Waltrip Alumni Association

Gordon Cotton’s Words to His Student Body

written by Cindy Greene Reibenstein '72


“There is no stage in life or of Nature that is not necessarily preceded by its period of preparation.  The erection of a building, the seeding of a field, the establishment of any enterprise, great or small, calls first for thorough and painstaking preparatory work. It is for this, and this only, that you have, hour by hour, and day by day, devoted yourselves to your studies, carefully selecting those courses that would best fit you for the duties of the future that awaits each of you.   

You have learned, during the course of your few years of life, that every day of your existence is the in a large measure a preparation-a building-a laying of a stone in the foundation of the future. Every act of your daily lives-yes, even every thought-is leaving its mark either for good or evil, for strength or weakness, upon the character you, almost unconsciously, are busily engaged in forming.

Every victory you gain over yourself makes you that much stronger, and makes the next battle that much easier to win; every good deed you do paves the way for a second good deed; every lesson you learn makes the succeeding lesson for you easier to master.   Place your aims high, remembering that you can never reach beyond the point of your highest aim, but that success is the birthright of every human soul.

May each of you resolve, whatever your individual aim may be, to keep  your eyes persistently ‘fixed upon the mark of your high calling,” and live and labor that, when you have at last come to the end of the long journey, you may look back without regret over a well-spent life and say “the end crowns the work.”   Mr. Cotton also said, ‘Every noble act makes us better and stronger, even if it apparently fails to accomplish all that we designed it to do. But we cannot always see results, and it is not for us to question whether they be good or ill.  “Act well your part; there all the honor lies!” True greatness is within. You can be what you will to be. Do your best in everything you undertake to do and the world will be a better place to live because of you.” 

And in one of his later words, Mr. Cotton states, “The first step in the preparation which life will demand of you is to establish peace, each within your own soul; for the man at peace with himself is at peace with all men. …Success is a relative thing measured, not by how much money you earn, but by how much happiness you give.” 

Students said of Mr. Cotton: ‘And to Mr. Cotton: whose high moral code sets an example for all to follow, whose aid and encouragement inspire all that know him, and without whose interest and enthusiasm Waltrip High would not be the successful school that it is today. We the students, with admiration and affection, say, “thank you.” 

We are sad to report that Mr. Gordon Cotton, Waltrip's first Principal, passed away on September 30, 2012 in Trinity, Texas.



A 1945 graduate of Reagan, Tusa returned to coach the Bulldogs for three seasons, then moved into school administration.

Joe Tusa became the first Assistant Principal at Waltrip in 1960. He then became the HISD athletic director in 1965, heading a system that takes in 56 schools and more than 700 coaches involved with 20,000 student athletes.  He retired from HISD in 1989.

Tusa was instrumental in athletic integration within the HISD during his early years as athletic director.

Mr. Tusa had a motivating influence on students from 1960 to 1965 and is held in high regard by our Waltrip alumni. He is very active today and serves on the Waltrip Alumni Association Advisory Board.


Bernice Gale, another significant leader in the building of Waltrip encouraged the students through these words: “You are spending the best years of your life, here at Waltrip… Waltrip gives you the education to be an outstanding citizen and the hope to be a good member of a family, and a fulfillment of your life’s dreams.”

Bernice Gale passed away on November 21, 1991.



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