Priceless: Fort Worth couple’s contributions honored

Betty and Jim Price 

In an armoire at the end of a nondescript hallway lie a few clues: a military aircraft model, a folded U.S. flag and naval aviation manual.

But to fully appreciate the sacrifice and ongoing contributions of Jim Price and his wife, Betty, one needs to spend time in the couple’s apartment at The Stayton at Museum Way in Fort Worth.

In their spacious home three floors above the hallway display, the Prices recall helping Fort Worth public schools, college-level training efforts and the students who continue benefiting from those endeavors.

“There are so many who do so much here that I’m surprised they chose us,” said Jim, shaking his head after he, Betty and neighbor Kathryn Bryan were named the retirement’s community’s first residents to be recognized for their past and present accomplishments.

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The Stayton began the quarterly program this year, aiming to recognize residents who have made an impact on their community through past professions, personal hobbies and ongoing volunteerism.

The Prices fit all three criteria.

“We’re very honored to be named, though there are so many others,” said Betty, 77, reflecting on a life spent educating students, designing their classrooms and creating home-economics curriculum for girls, and even boys, of the era.

She did just that after moving to Arlington and meeting her future husband at the Fort Worth Baylor Club, an alumni organization where Jim served as president.

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That meeting occurred in September 1961 after Betty, also a Baylor alumnus, moved to the area to teach at Arlington High School. Some friends urged Jim to make her acquaintance.

“One of them wanted to make sure she and I met that night. That led to marriage,” said Jim, 84, a retired attorney and Navy pilot.

The couple married in June 1962.

With Jim working as an assistant city attorney in Fort Worth and Betty teaching at Arlington High School, the newlyweds bought a home in east Fort Worth. “We wanted to pick a place in between” Fort Worth and Arlington, Jim said.

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The home was often empty as its owners began making their mark. After teaching home economics at Arlington High School, Betty helped lay some of the curricular and structural foundation at Sam Houston High School after it was built.

Not only did she draft the design for home economics labs, featuring full-sized kitchens, living-dining areas and sewing labs and offices, but she also helped create the syllabus for boys’ home-economics studies.

“It was the most fun. Anything I threw at them, they did it. I just taught them everything they needed to know if they were ever bachelors,” Betty said.

While Betty oversaw cake baking and other domestic chores, Jim began a career that would include three years as an assistant city attorney. He later would serve 20 years as a trial attorney with the Federal Aviation Administration and seven years with the Federal Highway Administration.

Along the way Price spent several years in the U.S Navy. Price served five years on active duty from 1954 to 1958 and time in the Naval Reserve ending in 1985.

He juggled military duty with legal studies before graduating from law school in 1954.

Both military and legal disciplines served him well in 1983 when he served on the Federal Highway Administration’s legal team in defending plans to expand Interstate 30 in Fort Worth. The vision finally reached fruition, despite opposition from Citizen Advocates for Responsible Expansion Inc. and other plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, the Prices contributed countless hours to Baylor, where 18 family members have graduated. The Prices founded the Baylor Parents Club to host send-off parties for Baylor-bound freshmen; their efforts were honored in 1985 with the Outstanding Baylor Parents Award. Both Jim and Betty have served on the Baylor Alumni Executive Board, with Betty receiving the W.R. White Meritorious Service Award from the Baylor Alumni Association in 1993.

“I was honored to receive that award,” Betty said. “It’s given to an individual who has advanced his or her chosen field and made a significant impact in the world.”

Though retired from the legal profession, Jim still offers legal advice and is currently helping an individual find paperwork to prove he served in Vietnam to receive veterans’ benefits.

“We’re trying to get people who remembered him for sure,” Jim said.

Students and parents alike remember Betty’s role in launching a volunteer program at Tanglewood Elementary School in Fort Worth, where the couple’s children, Ashlyn and Matthew, attended.

“I saw a need and they really appreciated it,” Betty said, referring to parents who volunteered for office duties, field trip supervision and other tasks.

When the Prices’ children attended Paschal High School in the early ‘80s, Betty said, she noticed real estate agents promoting private schools.

“We knew we were superior, though,” said the proud parent, who organized coffees for real estate professionals, even having Paschal students take them on school tours.

“They were blown away,” Betty said of the agents. “It was really successful.”

Years after retiring from education, legal and military professions, Jim and Betty remain active. Whether collecting for the Arborlawn United Methodist Church food pantry, where the Prices are members, or serving as mentors for the SAGE (Seniors Assisting in Geriatric Education) program, in which people 60 and older help health-care students gain experience through free blood pressure checks and limited physical exams, among other services, the Prices seldom relax – except aboard C-130, C-5 and C-17 aircraft.

“We try to travel as much as we can,” said Jim, who is known to grab naval squadron flights from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth to Europe, Iceland, Australia, Singapore or any other destination on his and his wife’s itinerary.

Based on his military experience, the couple is eligible to ride free on military aircraft to destinations worldwide.

“We see trips on the [Naval Air Station] website and call 24 hours ahead. And we’re on board,” Jim said.

Back to the armoire. Look closely and several artifacts are clearly visible: a model of a SF2 Grumman Tracker anti-submarine, carrier-based aircraft; a flag flown over the nation’s Capitol when Price went into the retired reserve, a U.S. Naval Aviation manual, among others.

Greeting passers-by three floors below the couple’s 1,300-square-foot apartment, the display shares their experience with residents who they consider close friends.

“This is such a great place to live,” said Betty, who designed the couple’s former Stonegate neighborhood home, where they lived for 13 years before retiring to The Stayton when it opened in 2011.

Though she misses her former home, Betty said she loves her new residence and neighbors. Plus, the apartment is easier on the feet.

“I don’t have to walk so far to the front door when the doorbell rings.”