Anytime a man admits up front that his wife and children are the rocks of his life, I’m a fan because in this crazy world in which we live, I don’t hear that nearly enough. However, that is exactly what Danny Prater of Dublin, Texas did recently in an interview with Patty Hirst.
Yes, according to Danny, it is the love of his wife Debbie and children, Darren and Monica, that brings daily joy to his life, and after hearing his story, I’d have to say that if anyone deserves joy, Danny Prater does.
Today, Danny is retired, but he can well remember those early years, the years that probably unknown to him, were molding him into the man he is today because instead of letting the hard years beat him down, Danny Prater allowed them to make him stronger, something that we greatly admire here at Texansunited.com.
I don’t know the particulars, but at the age of eight, Danny began his life with his aunt and uncle in the Purvis community. As was common in our small Texas communities of the mid-twentieth century, the couple farmed their land, and Danny helped.
The young boy’s workload increased dramatically upon the death of his uncle when Danny was in the seventh grade. In addition to keeping up with his schoolwork, he and his aunt continued to raise cattle, hay, a garden, and they even slaughtered their own animals.
If you’ve lived in rural Texas for any length of time, you have heard of the drought of the 1950s, especially in light of this year’s horrible drought. However, against all odds, Danny and his aunt survived, but it was not easy. I assume they made it simply on guts and determination because there were many times that Danny Prater came home after school, climbed into the seat of the tractor, and stayed there until midnight, only to get himself to school again the next morning.
As an aside here, I have to insert that it seems to me that this work ethic is exactly what so many have lost today. As a teacher of high school students for many years, I taught some wonderful young people. However, I also saw how easy it became for students to make all kinds of excuses as to why they could not succeed.
I have to wonder if just maybe we’ve strayed so far from the tractor seat that we have weakened our young people until they no longer really understand what hard work is and how much can be achieved when we work as hard as we possibly can toward the goals we set for ourselves.
Danny, however, was not a product of the twenty-first century. He knew how to work and that in that work were the keys to his future. Believe it or not, he became a student athlete and he worked as many hours as possible at the newly opened Texaco station on Patrick Street.
Danny Prater was a fine athlete and won all types of acclaim on the football field as well as on the track. However, because of a late birthday and the fact that too many absences his sixth-grade year caused him to be retained, Danny was a nineteen-year-old senior and ineligible to participate in sports.
It was also during his senior year that Danny lost the anchor in his young life, his Aunt Essie. As tempted as most of us would have been to just sit down and give up, Danny did not do that. He lived on his own in a garage apartment for his senior year, continuing to plan for his future.
As I’ve said, Danny was ineligible to play football his senior year, but he understood that football could be his key to the future. He suited up and practiced with the team every day, staying in shape physically and praying for the scholarship that would get him into college.
Once again, hard work and determination paid off, and Ranger Junior College offered the young athlete a full ride. Danny was an outstanding athlete for Ranger where he also worked at a gas station and even did babysitting to earn the money he needed.
After completing his two years at Ranger, Danny moved back to Dublin. He entered Tarleton State University, worked forty hours a week in Mineral Wells, and worked weekends at the Texaco station in Dublin…all while carrying fifteen college hours.
In 1971, Danny Prater was hired by Dublin ISD, and the rest is history. People like Mr. Prater make the best teachers known to education because they know what can be done with hard work and they are not as willing to accept excuses from their kiddos.
From what I have been told, this was certainly true with Danny Prater whose “Tell me the truth!” and “Be on time!” and “WORK HARD!” will be remembered by generations of Dublin ISD students who were fortunate enough to be influenced by Mr. Prater, the once young Danny who often carried the weight of the world on his young shoulders.
Here at Texansunited.com we salute Danny Prater for standing and turning a tough situation into a success story as well as Patty Hirst for bringing Danny’s story to us!