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Rick Filson, Beloved Taylor HS Teacher, Loses Battle with Cancer


April 15, 2020

By Jennifer Miko and Natalie Cook Clark

The Taylor High School Mustang family lost a special teacher on Friday when Rick Filson, 62, lost his fight with cancer. The history teacher was praised by students and faculty members and will be remembered fondly for touching their lives.

Rick and his wife Pamela were married for 40 years. The couple has three children: Melissa Filson Benitoa, Richard Filson, and Jeffrey Filson, and four grandchildren: Taylor Filson, Braden Jones, Jackson Benitoa, and Bella Benitoa.

For 20 years, Filson impacted students in the classroom, and athletes on the field. Many described him as a mentor and good listener.

At Taylor High School (THS), Filson taught Pre-AP World History. But past and present students recall that he taught them valuable life lessons too.

Never Too Busy to Listen

“It’s hard to put into words what Mr. Filson means to me,” says Andriana Gregovic (THS ’18).

Gregovic was in Filson’s class when she was a sophomore. She described him as open-minded and said he cared about the well-being of his students.

“He was never too busy to talk or listen or lend a helping hand," says Gregovic. "When I think of the qualities a teacher should possess, I think of Mr. Filson."

'Leading the Way' From 1999 to 2007 Filson taught at the Alief Elsik Ninth Grade Center. While there, he was selected by the school’s leadership team to participate in the "Capturing Kids' Hearts" and "Leading the Way" programs. He was also a five-time recipient of the Elsik Ninth Grade Center "Simply the Best" award.

Filson started teaching in Katy ISD at THS in 2008. He collected accolades from the students and the staff and was often times named the "Pacesetter Teacher of the Week." He was also a "Spotlight Teacher" and frequently selected as the favorite for Teacher Appreciation Night for all athletic sports.

For two years, Filson was a Teacher Representative for the THS "Best Buddies" program. He also participated in the “Community in Schools” program as a Teacher Mentor. In 2015, Filson was honored as the "Taylor High School Teacher of the Year."

Mustangs Support Their Mentor

Last year, Taylor High School students organized a fundraiser to support Filson, with proceeds dedicated for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The t-shirt featured a blue cancer awareness ribbon and the message “Fight for Filson.”

A message posted on the fundraising website said, “Mr. Filson is always there to be a shoulder to cry on or a person you tell amazing news to. Remember, Mr. Filson may not have changed the world, but he did change the world for many.”

The initial goal to sell 150 shirts was surpassed with a total of 653 orders. Through t-shirt sales and donations, the group raised $10,190.

Dozens of people posted comments when they ordered their shirts:

"Mr. Filson has been a great mentor to me and has helped me find confidence both in and outside of the classroom. There are not enough words to say how grateful I am for Mr. Filson and the love and passion and encouragement he never fails to give."

- Sydney Blanchard

“I love Mr. Filson with all my heart. That man has been there for me on so many occasions. He deserves the world.”

- Gladys Edwards 

“Not enough words to express how much I adore Mr. Filson. He has been a mentor not only to the students but to all of us at THS. We love him dearly.”

- Becca Connlins Vandagriff

Rick Filson at Taylor HS (pictured on the right)

Everyone's Coach

Many of Filson’s students fondly called him “Coach.” Throughout his career, he certainly wore many hats. While in Alief, he coached middle school boys’ soccer. For three years, he coached both Little League Girls’ Softball and Little League Baseball. He also coached Division I Boys Soccer for eight years. From 2008-2012, he coached the THS Girls’ Soccer JVA team and was an assistant coach to the Varsity Girls’ Soccer team.

Filson will be remembered by the Mustang family as a teacher, coach and mentor.

Gregovic adds, “Some teachers leave an impact that lasts a lifetime, but Mr. Filson leaves one that lasts even beyond that. I will miss him and remember him always.”

Condolences may be sent to:

The Filson Family

1410 Roundleaf Ct.

Katy, TX 77494


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