Eunice Sybil Chute was born in the little mill town of Manastee, Alabama on Oct. 6, 1908, the second of six children. The town no longer exists, but we understand it is still listed as a voting precinct; a precinct in which there’s no one to vote! In 1910 the family moved to Muhan Junction, Mississippi where Eunice began her first year of school. There followed moves to Pelahatchee and Philadelphia, Mississippi where she graduated from high school in 1925, and spent her freshman year at Mississippi State College for Women. In 1926 the family moved to Georgia and Eunice graduated from Georgia State Women’s College in Valdosta in 1929, licensed to become a teacher or school administrator.
She began teaching high school in St. George, GA and after two years transferred to Charlton County H.S. to teach English and “one or two other subjects”. Over the course of the next 15 years these turned out to be typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, ancient history, girls’ gym, and the extra curricular sponsorship of the newspaper, annual, basketball team and drama club. During Eunice’s last two years at Charlton H.S. she served as principal in addition to her full-time teaching and sponsorships.
In the summer of 1946 Eunice was enrolled at Peabody College for Teachers to complete requirements for her MA in English and School Administration. A 3-day recruiting center had been set up at Peabody to find teachers for military dependent schools in Europe which would be opening in the fall. On impulse, she stopped in to see what it was all about.
On Oct. 6, 1946 Eunice boarded the U.S.S. George Washington headed for Bremerhaven, Germany, where she joined the first 125 or so teachers to be hired for the dependent schools. Her first assignment was at the high school in Berlin as a business teacher. She had signed a contract for one year and stayed over twenty, serving in Germany,France and England: Berlin-6 years; Orleans, France-1 year; Erding, Germany-2 years; Wiesbaden, Germany-3 years; London Eastcote-10 years.
It was during her second year as elementary principal in Wiesbaden,1956, she met Harold (Hal) Matthews, the new principal at Wiesbaden American H.S. They married in the summer of 1958 and transferred to the London area. They retired in 1967, but remained living in London an additional year.
Eunice and Hal relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1968, and became very active in church work. Hal passed away in 1976, and Eunice took on additional church duties and also joined the St. Petersburg Writers Club.
In 1988, at a Writers Club meeting, she met Samuel T. Johnson and they were married later that year, eventually moving to South Pasadena, Florida. After 12 years together, Eunice passed away on March 29, 2000 leaving her saddened husband, four stepchildren, a sister, Gayle Parker, and assorted nieces and nephews.
Eunice is also recognized on ‘The Magnificent Seven’ paver given by AOSHS to honor its seven members who were part of the original group of educators to open the military’s overseas schools in October 1946.
Prepared from “My Life in a Nutshell!” by Eunice Matthrews-Johnson written in 1992.