Tribute to W.O. Traywick

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One of my favorite people on the planet, W.O. Traywick, passed away on March 14th.

When I first met Mr. Traywick, he scared me to death. I was short for my age while he was a man of great stature with a strong deep voice. Even though he wore large, thick glasses, he had the ability to stare into your very soul. He was a staunch Democrat who taught Civics to me, a young Republican, during the Reagan Administration. 

Mr. Traywick also had a reputation of being good with a paddle. When he took a student into the hall for a discipline session, the entire school heard and counted the licks. One year, the school paper even dedicated the Dazz Band song Let It Whip exclusively to him.

By the end of my high school career, I had taken Public Speaking, Drama, Civics, and U.S. History from Mr. Traywick. I also had the honor of acting in nine plays he directed, including the classics Our Town and The Crucible. Later, when I had the opportunity to act in my first play at Ouachita Baptist University, his alma mater, he brought a group of students to watch. That meant so much to me.

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Mr. Traywick also served in the youth ministry at First Baptist Church, where I was a member. He once taught us about John the Baptist by serving us actual locusts dipped in honey as our refreshments. He taught my Sunday School class for a couple of years and once helped me clean the floor after I had vomited in front of my friends. That summer, on the night I made Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior, Mr. Traywick prayed with me. I’ll never forget that.

Years later, long after Mr. Traywick’s retirement, I visited him in the hospital, hoping to bring him some form of comfort. Instead, I was the one who was encouraged. From his hospital bed, in a voice that wasn’t nearly as deep as I remembered, he told me he was proud of the man I had become.

William Arthur Ward once said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

Winifred Otis Traywick was a great teacher. He inspired me and for that I will always be grateful.