John Haley Elementary opened in 1950 with 177 students and 20 classrooms. The 10 acre school site was purchased from C. P. Schulze in 1949 for $8000. In 1958 eight more classrooms and a lunchroom were added. In 1967 another wing and the library were added. The school’s facilities were updated in the last bond building program. Today the school serves around 800 students.
This school was the third elementary school built in Irving ISD. At that time it was called West Elementary or West Ward. The school is located on MacArthur Blvd., which at the time of the school’s opening was called Perch Hill Rd. The name was changed to John Haley Elementary in 1953.
Principals have included Max Tunnell, Lynn Connor, James G. Day, Cecil Carson, Robyn Bowling, and Tosha Reeves. The current principal is Lindsey Sanders.
Dr. John Haley was born February 17, 1866 on a ranch in what today is western Irving. John attended the Sowers School. He later taught at the Sowers School and then at the Shady Grove School, which is located on the west end of Shady Grove Road in Grand Prairie. His father, William Haley, was an early pioneer in the Irving area. One of his brothers, Thomas Haley, also has a school named after him in the Irving ISD.
John married Viola around 1889. They had a daughter in 1890, but she died in infancy. Viola died a year later in 1892.
After Viola’s death, John decided to pursue a career in medicine. He attended medical school in Galveston and received his medical license in 1897. He returned to the Sowers community, which is now part of Irving, to begin his medical practice. He was a physician for over 40 years in Irving.
Early on Dr. Haley rode horse back or used a horse drawn buggy to see his patients. Frequently his medical services were paid for with home grown meat or produce. Later, he was one of the first people in this part of the country to drive a car.
In 1906 he married Anna Good of Virginia. She was a relative of the Good family who had a farm around the area of today’s Esters Road. John met her while she was here visiting the family.
In 1908 the couple built a home in the newly established town of Irving. It was located on Second and Ohio streets. Today the house stands around the corner on Third St. where it was moved and renovated in 1998. Today Family Promise, a non-profit ministry that supports families experiencing homelessness, operates out of this house.
Dr. Haley returned to medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans to obtain his surgeon’s license in 1907. He wanted to learn how to remove cataracts because his father was suffering from this ailment. After receiving his license, he did perform that surgery on his father on the kitchen table in the Haley home. The operation was successful. His grateful father gave him 40 acres of land along what today is Belt Line Road.
Dr. Haley was well respected in the community. He was elected mayor of Irving in 1927. During his term he improved the city’s sanitation system and oversaw the construction of a deep well for city water use. Electric lights came to Irving during his administration as well. He also worked to see that the city helped its citizens during the Great Depression. In 1931 the town bought land from the Senter family for the city’s first park. Today this park, Senter Park, is located at 901 Senter Rd.He served as mayor until he resigned shortly before he died on February 11, 1932. He is buried in the Haley Memorial Cemetery.
Research from the Irving Public Library Archives, Irving, Texas: From Rails to Wings by Norma Stanton, Ancestory.com, and Find-a-Grave.com http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=19683731. Pictures used with permission of Irving Public Library Archives. This web page was created January 2017 by the Celebrating Irving Committee of the Irving Heritage Society in partnership with Irving Independent School District.