Verna Young died peacefully on December 14, 2019, at her home in Combes, Texas. She was 88 years old.
Mrs. Young was born in Cameron County to Lawrence and Bernice King and grew up in the farming community of Primera. She graduated from Wilson Tract High School, later consolidated into the Harlingen School District, and from Baylor University, cum laude, with majors in mathematics and education. While at Baylor, she met fellow Primera resident, Jerry Young. They were married in 1951. Their marriage of almost 59 years was blessed by the birth of three children: Denise Young Almon, married to Robert Almon, of Harlingen; Randall Wayne Young, married to Mayra Mejia Young, of Harlingen; and Shelley Lyn Young Giglio, married to Dr. J. Kevin Giglio, of Houston.
Verna Young became a legendary educational leader in the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District. A woman of quiet dignity, her commitment to fairness, consistency, and excellence in her dealings with students, staff, parents, and community created a bond with all that has endured for decades.
In a career that spanned 53 years, Mrs. Young taught mathematics at Gay Junior High School, Vernon Junior High School, and Harlingen High School. She served as principal of Bonham Elementary School from 1975 until 1984, when she returned to Harlingen High School as principal. She remained HHS principal until her retirement in 2000.
A highlight of her devotion to her school district and community was her service on the HCISD Board of Trustees. Mrs. Young served the Board as secretary, vice president, and president. She retired from Board service in 2016, by which time every aspect of the Harlingen community had been positively influenced by her remarkable career.
Mrs. Young held membership in a variety of professional organizations relating to her disciplines of math and leadership. She received multiple noteworthy awards and scholarships during her long and effective career, including being honored twice by the Texas PTA with its Honorary Lifetime Membership. She received the Silver Spur Award from the Texas Public Relations Association, and in 1999, she was a Top Five Finalist for Outstanding High School Principal of the Year in Texas, among other honors.
As a more personal expression of appreciation, the HHS Class of 1961 created a rose garden on the high school campus in her honor, planting 36 rose bushes, representing the number of years she taught and served as principal at HHS between their graduation and the renovation of the school in 1997.
Verna Young is survived by her loving family, including grandchildren: Amanda Short, husband James, and daughters Caydence and Everly; Ashley Almon; Chase Young and wife Natalie Ivanov; Dr. Michael Giglio, wife Maureen, and sons Luca and Oliver; Kayla Giglio; Isabel Torres, husband Gabriel, daughter Westley, and son Arro; and many devoted friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, by her grandson, John Gregory Giglio, by her husband Jerry Young, and by her daughter-in-law Rae Dawn Nicholas Young.
A memorial service will be held on January 18 at 2:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Harlingen.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be sent to either the HCISD Verna Young Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Sandra Tovar, 407 N. 77 Sunshine Strip, Harlingen, TX 78550; or to the Memorial Fund at Wesley United Methodist Church, 1406 E. Austin Avenue, Harlingen, TX 78550.
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