A long time Dawson County educator and principal died last week from burns sustained in a kitchen fire.
Betty Jean Styles, 83, of Dawsonville was involved in a cooking accident at her home.
From all indications it looks like her clothing caught fire while she was making something on the stove, Dawson County Fire Chief Lanier Swafford said Monday. This is an example of how quick things can happen, and while we dont know the specific situation of what she may have been wearing, loose fitting clothes should be avoided when cooking.
Styles was transported to Grady Hospital on March 28 and died from her injuries on April 1, Swafford said.
Styles had a long career with the Dawson County school system serving as a teacher, principal and assistant school superintendent during tenure.
She was one of the pillars of our community when education was formed and started in Dawson County, said Dawson native Roger Slaton, a former student. She was an excellent principal, very detail minded, and was never one who asked for or craved attention. She always came to work. I would bet money she had the best attendance record in our school system. She never missed a day.
Slaton recalled that Styles never lowered the bar on her students.
She wouldnt accept that a student couldnt learn, he said. Back in those days, there wasnt special education. She just kept working with the students, and brought out the best in them.
He also recalled that she could be stern when needed.
I had my hands slapped a time or two with a ruler, Slaton chuckled. And I remember when we heard her heels clicking down the hallway, wed have to straighten up.
Former Dawson County School Superintendent Nicky Gilleland worked with Styles as an assistant principal.
She had a career that touched a lot of people, Gilliland said. It was evident by the people at her funeral last week. She was hard working, dependable, intelligent, and had a real heart for this community. She gave her whole life to us.
Gilliland shared that he learned how to treat people fairly and how to work with people from Ms. Styles.
If she had something on her mind, shed be very direct with you, he said. She had a lot of passion and if she liked you, she was very loyal.
Her passion and drive were evident at the end of the school day.
I remember her feet would be so tired, that shed run them over this roller she had after all the kids were gone, Gilleland said. Wed sit together and talk about the kids and the day. She was a great mentor, a great science teacher, and she prepared a lot of people for their future.