J. Harold Brinley was an influential educator in the history of Clark County School District. His 39-year tenure as an award-winning teacher, principal, administrator and finally superintendent of schools in the 1950s earned him a school, our school, which was posthumously dedicated to him in the 1970s.
Mr. Brinley passed away in 1968 in a plane crash and has dozens of family living in the valley. Most have called Las Vegas or Henderson home for their whole life. Brinley and his wife, Vera Lee, had two daughters, Rowena and Audrey June. Rowena, who goes by "Rae," is in her late 80s and lives near St. George, Utah. The sisters produced seven grandchildren for Brinley, including Morris' mother, Terry Walker. Walker said there were 38 great-grandchildren and many great-great-grandchildren. Brinley was very close to his grandchildren and insisted they call him "Granddad."
Walker remembered visiting his home on the 500 block of Ninth Street, where he was always caught singing and teaching little lessons. The home was near Las Vegas High School, where he taught. He was ahead of his time health-wise, Walker said, because he didn't eat refined sugars or a lot of red meat. "He was very intelligent," she said. "Of course, we loved sugar, and he was always trying to convince us it's not good for you." Walker was floored when she once saw him eat an ice cream cone. He had a good sense of humor about the instance, she said.
It may be no surprise that he was co-chairman of the Nutrition Council through the American Red Cross. Brinley was devoted to his wife through her times of illness. "He just adored her," Walker said.
Outside of family and the classroom, Brinley spent time volunteering for the Boy Scouts of America, was on the board of trustees for the YMCA and helped establish the American Red Cross through Community Chest, which is now the United Way of Southern Nevada.
None of Brinley's descendants attends or has attended Brinley Middle School. Morris is the only family member she knew of who followed in his footsteps to study education.