Mr. Bishop (GA) – Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute the members and supporters of the Muscogee Retired Educators Association (MREA) as they commemorate its 50th anniversary this year. A celebration luncheon will be held on Friday, June 22, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center in Columbus, Georgia.
MREA was established as the Muscogee Retired Teachers Association (MRTA) in 1962 when Mr. Boyd B. Littlejohn and a small group of other retired Muscogee teachers decided to organize themselves in order to better attend to the needs and concerns of retired teachers in the area. Mr. Littlejohn, a retired principal who served St. Elmo, Clubview, and McIlhenney schools, became the first president before going on to serve as president of GRTA from 1965-1967.
In its early existence, members of MRTA would meet in their homes or in churches. Ms. Ruth Plumb and Mrs. Rex Lavender served as presidents until MRTA became inactive for a short period. In 1972, J. Zeb Morris, retired principal of Waverly Terrace and jazz pianist, became president. After this, MRTA began to grow in membership and was able to improve its service to retired teachers.
Throughout the years, the association has been led by distinguished retired educators such as Lucile David, Lyda Hanna, Nathan Hunter, Brice Carson, Jack Shepard, Laura Haygood, L.B. Hickson, Sumter Blackmon, John Little, O’Neal Hendricks, Kathryn Hunt, Esto Smith, Anita B. Walters, Dr. Jeanette Marshal and its current president, Diane Boss, among others.
Mr. Nathan Hunter also served as GRTA President from 1979-1980 and Mrs. Lucile Hunter, his widow and an MRTA member, presented his GRTA gavel to the MREA. The gavel is a treasured keepsake and is passed on to each succeeding MREA president.
In 1998, the GRTA changed its name to the Georgia Retired Educators Association to include all those who work in the field of education and are under the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia. MRTA followed suit, changing its name to the Muscogee Retired Educators Association (MREA), as it is called today.
In addition to having served as teachers, mentors, and role models throughout their career, members of MREA continue to serve the community in retirement by volunteering their time to help out at schools, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, museums, libraries, health screening venues and other places. A number of members also volunteered at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Columbus for fast pitch baseball.
In past years, MREA has consistently been presented with competitive Membership awards from GREA. Also, MREA strives to help active teachers by awarding scholarships to those seeking graduate degrees.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that my colleagues join me in applauding the exceptional efforts of the Muscogee Retired Educators Association for all they have done and will continue to do to address the needs of our retired educators. Not only did MREA members provide a great service during their careers teaching our young people, but they have continued that legacy of service in the community in retirement and for that, I thank each and every one of them.