Wm. Jesse Avery, Sr.
William Jesse Avery, Sr., son of Joseph Marshall Avery and Fannie Davis, was born October 14, 1876 in Jackson Parish. He married Nella Gertrude Larrabee in 1905. They were the parents of two children, Frances Nelle (Mrs. William J. Erwin) and W. J. Avery, Jr.
Avery attended Louisiana State Normal College for a short period of time before beginning his teaching career. He later returned to the Louisiana State Normal College and obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree. He also attended the University of Chicago and Louisiana State University.
Avery began his teaching career in Jackson Parish. He later came to Lafayette Parish to teach and became Principal of Lafayette High School. In April 1908, he was appointed Superintendent of Schools in Lafayette Parish at a salary of $125 per month. That summer, because of a lack in funds, the Board decided to open schools for only five months. In January 1909, the Board set the salary of the Superintendent at $1,200 per year for the next four years. Avery refused to accept this and resigned.
He then went to Winnfield where he became Principal of Winnfield High School. In 1916, he was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Rapides Parish Schools. The following year, he was appointed Superintendent and served for many years. He later worked at the Louisiana State Normal Placement Bureau until his retirement in 1932.
Avery was active in the educational field and served as President of the Louisiana Teachers Association in its early years. He was a pioneer in promoting visual education. He was listed in Who's Who in American Education. After his retirement in the educational field, he did volunteer work in the Army testing program in Louisiana and in Texas.
Avery died in Alexandria in 1945.
Dr. N.P. Moss was President of the School Board at the time of Avery's appointment. In December 1908, Dr. F.R. Tolson was electd President and served during the remainder of Avery's tenure.