Weakley County Retired Teachers Pay Tribute to Deceased


DRESDEN (June 9) - Lillian Stoker and her committee hosted the Weakley County Retired Teachers Association meeting held June 9 at the Southside Church of Christ fellowship hall in Dresden. Nineteen members and two guests were welcomed to the meeting by President Wanda Powell.

WCRTA paid tribute to seven members deceased since June of 2019. Dining tables were covered with bright yellow cloths, and baskets of green plants adorned the center of each table. The remembrance table, covered with black cloth over white, displayed a white candle for each teacher, lit in tribute. A biography was read to honor each of the group’s departed teacher friends.

Vice President Larry Myrick gave the eulogy for Dr. Gordon Morris. Dr. Morris began his teaching career at Palmersville School and retired from the University of Tennessee at Martin as a professor of biology. He served on the Weakley County School Board from 1987 to 2018 and as chairman 25 of those years. He was also President of the Tennessee School Board. Gordon’s wife, Paula, is active in WCRTA.

Melba Bell read the tribute for Bettie Cooper Higgs. Bettie spent her career as a teacher; she loved seeing children learn, especially those who needed a little extra help. Bettie, who overcame the debilitating illness of polio, become a teacher, an active member of multiple community activities, and a mother of three. She sat several years on a Tennessee council advocating for people with disabilities.

Joan Pritchett was remembered by Kathy Stover. Joan, greatly respected by her fellow teachers, friends, and community, taught at Martin Middle School before becoming the principal at Martin Primary School. She worked in the Weakley County Central Office as supervisor of elementary education. When her first grandchild was born, she retired to keep him. Later, she was elected to serve on the Weakley County School Board for a number of years.

Hyla Richardson was honored by Katana Hawks. Hyla began her teaching career with a two-year teaching certificate from the Tennessee Polytechnical Institute, Cookeville. Her first teaching assignment was at Bowlstown, Tennessee. Her salary was $53 a month. Hyla, a strong advocate for teachers on the local and state level, spent the last several years of her career at Martin Elementary School as a teacher of Special Education. She retired with her BS, her Master’s, and 45 hours above her Master’s.

Doris Lee’s biography was presented by Betty Nan Carroll, WCRTA treasurer. Doris taught first grade at Martin Primary School for 41 years. She served as assistant principal for much of that time. After retirement, Doris supervised student teachers for the College of Education at The University of Tennessee and Martin until she moved to East Tennessee to live closer to family.

Vanessa Lynette Bright was a teacher for 41 years and worked as a speech therapist for the last few years of her career. She retired from Sharon School. She and her husband moved to Florida to live close to their children. She emphasized the value of education to her family and all who surrounded her. Two of her three children attained their doctorates.

The tribute to Carol Brann was presented by Hazel Hankerson. Carol graduated from Palmersville High School and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She began her teaching career in Home Economics at Palmersville. She transferred to Dresden High School, where she would later transition the Department of Home Economics to Family and Consumer Sciences. She retired from Dresden High School.

The hosts of the meeting presented a beautiful basket of green plants to President Wanda Powell to express thanks for her service.

A catered lunch by Rene Kimsey was enjoyed by all.

The next meeting of WCRTA will be held at the Martin Masonic Lodge on September 8, 2021, at 10:45 a.m.