HUNT COLUMN: For All the Saints

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, November 9, 2022

By Cathy Hunt
Chairwoman, Troup County School Board

This past Sunday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, we held our annual special service for All Saints Day, during which we commemorate church members and loved ones who have passed away in the last twelve months. On this year’s list of the deceased was the name of a long-time teaching colleague, which caused me to reflect on the lives of the now Faithful Departed who touched my life through my career. I’d like to remember them in this space. The “roll call” includes:

Ralph Johnson, the principal who hired me straight out of college for my first (and only!) Troup County teaching position and who led with integrity and by example.

Bette Jabaley, my first department head, who was proudly “old school” and was completely dedicated to her mission to expect the best – and get it.

Wylene Rholetter, another of my early English teacher mentors, who was thoughtful and passionate and who wrote poetry.

Jone and Lois Debnam, a power couple at old Troup High, he the assistant principal and she a teacher, big-hearted and supportive.

Elizabeth McKinney, who kept teaching as long as she could while battling cancer. I remember her dragging a rolling IV around her classroom so she wouldn’t have to miss school.

Dariel Daniel, with whom I had spirited debates, but even when we disagreed I knew he always had my back.

Gary Ward, a coach and special education teacher, who always had a smile and kind word for everyone.

Linda Preston, one of my closest co-workers for many years, a hard-working teacher and a loving friend.

Mr. Charlie, who cleaned my room while I was still hanging around after hours.  We shared many a chuckle.

Clark Johnson, who as history teacher and local historian was an amazing fount of knowledge. He also had a wicked sense of humor that I always quite enjoyed.

Unfortunately, the list goes on: Bobby, John, another Charlie, and colleagues from outside Troup High School, including Marty and Katha.

Several of these good folks who have gone on to glory lived into old age after enjoying years of retirement; many were taken from us much too soon, whether in retirement or not.

Noted American historian and journalist Henry Adams long ago wrote: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” This influence extends to students and co-workers alike.

We have many, many saints still in our classrooms today, earning their golden crowns with their efforts made on behalf of the students that they love. 

When you think about it, everyone out there is a teacher, whether professionally or not. Every stone we drop into the water through our words and deeds ripples out to touch countless others. That is reason enough to try to live with integrity.

Our colleagues who are no longer with us are deeply missed, but the fruits of their labors go on and on.