Significance of Our Campus Name
Minnie B. Gay was born to Thomas J. and Kathrine Lawler in St. Louis, Missouri on August 4, 1868. Mrs. Gay came to Brownsville from Jefferson, Texas in 1908. Her husband, Portes Gay, was chief of the Border Patrol at Brownsville. In 1918, Mrs. Gay acquired a 40 acre tract in Harlingen which remained intact until the railroad cut through leaving 37 acres. She died of pneumonia on July 17, 1944 in Austin and is buried in Brownwood, Texas.
On December 21, 1948, a site was donated by Robert Everett Smith of Houston in memory of his mother Minnie B. Gay. Smith was an oil operator in Conroe and son from Mrs. Gay's first marriage to Robert Davis Smith in 1891. Smith was cited as trustee for his daughter, Bobbie Sue Smith, 1 year old at the time, for whom the tract had been given. Of the 37 acres, a deed for 6.8 acres was given to J. Lewis Boggus, president of the school board for the future Minnie B. Gay Junior High School. Brownsville attorney Robin Pate, a family friend, was credited with generating the gift. On hand were board members Arthur Purdy, F. Earl Davis, T.D. King, J.R. Fitzgerald, Guy Leggett, and W.W. Ballard business manager.
Through the Years
In 1949, the first junior high school in Harlingen, Minnie B. Gay Junior High School, was built on the corner of 13th and Madison. Its architects were Cocke, Bowman & York, and its contractor was E.J. Waitman. It was a two-story building with an auditorium and separate wing. In the 1990s, its name was changed to Memorial Middle School for political correctness.
In 1962, students were asked to submit drawings for a Raider mascot. The winning entry was a cowboy drawn by James Stevenson. A rendition of that mascot was proudly displayed in the weight room and main staircase until renovations were made in 2000. In 2009, Memorial PTA commissioned Carlos R. Leal, an art teacher at Harlingen High School South, to revamp the Raider.
In 2010, a bond for major renovations and construction in HCISD was approved, and the district broke ground for the new campus at a new location in 2011. After more than half a century, Memorial Middle School continues to embody excellence at its new facility, which opened its doors on August 27, 2012. The Cardinal tradition starts here!