Addie Rushton Lewis

Pioneer in Education for Okaloosa County, Florida


Addie Lewis

      Addie Rushton was born in Rutledge, Alabama.  She met and married Vernon Lewis in 1924. At the time he owned a general store so she moved to Valparaiso, Florida, when she married Vernon.  Their son Allen was born in 1943.  But her husband, Vernon died in 1946.  So Addie raised their son by herself.


     So by 1931 she was teaching in Okaloosa County schools.  In the 1950s she became the Principal of Niceville School (grades 1 through 12).  In 1968 she became an Assistant Superintendent for Instruction in Okaloosa County. She was the first woman to attain a senior management position in our county public schools.


     Her work and dedication to public education continued.   She helped introduce guidance programs and foreign languages into the school system.  She spoke of working with the then-superintendent of Okaloosa County Schools, Mr. Lance Richbourg,  at the time when the school system gave birth to what would become Okaloosa-Walton Junior College.


     She said that his enthusiasm was not immediate. "It took him a little while to go along with the movement," she recollected. "When he realized the need, he was very much interested and did everything possible to bring it about.”  She went on to say that it did take "some persuading" on Richbourg’s part to get others to warm up to the notion of a junior college. Addie ought to know because Richbourg was her boss. In early in 1963 he sent her to California to examine first hand how the junior college system was functioning there.


Addie R. Lewis was a dedicated educator in Okaloosa County schools for forty-two years – 1931 to 1973.  She also served on the Valparaiso City Council and has a school named after her.  She was inducted into the Okaloosa County Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995.  She died in 2001 at the age of 100.


Block Museum Educational Services. 2008. Baker, Florida