Retired superintendent going strong at 98

Posted at 12:32 AM on May 8, 2019


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Born and raised in Iredell County, William Thomas Poston (center) celebrated his 98th birthday at Statesville Historical Collection on Monday.


Dr. William Thomas Poston celebrated his 98th birthday on Sunday, May 5, surrounded by his family and friends.

Poston, who lives independently in a condo in Statesville and still drives, is both physically and mentally sharp. He can fly through the details of his own history with exactitude.

Even more impressive is his ability to recall local history, places and people instantly and without hesitation.

His family hosted a public drop-in birthday celebration at the Statesville Historical Collection, where he can often be found during the week. Around 50 people attended the event Monday afternoon.

A big smile spread across Poston’s face as familiar friends from the Celeste Henkel area, his stomping grounds, stopped by share old stories and reconnect.

From Humble Beginnings

The seventh out of eight children of Henry and Mary Poston, he was born and raised in Statesville from humble beginnings. He grew up during the Great Depression. After his parents lost two houses in Statesville to bankruptcy, the family moved to the Shepherd community, where their home lacked electricity and other amenities that he was used to.

While enduring the hardships of poverty, Poston became a stronger person. He studied by candlelight to finish high school and graduated valedictorian of the Class of 1938 at D. Matt Thompson High School.

After graduation, he married Nancy Brawley, beginning a union that spanned nearly 65 years until her death in 2004. Together, Tom and Nancy raised three children, William Thomas Poston Jr., who is deceased, Gary Poston and Carolyn Bartlett.

Poston, a Davidson College graduate and World War II veteran, went on to have a distinguished 32-year educator career. He was a giant in the field of public education — starting as a teacher which led him to school leadership roles and eventually to an 11-year tenure as superintendent of Iredell County Schools.

The caring and compassion that Poston possessed as a science teacher also extended to the students when he served as a principal. According to his family, his concern went beyond students’ grades. He always wanted to be fair and never showed favoritism.

He served as superintendent from 1970 to 1981, retiring at the age of 60.

Poston’s lasting contribution to Iredell County was overseeing the integration of schools and consolidation of eight high schools into two during his tenure as superintendent.

Carolyn Bartlett said she was proud of her father, who has been a strong role model throughout her life.

“He is a strong Christian. His walk with the Lord was always first,” Bartlett said. “It was imparted to us.”

During his retirement, Poston has remained active in the community. He is involved with Bethlehem Methodist Church, The Statesville Historical Collection and a senior singing group that performs at local nursing homes.

He is frequently asked for advice on education issues and other topics. He’s happy to give advice to those who ask.

When he’s not out and about, he enjoys spending time with his family.

Paisley, his great granddaughter, surprised family members a few weeks ago, Bartlett said, when the 2-year-old sat beside Poston on the porch listening intently as he told her about the history of the property. She kept nodding during their conversation, Bartlett recalled, as though she could clearly understand the experiences of a man who has spent nearly a century here on earth.

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