The Midway ISD family is mourning the loss of two longtime educators who died within 24 hours of each other Monday and Tuesday.
Former principal Sharron Zachry died in a crash on Interstate 35 crash near Ross on Monday evening, and Cindy Ledbetter, director of the Goal Tenders dance team, died in her sleep early Tuesday morning after battling cancer, according to a statement released by Midway ISD.
“For Cindy, I wasn’t expecting it now, but it wasn’t a shock because she’s been so sick,” Superintendent George Kazanas said Tuesday afternoon. “For Mrs. Zachry, that is a shock. She’s been retired from the school district for a couple of years, but her life and legacy is Midway.”
Zachry, 65, retired from Midway ISD in 2015, Midway ISD spokeswoman Traci Marlin said. She was a teacher and a principal at Hewitt Elementary School and an assistant principal at the middle school before taking the principal post at the high school. Before her retirement, Zachry served as the first principal at Castleman Creek Elementary, which opened in 2009.
Also a Midway High graduate and Homecoming queen, Zachry and her family helped develop the Woodway community. She also has a street named after her, Kazanas said.
Zachry served as Amanda Raynor’s PE teacher in elementary school, then as her high school principal and was a friend to Raynor’s grandmother, Raynor said. Midway ISD has lost one of the district’s greatest assets, the 2004 graduate said.
“She was a very solid foundation when I went through some things as a child, and I always kept in contact with her. She is one of the reasons I went to school to become a teacher,” Raynor wrote in a Facebook message Tuesday. “Sharron always reminded me to take the extra time to listen to people because you will always learn something and that your legacy in life will be what you make it. She consistently urged me to ‘stay the course’ and ‘make a difference,’ and her impact on my life is immeasurable.”
Zachry and her husband, former Major Leaguer Pat Zachry, were on I-35 near mile marker 354, when their 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck ran off the road and rolled onto its passenger side, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. D.L. Wilson said Tuesday night. Sharron Zachry was not properly wearing her seat belt at the time of the wreck and died at the scene, Wilson said.
Pat Zachry, 64, was driving and was airlifted to a local hospital. He was in stable condition Monday night and was expected to be released, Wilson said.
Emergency responders got the call about the wreck about 6 p.m.
Sharron Zachry was a quiet leader who never wanted attention but was always willing to step in when needed and always supported her staff, Kazanas said. He last saw her Sunday evening at a restaurant, he said.
“She was just a wonderful balance that sometimes you don’t see these days, but with Sharron, you knew exactly where you stood, and she just had that warmth to her that you know she would support you,” Kazanas said. “In the early ’90s, and I don’t like to overuse phrases, but she was a vanguard in terms of a woman administrator at a high school.”
Ledbetter, a Midway alumna, served as the dance team director for the past 22 years and was the 2012 Teacher of the Year. She gave her heart to Midway long ago, often declaring she had been a Midway Panther since first grade, Kazanas said.
For Stasha Austin, who graduated in 2004, the loss of her coach is overwhelming, she stated on Facebook on Tuesday morning.
“Oh Coach L, you are so loved. When I talk about high school, I am always referring to my dance team experience. Those were such formative years for me with coming from a broken home, trying to figure myself out and trying to fit in. You were always there. You had such a listening ear and a gentle spirit that truly shaped how I lead now,” Austin wrote on a memorial page for Ledbetter. “Being an officer and eventually a captain truly changed how I viewed myself. I followed and have continued to follow your example of servant leadership, and the way you did everything with excellence always pushed me to be better.”
Austin’s story is just one example of how Ledbetter was known for helping shape the character of Midway ISD students, Kazanas said.
“You would sometimes equate a Goal Tender dance team with one of those really outgoing, larger-than-life personalities, but that wasn’t Cindy,” Kazanas said. “She was very firm, very strong in her values and belief systems and what she expected from her girls and from her team. She was able to not only teach dance, but at the same time teach character, teach values and teach ethics to the girls to show them what a mature, grown woman could do.”
With the losses days from the Thanksgiving holiday and the deaths of two Midway ISD students earlier this school year, all Kazanas can do is ask Midway family and friends to remember how fragile life is, he said.
Visitation for Sharron Zachry has been set for Friday evening at Wilkerson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home, but the exact time had not been determined Tuesday night. A funeral will be held at the Midway Performing Arts Center at 10 a.m. Saturday.