Jessie Sloan Heron, the daughter of two Maryville College alumni, came to the MC campus from Ohio, where she had been born and reared. With a bachelor’s degree from Wooster College and a master’s degree from Columbia, she had been a high-school teacher and principal before accepting a position as Instructor in Latin in the College’s Preparatory Department in 1919.
She was appointed to the College’s English faculty a year later. She taught composition in one of those long, narrow, second-floor classrooms, and according to historians Walker and Blair “had a reputation for toughness and a sharp tongue.”
An avid football fan and close friend of Lombe Honaker, she never missed a home game and could often be found on the practice field in the afternoons following class. She went out of her way to keep student-athletes eligible, which meant extra tutoring sessions and encouragement. She valued hard work and fair play, and stressed these attributes to all of her students – athletes or not.
Across the decades, many players came to view her as an unofficial sponsor of the team. Among her proudest moments was seeing the College’s 1946 team be invited to the Tangerine Bowl.
In 1982, eight years after her death and 25 years after her official retirement, she was inducted, posthumously, into the College’s Athletic Wall of Fame. Her induction read, in part: “Miss Heron’s devotion to the football teams was extraordinary. However, it exemplifies the type of mutual support between athletics and academics that has characterized the Maryville College scene down through the years. It is the type of spirit that has strengthened both of these important areas of the College, and made it the strong institution that it is.”