Palm Beach Gardens students: Do you know who William T. Dwyer was?


There’s a good chance your Palm Beach Gardens student will be going to a school named after a person when classes start Monday, Aug. 15.

So, in honor of a new school year, here’s a refresher on the local personalities who have educational institutions named after them:

To read the latest headlines from Palm Beach Gardens, go to palmbeachpost.com/gardens

William T. Dwyer: The high school on North Military Trail has been named for a former vice president at Pratt & Whitney since it opened in 1991.

Dwyer, who died at 58 in 1985, was the founding president of the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, a charity that supports public education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

A Notre Dame alum, he also worked for the FBI for 10 years.

Outstanding educators from public and private schools are recognized every year through the Dwyer Awards program.

Watson B. Duncan III: A middle school on 117th Court North bears the name of this eccentric English literature professor who taught at Palm Beach State College for more than three decades until the day he died in 1991.

Duncan called Shakespeare “the Big S” and often celebrated his birthday with cake and a costume. The college struggled to find classrooms large enough to hold all of the students who wanted to take his classes.

This quote from a student in a story commemorating him in the Palm Beach Post explains why: “He was the only man who could make me weep reading the great letters of Shakespeare, all while dressed as an Easter egg.”

Actor Burt Reynolds credited Duncan with turning his attention from the football field to the stage. He described Duncan as “a six-foot-four curmudgeon elf” with an engaging laugh.

Howell L. Watkins: The World War I veteran moved his family to West Palm Beach in the 1930s to be principal of Palm Beach High School, according to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. He co-founded Palm Beach Junior College, now Palm Beach State College, where he served as an unpaid dean and teacher because of the Great Depression.

He served as the superintendent of Palm Beach County schools during desegregation, according to the society. The middle school on MacArthur Boulevard was named for him in 1962.


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