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W.E. Parker Elementary Renames School Store in Honor of Former Educator Joseph “Joe” C. Duprey

Johnston, SC – Joseph “Joe” C. Duprey was many things, but forgettable was not one of them. 

Duprey, a beloved Edgefield County School District educator who spent the majority of his professional teaching career at W.E. Parker Elementary School, was honored by the school during a special ceremony held Thursday, October 13, 2022, as the school’s store was officially reopened as the “Joseph C. Duprey Memorial School Store”. Duprey maintained the school store for many years. He knew his students and he always made sure they had what they needed to be successful and feel loved and respected. 

Duprey, who died September 27, 2016, had long been planned for the honor, but Covid kept those plans on the shelf for a time. A celebration of life was held for Duprey at W.E. Parker Elementary on October 4, 2016. 

Yvonne Duprey, Duprey’s wife, and his daughter, Ashia Duprey, both attended the ceremony and shed many “happy tears” along the way.

“He spent over forty years in the Edgefield County school system and to have him honored here at this school and in this way, it means a lot to me and I appreciate the school doing this,” stated Yvonne. “This was his second home.”

“This school was his heart and soul,” added Ashia, who attended W.E. Parker Elementary and who was also taught by her dad in the fifth grade.

Having her own father as her teacher was not as easy an experience. That’s because Joe Duprey treated all of his students the same. He filled their lives with joy, but he also took his teaching responsibilities very seriously.

“It was tough,” Ashia said with a smile, bringing with it so many memories. “He was harder on me than anyone else, I’m sure. I received no special treatment at all. He was a great teacher. A legend. You could go anywhere in this town and this community and he taught someone’s mother, or child, or both. This is special.”

“He made no exceptions for anyone because you were this person’s child or that person’s child, he treated everyone the same and that’s what I loved about him,” Yvonne added.

Joe Duprey was also a huge sports fan who supported his beloved Rebels whether they were playing at home or away. It didn’t matter which sport, he loved them all. 

“Wherever they were playing that’s where he was,” commented Yvonne. “He was at all of the games.”

Joe Duprey was kind and caring as a human being. Dedicated and committed as an educator. Fun-loving and a bit mischievous as a colleague. He loved a good laugh, and a good prank even more. Joe Duprey walked to the beat of his own drum and his coworkers loved him for it. 

“I know this has been a long time coming,” W.E. Parker Elementary Bookkeeper Andrea Armstrong, a coworker of Duprey’s who organized the event, told attendees. “He was a force here at the school for everybody, staff and students. We worked together for many, many years and the school store was his baby.” 

“This was closure for me and it’s a great picture of Joe,” added Donna Higgenbottom, Duprey’s former colleague at W.E. Parker who now teaches at JET Middle School. “We were the best of friends.”

That was the Joe Duprey everyone knew in public. In private, he was just as much a force for his students.

One of the things Armstrong holds closest to her heart about Duprey was how he often served as a lifeline for students who were experiencing difficult and even traumatic things in their personal lives. When they were afraid and in the darkest places imaginable, Joe Duprey was the person they reached out to.  

“There were times when students were in closets at home and things were going on that shouldn’t have been going on and they would call him,” Armstrong remembered. “They would call him and Joe would talk to them through the whole thing. Joe made sure he knew about his student’s lives and that he was there to help them.”

Educator. Colleague. Friend.

So many lives. Changed. For the better. Forever. 

Unforgettable – that was Joe Duprey.

ECSD Public Information