Neal M. Wherry
Educator, LMHS/LHS Principal
Mr. Wherry's career in education began in 1917 when he became a teacher in Blencoe, Iowa. Following a short period in the Army in WWI, he resumed teaching in 1919, first at Jetmore and then at Holton, where he became principal of the Junior High School and Superintendent of Schools for two years. Wherry came to Lawrence in 1932. Except for five years of Army duty in WWII, he remained as principal until his retirement in 1963.
With a Political Science degree from Sterling College and a Master’s in Education from Kansas University, Mr. Wherry served as president of the Kansas High School Principals Assn, President of the Kansas Educators Club and Vice-President of the Kansas State Teachers Assn. He was prominent in the work of the North Central Association of Secondary School and Colleges.
Always.one to contribute far beyond his sphere of professionalism, Mr. Wherry was an elder in the First Presbyterian Church and a member of Rotary for 40 years. He served as president of both Lawrence and Holton Rotarians and was district governor for this area.
Mr. Wherry led the effort to get a new building for Lawrence High in the 1940s and 1950s, and while he was principal, the school consistently produced "champions" in all fields of endeavor, from academia to athletics. His first concern was always what was best for LHS and its students. Innovations during the Wherry years as principal included introduction of team teaching, foreign language laboratories and new methods of instruction of math and science. Beginning with his administration, local students were able to earn college credits in languages, history, and math.
High recognition came to Lawrence High in every conceivable field during his tenure.
The friendly Wherry was genuinely interested in his students. Whenever a student would gain school recognition, he would try his best to see that the individual was appropriately recognized in the community. He had intense pride in the accomplishments of Lawrence High School graduates following their schooling. He treated students fairly but firmly and they respected him for his straightforward and honest approach to all matters coming before him.
He was always a gentleman, and he expected others to conduct themselves in a similar manner whether in the halls of Lawrence High School, in athletics, or in everyday activities. He also expected 100 percent effort on the part of his students but was quick to offer assistance if he thought it could be of help.
Every morning Mr. Wherry would make announcements via the school intercom system. The intercom would come on and he would begin by tapping the microphone. Each day he signed off with a Thought for the Day and his trademark phrase "Lawrence Ranks High".
Much of what Lawrence High School is or ever hopes to be can be traced to the long and productive period of leadership under Neal Wherry. Thousands of LHS Students scattered throughout the country are richer due to their association with Wherry and his superior leadership as a principal, a teacher, and a gentleman.