The first UIL champions in Team Debate were crowned in the 1910-11 school year. For the first nine years the winning teams were all boys. Then, in the 10th year of competition, the 1919-20 state champs were Helen Hardy and Mae Matthews of Mathis. (Only a few months later, in August 1920, women coincidentally won the right to vote.) The following year, 1920-21, boys and girls began to compete separately. It raised an eyebrow that the change was made immediately after a team of girls won state for the first time. The separation was maintained for more than 50 years, until someone decided in 1974-75 that it was again safe for boys and girls to argue against each other.
Through 1943-44 the champions were selected from a single field of all high schools, large and small, which makes your aunt's accomplishment that much more impressive. Beginning in 1944-45 small schools and large schools began to compete in separate divisions, a trend that continued until the number of divisions grew to its present five.
In 1936-37 the state champion boys' team was the Denison duo of Frank Houghton and Aaron Witz. They were both in the same graduating class with Anne Clymer and Helen Louise McDaniel, whose father,
B. McDaniel, was named school superintendent on March 25, 1937. Anne and Helen must have brought home the trophy no more than a few weeks after Helen's dad was named to his new position. If they were all champions in the same year, the DHS Class of 1937 had the double distinction of producing state-champion debaters in both the boys' and girls' divisions as well as producing the only champions of either gender in the school's history, before or since.
University of Texas Cactus
Front Row : Aaron Witz, 4th from left
Anne Clymer transferred to SMU from Baylor following her freshman year. In 1941, Anne graduated from Southern Methodist University, where she competed on the debate team; Anne's debate partner for her last two years at SMU was Silky Ragsdale, now 93 and living in Smithville as Silky Ragsdale Crockett.
Aaron Witz, whose parents owned Witz Bargain Store at 225 W. Main became a Dallas attorney and changed his name to David Witts. He apparently was very successful in his field. He became friends with auto racing legend Carroll Shelby, and the two of them bought a giant ranch in West Texas that included the town of Terlingua. They were co-founders of the now world-famous chili cook-off.
Elaine Nall Bay