Farmer Pride… The Battle of the Axe… The LHS Wall of Fame… If you’re familiar with any of these traditions from Lewisville High School, you’re familiar with the legacy of Doug Killough.
Killough came to LISD from Alabama in 1982 to serve as the principal of LHS. After 15 years in that role he was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Student Services by then-Superintendent Dr. Clayton Downing, where Killough served until his retirement in 2005. He had all the appropriate credentials and experience to run a high school and oversee the district’s student services, but it wasn’t the resume-building components that set him apart. It was human element.
He was involved with the students, getting to know them and their needs, interests and dreams. Whether it was the everyday things like interacting with students in the hallways, or the fun things like participating in their talent shows with them, or the charitable things like buying a coat or replenishing a lunch account for a student whose family just couldn’t, he was selfless and quick to give of his time, his talents and his resources (often anonymously so as not to change his relationship with the students).
“It was never a job to me,” Killough said of his years in LISD. “And I was never in it for monetary reward. The rewards in education aren’t financial. The reward is seeing students succeed. It’s when you hear from a student years later who has reached out to thank you for your leadership.” Killough was motivated to meet the needs of his students and build strong bonds with them.
Community was important to Killough. He viewed his role as principal as one of community builder. He joined local service organizations and participated in civic activities – commonplace activities for principals today, but new ground in 1982.
When LISD opened Marcus High School and made it a comprehensive high school, Killough saw a potential split in the community. He worked with MHS Principal Larry Sigler to create The Battle of The Axe – an annual meeting of the LHS and MHS football teams, where there’s a trophy on the line, but community spirit in the air. It was important to maintain the bonds these kids shared growing up in the same community even when they walked different halls during the school day and lined up on opposite sides of the ball on Friday night. His support of community was apparent to students, parents and teachers alike.
“During the LHS football state championship years, you couldn’t find a bigger fan,” Matt Barfknecht, a student at LHS during the Killough years, said. “Doug was a huge part of the success that Ronnie Gage and the LHS football team had during those seasons.
“And as intimidating as he could seem,” Barfknecht continued, “He was always an entertainer as well! There is old video of him dressing up as Elvis and singing several Elvis songs at a pep rally!” (LEF was unsuccessful in attempts to locate and post that video. Should it surface, LEF will update this page to include it.)
Killough believed in the students and families of Lewisville High School. It’s truly a unique place. A phrase frequently ascribed to it is:
From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it.
But Killough boiled it down to just two words, coining the phrase still used on all three LHS campuses today: Farmer Pride.
“Mr. Killough was an amazing leader in LISD as an assistant superintendent and principal of LHS,” Principal of the LHS campus named in Killough’s honor Pam Flores said. “Mr. Killough coined the phrase ‘Farmer Pride’ while he was the principal. He was a part of every BLT meeting at LHS-Killough, he judged events, and has spoken to our students about Farmer Pride. He was a committed leader in every way!”
Killough knew Farmer Pride isn’t something you leave behind when you graduate from LHS. It stays with you no matter where you go and what you do in life. Killough recognized the importance of alumni to a school’s success. With that in mind he started the LHS Wall of Fame. Originally housed in the previous Main Street campus, when the school was rebuilt, the Wall of Fame was, too, taking its rightful place in the foyer of the new auditorium, where the faces of accomplished LHS alumni from every generation greet visitors. Those faces tell the story of what is possible for graduates of LHS – anything they set their minds to!
His penchant for building community, building up students, and celebrating the success of alumni are the reasons that the LISD Board of Trustees voted to name the first LHS ninth grade campus in his honor. The LHS campus structure has evolved over the years, but the campus on Summit Avenue still bears his name.
“Although it has been years since he has been an employee of LISD, he was involved daily through his work with DATCU and LEF,” Jennifer Barfknecht, an LISD employee during Killough’s tenure as assistant superintendent, said “My daughter-in-law teaches at Degan Elementary, where Doug was like another member of their staff! He visited frequently and everyone loved him. On a recent visit, he took a selfie with the whole staff. He was an asset to the district and its students and staff!”
Killough’s legacy is strong and enduring, for certain. He continued to impact students even after retirement, partly because of his continued involvement with the students and teachers of LISD through community service, his role as a member of the LEF Board of Directors, and his business development role at DATCU; and partly through the Doug Killough Honorary Scholarship, awarded annually through the LEF Scholarship program to a senior graduating from LHS in the top quarter of the class, who has financial need, and is active in school and community activities.