Landon Lionettes

Landon Lionettes
Homecoming Court

Nancy Champion Rush, 79, was a beaming fresh-faced youth in her Landon Lionette uniform posing for photos during the early 1950s when she attended Landon High School. Now, as she carefully turns pages in the Landonian yearbooks, the intervening years vanish and it seems like yesterday. She reminisces about the Landon Lionette Drill Team and being its leader as a senior in 1953. Originally formed in 1933 by Miss Kathleen Turner, gym teacher, with just 40 girls, it eventually grew to 172 Lionettes.

“I was a Lionette each year we were eligible, 10th to 12th grades…it was just the thing to be a Lionette. We practiced complex formations daily after school, learned new routines for every performance and dared not miss practice.

Kathleen Turner

Kathleen Turner

Miss Turner was so strict and imposing we shook in our boots! We performed for football games with the Landon Band playing John Philip Sousa marches for us. We marched in downtown parades and in the 1952 Gator Growl Parade in Gainesville,” Rush said.

The girls were precisely arranged by height with identical uniforms and hairstyles. Every school year meant a new uniform, sometimes a skirt and blouse or a one-piece. The uniforms were sewn by drill team mothers and their unveiling was a highlight for the Lionettes.

“The new uniform Miss Turner designed each year was kept top secret and it was so exciting when we finally got to see them. They were always orange and white,” she said. “Besides sponsoring the Lionettes, Miss Turner was an outstanding gym teacher who taught us all kinds of sports including archery, bowling and table tennis.”




Rush was the daughter of Al Champion who owned Champion’s wholesale florist business, which became a mega DIY craft, artificial flower and Christmas retail store. She worked in the family business part-time for years. First located on Price Street near Riverside Avenue, after her father’s death in 1978, the business moved to Arlington. Champion’s closed in 2009.

Nancy married schoolmate Dan Rush (1951 graduate), who managed the Lions Football Team from 1949-51. Dan, a U.S. Air Force Pilot and civil engineer, worked in steel and concrete construction. They just celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary with their three children and spouses, seven grandchildren, one great-grandchild and their rascally Maltese, Rascal Rush.

Nancy Champion

Nancy Champion

Active at South Jacksonville Presbyterian, they support the Cancer Society, Sulzbacher Center, Salvation Army and Community Hospice. Dan fishes, visits hospital patients, and was a 50-year member of the Shriners, Masons, Scottish Rite, Jesters and Rotarians. Nancy plays marathon bridge, (10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) with a group of friends who’ve been together since the 1960s.

Gladys Mattingly Maxwell, 80, Nancy’s Lionette friend, was a senior and their leader in 1952. She remembers moving to Jacksonville, a nervous new ninth grader at Landon, then being warmly welcomed by the students; Maxwell keeps touch with many Landon friends. She attended the University of Florida and retired after 35 years with Independent Life Insurance Company.

Gladys Mattingly: Then and  Gladys Maxwell: Now

Gladys Mattingly: Then and
Gladys Maxwell: Now





“We lived on Hendricks Avenue, then on Worth Drive near Landon. I had many cheerleader and athlete friends…it was such fun to cheer on our great teams and travel to away games to perform…I was  proud to be a Landon Lionette…it was an honor to be chosen leader by Miss Turner. I never miss reunions or the Landon Ladies Luncheons every month at the Avenues Olive Garden,” Maxwell said.

Nancy Rush, Now

Nancy Rush, Now

Marka Booher Perrone grew up on River Oaks Road, followed her older brother David Booher onto Landon’s yearbook staff and became editor as a senior in the last graduating class, 1965. Her bittersweet memories of many students working together as a team to create that final Landonian are poignant.

“It would be the last yearbook. It felt like a huge responsibility, but so special to all of us gathering the photos and organizing the Landonian. Classes were small, everyone knew each other and we were proud of Landon,” Perrone said.

Beckie Paille Adcox grew up in Empire Point and graduated with the last Landon High School Class of 1965. She maintains a website (, email ([email protected]), Facebook, Landon Line phone number (904-221-5044) and alumni roster. A Landon High School Reunion is planned for April 17-19, 2015, Hilton-Homewood Suites Riverwalk in Jacksonville.


“Alumni, please don’t postpone contacting school friends because, sadly, every year we lose classmates,” Adcox said.

Beckie Paille: Then and  Beckie Adcox: Now

Beckie Paille: Then and
Beckie Adcox: Now

Marka Booher: Then and  Marka Perrone: Now

Marka Booher: Then and
Marka Perrone: Now










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