KILGORE, Texas (AP) — Some teachers leave a lasting impression on their students.
That was the case with Daryl Zevely's third-grade teacher, Regina Bull.
The Longview News-Journal (http://bit.ly/UiJMBi ) reports Zevely has given his former Elder Elementary School teacher a Valentine's Day card every year — without fail — since 1946.
Holding the most recent card she opened this week, the petite 91-year-old retired teacher beamed.
"He has never missed a year," Bull said of her former student. "Not one."
Zevely was in the first class Bull taught not long after she graduated from the University of Texas. Elder Elementary School, which closed around 1958, was on Texas 31 at a crossroads west of Kilgore.
Long-retired and now leaning on a walking cane for support after having suffering a stroke, the 77-year-old Zevely on Wednesday said of Bull, "She was a special teacher."
It started out as a student giving his teacher a Valentine's card — like everyone else in the room. But to little Daryl Zevely, Mrs. Bull was special enough that when he moved on to fourth grade, he made the effort to walk back to her class to drop her a card. Then he did it the next year and the next — even after he moved up to junior high and then high school.
Zevely graduated from Kilgore High School in 1955. He went to college, married, moved across the country and raised a family, but he never failed to remember his third grade teacher.
"A couple of times when I was away, I'd call my mother and ask her to be sure to send a Valentine's to Mrs. Bull for me," Zevely said.
The gesture was always appreciated.
"It made me feel great, to think he'd be concerned about me," Bull said. "He'd tell me about his life and his wife and his kids."
There was no one else he sent cards to — though Bull is proud to say she received cards and letters from lots of former students she taught during her 39-year career.
But no one kept in touch like Zevely.
On the 50th year of sending her cards, he wrote her a poem that ended with these lines:
"And so I speak for all the kids entrusted to your care
You really made a difference and we often think of you
Since all the little things you taught
Shine forth in all we do.
And when our grand kids go to school
It pops into our minds
That they'll be lucky just to get a teacher half as fine."
She reminisced Wednesday about a teaching career that spanned four decades.
"People don't realize what kind of impression they have on kids. Each child is a person. They are all different .... You have to treat them as individuals."
As for the cards from Zevely, the little boy who was in her very first class who remained so loyal?