Frances Percival might be ready to give up directing traffic at Millwood football games, but the 86-year-old isn’t ready to give up her seat on the school’s board of education.
The Oklahoma State House of Representatives and Senate honored Percival on Monday for her service to the district. She is believed to be the longest-serving school board member in the United States. Percival has served on the Millwood board since 1970.
Before she was elected to the board, she was a volunteer in the district. All told, she has 52 years of service to Millwood.
Monday’s events were a surprise to a woman who prides herself for being in the know.
“I knew absolutely nothing about this,” she said. “How they kept the secret, I don’t know, because I always know exactly what’s going on. There aren’t words to describe it. This has been the surprise of my life.”
Percival’s son and daughter attended Millwood schools. She first got involved as a PTA member and president. She doesn’t miss many sporting events and visits the school several times a week. She lives just across the street.
“I love my kids and I love my school,” she said. “I don’t love everything they do, but they are my kids. We have a good community and I can’t say enough for it. We’ve had some hard times with bond issues and this and that. But when you walk down the halls and you see this big football player and he hugs me and says ‘Hi, Mrs. P,’ it just melts you.”
Percival has had just a few opponents since 1970. There were four candidates in her first race. Her three opponents received a combined 100 votes. She received the other 300. She said her secret is being willing to listen.
“Don’t get so set in your own mind that you can’t see what the other person is offering,” she said. “Work out your problems. Don’t just sit there and say no. That doesn’t work.”
Percival is planning on running again when her term is up in 2016.
Millwood Schools Superintendent Cecilia Robinson praised Percival’s dedication to the district.
“She goes through every board agenda, every detail, and she questions everything,” Robinson said. “She is a staunch advocate for the community and that our dollars are spent wisely. She’s not a passive board member at all. She’s very active. She’s a huge part of our community.”