EUNICE CHUTE REMEMBERED FOR WHAT SHE DID FOR CHARLTON COUNTY
By Mrs. Carlie Stokes Trout
Charlton County Herald, March 14, 2001
This is a story about a wonderful friend, Eunice Chute, and an unforgettable trip of the Charlton County High School Third Year Class members into the Okefenokee Swamp at Camp Cornelia, near Folkston in June, 1940.”The Okefenokee” and Eunice Chute. Today the first two words are almost household words worldwide. Relatively few recognize the final two, Eunice Chute.
Long before the Okefenokee’s present prominence, in fact in 1940, Eunice Chute, a teacher of commercial subjects at Charlton County High School, recognized the magical swamp’s unique qualities and sought to pass that keen insight on to her students.
In 1940, Europe was at war. Adolph Hitler’s Nazi army had swept through Poland and France, planting the Nazi flag on top the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Americans were hoping the vast Atlantic Ocean would keep America separated from the war. A hope that would not be fulfilled.
Miss Chute, as her students called her, was an Alabama native who began her teaching career in St. George. The 32-year-old Chute, inspired by her county school Superintendent, John Harris, dreamed up a project for the Junior English class that would both make the class aware of the wonders of Okefenokee, and pass that awareness on to others. It would be a make-believe radio broadcast from inside the Okefenokee. The English Class would read their original script following a class visit into the swamp to get a feel of the vast wilderness, its beauty and enchantment. A report of that project by the class would be entered in state literary competition.
Among the 1940 class members were two dozen eager participants: Juanita Aldridge, Jimi Allen, Bennie Altman, Viola Mae Brown, Mildred Carter, Clora Lee Conner, Fred Crews, Lorene Crews, Velma Crews, Wanda Gibson, Annie Pearl Gowen, Barney Gowen, Harold Gowen, Elisabeth Hathaway, Merlyn Huling, Ruth Jones, Dallas Lloyd, Walter Mills, Cleo Quarterman, Bernard Shivar, Margaret Tison, Harold White, Harry Wildes and Billye Wrench.
The make-believe broadcast over CCHS Radio on the Okefenokee Network achieved statewide recognition and praise. Georgia School Superintendent, M.D. Collins wrote praising the project, as did several other prominent state educators.
That’s the story of an unusual school project into the wilds of the Okefenokee by a 1940 class led by an unusual teacher, Eunice Chute, who would go on to make friends and admirers by the scores from the beginning of her Charlton County teaching career in St. George in 1928 in a one-room, four-class school building, moving into Folkston in 1930. In Folkston she boarded twenty years with L.E. and Mollie Stokes, whom she lovingly called “Ma and Pa Stokes” and their family.
During these years in Charlton County, Eunice Chute endeared herself to most students and parents. A strict disciplinarian, she demanded the most from her students, freely expressing her gratitude when they achieved goals they once thought unobtainable.
She served as Principal of Charlton County High School during the early years of World War II, seeing many of her students leave school to go into the armed forces. She grieved when news arrived that some had been killed or wounded in battle.
When she left Folkston to teach at West Georgia College in Carrollton, she said in her heart she never left Folkston. The strong-willed Chute went on to teach overseas in the American Department of Defense School System. She taught and served as Principal in Berlin, Germany during the blockade of that city by the Soviets, when supplies had to be airlifted into the city, and then moving on to work in France and London. She met Hal Matthews, whom she married in 1958. Ten years after his death in 1988, in her former Folkston home, the residence of L.E. and Molly Stokes, she married Sam Johnson.
Eunice Chute died at age 91 on March 29, 2000, in Pasadena, Florida. Even though world-traveled, she always treasured her many years in Charlton County, visiting when possible, and always keeping in touch by writing her friends, especially those “family members”. If there is a single thought that her name brings to mind, it’s “Challenge your students to do those things they think impossible.”
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Charlton County Herald, March 21, 2001
EUNICE SYBILL CHUTE MATTHEWS JOHNSON
October 8, 1908 – March 29, 2000
Thank you, my beloved “Chute” for “hanging around”, for waiting for me “at the gate,” I am with you today and always “you are my beloved wife till the end of never and that is a long, long time.”
Our beloved Eunice never forgot and always honored her Folkston, Charlton County roots, her Stokes family “Ma” and “Pa” Stokes, Ben and Maggie Stokes Rodgers, Nita Stokes Stroup, Wilton and Rilla Stokes, Lettie Stokes Gowen, Glenn and Carlie Stokes Trout, Frank and Mary Stokes Davis, Annette and Jasper Stokes, Ed and Tessie Stokes, Mason and Kathleen Rodgers, Vernon and Betty Crews, our beloved Eunice’s mentor, Mr. Harris, Charlton County Superintendent of Schools, her faithful student, corresponding friend of 80+ Irene Kimball, and so many loyal student friends, Eunice’s former students, dedicated fellow teachers, and support staff at Charlton County High School, Eunice’s students and fellow teachers at St. George Elementary and all of you blessed Charlton County Folks who, in the late 1920s so warmly welcomed “My Beloved Chute” to her true home, Folkston, Charlton County, Georgia.
Thank You, Folkston and my Stokes family for honoring and starting Eunice and Sam on their Great Adventure through Life on Earth and Eternity Beyond, with our marriage ceremony being held in Ma and Pa Stokes Folkston Homestead. Your and our treasured St. Petersburg-South Pasadena neighbors and friends extend their love and best wishes. Your loyal Pasadena Community Church Circle Sisters send their love. Your treasured DOD (Department of Defense) overseas Teacher compatriots send their greetings, their love, their thanks, their blessings, their prayers from Tom and Norma, Lucille, Marge and Ed, Mary and Bob, Betty, Mel, Marie, Ken and Lorna, Beth, Tom and Marilyn, Corky, Winnie and Dottie.
Our good Lord is keeping Sam going to complete “The Remarkable Miss Chute.” Then…Eunice and Sam will walk arm-in-arm together along The Path of Eternal Life ‘Till the End of Never!
You are never alone. Sam, your husband, your friends, your Folkston family, and our Lord are always and forever by your side!
Thank You! Bless you, my beloved wife!