In 1931, Ruth Puckett Williams unknowingly began a family trend when she graduated from Chester High School, presently known as Thomas Dale.
Although the school and the surrounding Chester area have changed over the past 80 years, her family’s presence at Thomas Dale has notably remained unchanged. Today, ten of Williams’ descendants, spanning three generations, also identify Thomas Dale as their alma mater.
Thelma Williams Hevener, Williams’ daughter, followed in her mother’s footsteps, graduating from Thomas Dale in 1956. Thelma’s sons, too, pursued the same path for their high school diploma, Raymond Jr. graduating in 1977, Stephen in 1981, and Michael in 1982. After this third generation, six more Heveners have since followed; Christi in 2007, Kati in 2008, Donnie and Amber in 2010, Kristopher in 2011, and Courtney in 2014. As the present 2015-2016 school year comes to a close, the Hevener family prepares to celebrate another Thomas Dale graduation. Rachael Hevener, a member of the class of 2016, will become the twelfth in her family to accomplish this milestone.
Some Chester residents may recognize the Heveners from their family business, Hevener’s Tire & Auto, established in 1973, but others most certainly from walking the halls of Thomas Dale. “The Hevener name definitely follows you,” said Rachael Hevener. She recalls teachers and recurring substitutes recognizing her last name, leading to questions about her family and about her relation to Heveners from previous years, her cousins and siblings.
During their time at Thomas Dale, the Heveners were active students, participating in several clubs – National Honor Society, Knights for Christ, and Beta Club – and various sports- softball, track, volleyball, basketball, and football. Some, like Raymond Jr. and Stephen, of the third generation, remain active participants, attending meetings and refereeing football. Thelma of the second generation still joins members of her graduating class for occasional lunches around town. The Heveners, true Thomas Dale knights, undoubtedly bleed maroon and gray, sustaining an enduring mark on their alma mater.