the best location of his life. While in Spring Branch he was named Superintendent of the Year in 1989 by the Texas School Boards Association, was named one of the Top 100 Educators in North America and was the founding President of the Urban Superintendent's Association of America. Hal was also an active member of The Superintendency Institute of America, organized by long time professional colleague and friend Dr. Larry Lezotte of the Effective Schools movement. During his professional career, Hal had the opportunity to meet and speak to educational leaders across the United States and in Great Britain, China, Japan, Germany, Mexico and Colombia.
After retiring from Spring Branch in 2002, Hal formed his consulting company and provided services to schools and school districts across the country on behalf of Learning 24-7, A+ Educators and Mindstreams, all based in Phoenix, AZ. He also provided services to many Houston area districts through his work with the Region 4 Educational Service Center. Hal was named Adjunct Professor in the Cooperative Superintendency Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout his career as superintendent of schools he also served as Adjunct Professor in Educational Administration for The Pennsylvania State University, The University of Houston, and for Texas A & M. University.
Hal and Doris are active members of the Second Baptist Church and faithful members of the Special Forces Bible Study class. Hal regularly volunteered for the Winning Walk Ministries – a radio, television and internet ministry, by answering phones and returning calls from programs that reach all 50 states and approximately 40 foreign countries. Hal and Doris have always said that their greatest experience was a trip to the Holy Land with Dr. and Mrs. Ed Young and a group of friends from Second Baptist. To walk where Jesus walked, to visit many Biblical sites and to be baptized in the Jordan River is a precious memory that will last forever.
Hal loved to hunt, travel and play golf, and he and Doris have taken numerous golf trips to many wonderful places across the United States. His favorite summer spot for golf is the Puget Sound area and his favorite winter place is Scottsdale, Arizona. Hal and several friends from California took a two week golf trip to Scotland where they played many famous courses including two rounds on the Old Course at St. Andrews and where they were also VIP guests for the British Open.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, October 17, 2013 from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm in the Chapel at Memorial Oaks Funeral Home, 13001 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas 77079. A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, October 18, 2013 at 11:00 am at Second Baptist Church - Woodway Campus, 6400 Woodway Drive, Houston, Texas 77057.
In lieu of customary remembrances, consideration may be given to the Guthrie Center in the Spring Branch School District, 955 Campbell Rd. Houston, TX 77024 or to the Winning Walk Ministries, Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway, Houston, TX 77057.