Miers Unassuming, Successful in High School

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Harriet Miers spent her teens in an all-white high school far removed from the racial and social upheaval of the early 1960s, consumed instead with academics, tennis and even a stint as the school newspaper's assistant sports editor.

President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court grew up in suburban Dallas — one of five children of Harris and Sally Miers — and former classmates remember a shy student who rarely attracted attention.

"I remembered that she participated in a lot of activities, but to a certain degree she was almost invisible at school," said Ron Natinsky, 59, who took a civics class with Miers and years later served with her on the Dallas City Council (search).

"You knew she was there, but you didn't know she was there. She went about her things, just did them, and you almost didn't notice."

The 1963 red leather-bound yearbook from Hillcrest High School (search) described Miers, then a 17-year-old senior in a class of 420, as "efficient, sweet and sincere, good at sports from what we hear."

During Miers' high school years, civil rights touched nearly every corner of the South, from lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C., in 1960 to the Freedom Riders (search) who traveled the South to test the 1960 Supreme Court ruling outlawing racial segregation in interstate public transit.

But racial integration had not reached Hillcrest, a three-year school that's still housed in the same large brick building in suburban north Dallas. It would be four years — 1967 — before Dallas schools were desegregated. Cultural changes in dress and lifestyle also remained on a distant horizon.

"Our teachers were 'Yes ma'am, yes sir.' We didn't have long hair. We weren't into the revolution that came a couple of years later," Natinsky said.

Miers captained the tennis team, served as secretary of the Latin Club and the National Honor Society and was treasurer of her senior class. She worked as assistant sports editor for the Hurricane, the school newspaper.

The yearbook described her as "best all around in sports" — an honor that Miers thought another student deserved.

"She wrote in my annual that I really should have gotten that award," said Janet Copeland, a former classmate. "I thought that was a very nice thing to write."

Copeland remembers a quiet, accomplished Miers who succeeded in what she tried.

"Not an extrovert but nevertheless very active, very involved," she said.

Tom Uhler, an online editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, grew up with Miers on tree-lined Preston Haven Drive in what was then a middle-class neighborhood on the northern end of Dallas' suburbs.

Uhler, 52, often played with Miers' three brothers — Robert, Jeb and Harris Jr. Even then, he said, "she was sort of independent. You never really saw girlfriends or boyfriends coming over that much."

"You know how older kids can sort of lord over you? She wasn't like that at all, she was kindhearted," said Uhler, who is eight years younger than Miers.

In a recent newspaper column, Uhler recounted one of his most vivid images of Miers: how she constantly practiced her tennis swing against the front side of her brick house.

"She was driven even then, determined to hit as many balls as close to the sweet spot on her racket as she could," he wrote.

Miers aspired to be a physician but abandoned that dream for the law, earning a degree from Southern Methodist University (search).

"I really came out of high school believing I wasn't bright enough to be a doctor," she said in a 1991 interview with The Dallas Morning News. "Career days at high school, you just got no encouragement."

Miers' brother, Robert, said the family didn't have a lot of money and that the five siblings tried to live true to their parents' middle-class values. Miers' sister, Catherine Miers Zurier, died in 2003.

The patriarch, Harris Miers, died from a stroke while Miers was in college in 1973, and her 91-year-old mother now lives in a Texas nursing home. Miers lives in a condominium in Virginia and spends weekends, when time allows, in Texas. She still owns a house in Dallas, which is for sale.