John J. Brandenburg Elementary School opened in November 1966 and housed 1st to 6th grades. When the school was first planned, it was named Northwest Park Elementary School. In March 1965 the name was changed to John J. Brandenburg Elementary School. The first 589 students and 19 teachers that fall were located at various places in the community until the school was completed. By 1967 a second wing of 8 more classrooms was added. Each classroom had its own enclosed patio. It was the first elementary school in Irving to be built with a library. It was also fully air conditioned. The school received an architectural award for its design. The school was totally rebuilt on the same location but slightly to the north in 1992-93. Classes began in this new building in March 1993. The old building was torn down. Mr. James Wood was the first principal. He was followed by Arlen Cray, Janice Sommers, Evelyn Clifton, Brenda Bingham, and Pam Meredith. In 2016 the principal is Julie Miller.
Mr. Brandenburg married Verlia Maurine Bray. They had one daughter, Mary Sue Brandenburg Van Slkye who still lives in Irving. He loved math as well as poetry and Shakespeare. He often gave people nicknames. His daughter’s nickname was Little Angel, and his wife’s nickname was Rascal.
Mr. Brandenburg was very involved in the community. At one time he was the president of the Irving Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club. He was very involved with the Boy Scouts of America, Irving Public Library, First Methodist Church, March of Dimes, Easter Seals Drive, Shriner’s Hospital, and Irving Community Hospital to name a few. Charles Brown said of him in 2014 that he remembers Mr. Brandenburg as “the banker of Irving…He exuded confidence in himself and in you.” He believed strongly in supporting local business. He and his family only shopped in Irving with customers of the bank. John often visited Brandenburg Elementary. Each year at the annual awards program he’d personally present the award for outstanding student.
John James Brandenburg was born October 14, 1906 in Cedar Hill, Texas. His mother died in childbirth. So, his father raised him. John attended Oak Cliff High School in Dallas. He attended Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Austin. He also graduated from the American Institute of Banking. Mr. Brandenburg moved to Irving in 1929 to become a banker at Irving State Bank when they had only 3 employees. He had worked his way up to Vice Chairman of the Board and Trust Officers when he retired in 1975 after 46 years. The bank was then called Irving Bank and Trust.
As a local banker, Mr. Brandenburg was asked to advise the school district on money matters. He served at the school district’s treasurer into the 1950’s. He personally made the district’s annual report to the Texas Education Agency. He approved loans to Irving schools in difficult financial times.Mr. Brandenburg passed away in 1984 and is buried in the Oak Grove Memorial Gardens in Irving.
Research by Terry Meza. Interviews with Mary Sue Van Slyke and Charles Brown 2014. The History of Brandenburg Elementary (till 1977) document http://www.irvingisd.net/domain/1848 This web page was created July 2016 by the Celebrating Irving Committee of the Irving Heritage Society in partnership with Irving Independent School District. Photos used with the permission of Irving Archives, Irving Public Library and Irving ISD.