Wilma "Lea" Langley, a longtime teacher and student publications adviser in the former Grant Union High School District, died Aug. 3 of lymphoma, her family said. She was 79.
Mrs. Langley retired during the late 1990s after teaching English for more than 30 years in the Grant district, which is now part of the Twin Rivers Unified School District. She started at Norte del Rio High School and later taught at Highlands, Foothill and a continuation high school.
She oversaw the student newspaper, the Hoofbeats, and the yearbook, the Equi, at Foothill High School. Former students recalled her as a dedicated teacher who encouraged young journalists and defended freedom of the press.
"She believed we were capable of putting out a quality product and didn't interfere," 1972 Foothill graduate Ellen Beckstead Link said. "She would back us up against the administration. She was very much a proponent of letting students say what they needed to say."
Mrs. Langley was born Wilma Lois Rippetoe on Oct. 24, 1932, in the Ozark mountain town of Lee's Creek, Ark. The eldest of six children born to a lumber worker and his wife, she moved with her family to Susanville during the Great Depression.
She married and started a family before graduating from Lassen Union High School. She persevered with her education and moved to Sacramento in 1962 to earn an English degree from California State University, Sacramento, and later earned a master's degree in communications.
Her marriage to her first husband, Homer Langley, ended in divorce. She was predeceased in 2002 by her second husband, Gary Comphel.
Mrs. Langley lived in midtown Sacramento for many years. She previously was active in the Washington Neighborhood Association.
Survivors include two sons from her first marriage, Brian Langley of West Sacramento and Bruce Langley of Sacramento; a brother, Floyd Rippetoe of Wilton; two sisters, Ruby Stead of Westhope, N.D., and Ella Sannes of Carson City, Nev.; one granddaughter; and three great-grandchildren.
Services are pending. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sacramento chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.