50th Year Anniversary
On November 5, 1970, Kenneth Pitts sent an affiliation request to the Indiana Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) from Dearborn County retired teachers to become an affiliate. The request was received by the Indiana Retired Teachers Association on November 9, 1970. On September 1,1972, the IRTA Board of Directors approved the formation request for the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association (DCRTA).
First minutes of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association
On Thursday, December 21, 1972, at 3:00 p.m., seventeen retired teachers and three state officers met at the Oak-Hat Restaurant between Aurora and Lawrenceburg for the purpose of organizing the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association (DCRTA). In attendance were
E. L. Morrison Eugene Gabbard Evelyn Darling
Ellamarie Williamson Blanche Ashley H.C. Benedict (state)
Florence Rolf Lula Kemp Paul L. Phillippe (state)
Forest Mosier Verle Rumsey Robert Shelby
Beatriz M. Kyle Earl Utterback (state) Herman Grinstead
Alma Buchanan Mildred Cole Grace Kyle (not retired)
E. L. Morrison was named acting chairman and Evelyn Darling as secretary. Each teacher introduced him or herself and gave number of years taught and interesting facts. Perhaps the most unusual was that of Ellamarie Williamson. Not only had she taught forty-five years in the same school but in the same classroom.
Mr. Earl Utterback, Mr. Paul L. Phillippe, and Mr. Harold Benedict each spoke on conditions now existing among retired teachers, some purposed legislation, and organization of retired teachers.
An election was held to elect officers for Dearborn County Retired Teachers’ Association. The following officers were elected:
– E. L. Morrison –
– Eugene Gabbard –
– Forest Mosier –
Secretary – Mrs. Alma U. Buchanan – Moores Hill
Committee: Herman Grinstsead
Evelyn Darling –
(Mrs.) Elizabeth Ogden – Lawrenceburg
(Mrs.) Estella Rawlins – Moores Hill
Mr. Utterback expressed his thanks for the interest and enthusiasm shown by those in attendance.
Hot rolls, doughnuts, and coffee were served during the meeting.
It was decided to hold a meeting in January to get more retired teachers interested and make more definite plans.
Meeting was adjourned,
Evelyn Darling, (Sec. pro tem)
Alma U Buchanan, Sec’y.
In the 1973 IRTA Representative Assembly book the following statement from the IRTA Membership Committee Report is included:
Congratulations to the officers and members of these County Retired Teachers Associations who since September 1 (1972) have become active organizations:
We welcome your organizations as active groups of retired teachers to join the already 70 organized county organizations who form the IRTA.
IRTA records show that in the IRTA fiscal year 1973-1974, fifty-three Dearborn County retired teachers were members of the IRTA.
Interesting Facts from the Early Years
1. At the January 24, 1973 general meeting twenty-two retired teachers met in the basement of the Aurora Public Library. Mr. H.C. Benedict, IRTA State Legislative Committee Chair, spoke on House Bill 1119 pertaining to retired teachers and stated the three parts of this Bill, namely:
a. Enough money to make pensions work.
b. Help for retired teachers who are on so called “starvation pension,” – that is less than $100 a month pension and no Social Security.
c. Automatic cost of living increase of 2%.
2. In 1974 there were sixty-five retired teachers in Dearborn County; twenty-two were members of DCRTA.
3. At the March 1977 general meeting the DCRTA Constitution was changed to have four meetings a year instead of two (January and November). The January meeting was changed to March, a June dinner meeting was added, a September trip meeting was added, and the November meeting remained the same.
4. The various locations of the September trip meetings throughout the years included: Sherman House – Batesville, IN; Clifty Falls Inn – Madison, IN; Beef and Boards – Harrison, OH; Butler State Park – Carrollton, KY; Ogle House – Vevay, IN; and Carnegie Hall – Moores Hill.
5. The early January, later March, and November general meetings were held in the Aurora Public Library basement and various churches in the county with Hamline Chapel as the most frequented. A social hours was held either before or after the meeting serving cookies, punch, coffee, and cookies.
6. The June dinner meetings were held at various locations: Tree House in Aurora, Blue Star Restaurant between Lawrenceburg and Aurora, Chalet at Hidden Valley, and one at Dante’s Restaurant in Western Hills.
7. At the March 19, 1980, general meeting, a motion was made to send $10.00 to the IRTA Scholarship Fund for memorial of deceased DCRTA members.
8. In 2008, the Executive Committee made the decision to hold the 2009 meetings during the months of April, June, August, and October. This change was for the benefit of the snowbirds who were in Florida during the months of March and November.
Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association Presidents
DCRTA have had many members serve as President of the Association. Following is a list of these presidents:
E.L. Morrison 1973-1974 Mary McElfresh 1995-1999
Mabel Long 1974-1976 Larry Givan 2000-2001
Jeanette Graver 1977-1978 Charlie Workman 2002-2003
Kenneth Pitts 1979-1980 Dennis Bourquein 2004-2010
Wilma Gerkepott 1981-1982 Jim Pierce 2010-2014
Jeanette Graver 1983-1986 Denise Kaffenberger 2014-2017
Rosemary Watkins 1987-1988 Jim Pierce 2018-2021
Kenneth Pitts 1989-1990 Judy Mosier 2021-present
Earl Mann 1991-1994
Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association Vice-Presidents
Eugene Gabbard 1973 Mary McElfresh 1993-1994
Verle Rumsey 1974 No V-P 1995-1996
Marian Smith 1975-1976 Larry Givan 1997-1999
Mary Lou Elliott 1977 Charlie Workman 2000-2001
Kenneth Pitts 1978 Dennis Bourquein 2002-2003
Eugene Gabbard 1979-1981 Patty Rullman 2004-2006
Kenneth Pitts 1982 Jane Wuestefeld 2007
Wilma Gerkepott 1983-1984 Marilyn Cook-Booker 2008-2012
Mabel Long 1985 Denise Kaffenberger 2012-2014
Lucile Schaich 1985-1988 Linda Lyness 2015
Dale Knigga 1989 No V-P 2016-2017
No V-P 1990 Marlene Dozier 2018-2021
Mary Frances Murray 1991-1992 Janet Hart 2021-present
Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association Secretaries
Alma Buchanan 1972-1978 Etta Bostwick 2004-2008
Mariam Smith 1979-1980 Sharon Anness 2008-2012
Irene Rumph 1981-1982 Jean Petscher 2012
Mary Murray 1983-1988 Pam Kaiser 2013-2014
Marian Smith 1989-1990 Sue Strasemeier 2014-2017
Lucille Schaich 1991-1999 Jim Pierce 2017-2018
Louise Cutter 2000-2001 Cathy and Larry Weber 2019-2021
Karen Gates 2002-2003 Patty Harper 2021-present
Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association Treasurers
Forest Mosier 1972-1976 Sabra Duerstock 2002-2005
Grace Kyle 1977-1980 Phyllis Callaway 2006-2008
Belle Moreland 1981-1982 Connie Hilton 2008-2010
Edward Hayman 1983-1986 Janet Hornbach 2010-2014
Floyd Kroger 1987-1996 Tina and Dale Jensen 2014-2021
Dois Givan 1997-2001 Etta Bostwick 2021-present
DCRTA Membership Participation in the IRTA
Since DCRTA’s association with the Indiana Retired Teachers Association there has grown an active participation in the state organization. A number of DCRTA members have become state committee members or chairs, area directors, and one a state officer. As an area directors or state officers, these members served on the Indiana Retired Teachers Association Board of Directors.
DCRTA members who have participated or are currently participating in activities at the state level include:
A) Committee members: Etta Bostwick
Betty Bourquein – state committee chair
Dennis Bourquein – state committee chair
B) Area Directors: Mary McElfresh 2002 – 2006
Dennis Bourquein 2006 – 2010
Jim Pierce 2010 – 2014
C) State Officer: Dennis Bourquein
Secretary-Treasurer 2011 – 2013
President Elect 2013 – 2015
President 2015 – 2017
Past President 2017 – 2019
DCRTA Achievements in IRTA
Anthem/AMBA Clock Award
A number of DCRTA members have won the highest Volunteer Service award given by the IRTA. The award, originally known as the Anthem Clock Award is now known as the AMBA Clock Award. These recipients were/are:
2005 Mary Weber 2010 Sharon Anness
2006 Catherine Droege 2011 Marita Cizek
2007 Marilyn Cook 2018 Cherie Rump
2008 Betty Bourquein (Ripley County) 2019 Jo Sloan
2009 Judy Mosier 2020 Mary Bradley
Community Service Award
Throughout the years Dearborn County has been recognized by the IRTA for its Outstanding Community Service Projects. Projects and the year received are:
1992 Collecting and sending non-perishable food items to Hurricane Andrew victims
2006 “Packed for Learning” – School supplies for needy children
2007 Recognition for the beginning of Retirement Seminar for active teachers
2008 Recognition for 1st Active Teachers’ Grant Award
2009 Teacher Treasure Sale
2010 Apples, Apples, Apples
2011 Pillowcase Dresses
2012 Training to administer the AIMS reading evaluation test to students
2013 Establishing the DCRTF Endowment Fund for Teacher Grants
2014 Pillowcase Dresses with addition of Shorts for Boys
2015 Re-structure of Teacher Grants program to include businesses and local organizations
2016 Poetry Contest in Dearborn County Public and Private Schools for Indiana Bicentennial
2017 DCRTF recognition of public school nurses with luncheon and monetary gifts
2018 Partnering with DCRTF to sell tickets at the local 4-H Fair to raise funds for the Teacher Grant Program
2020 Making of three-layered masks to combat the Covid Virus
With Our Youth Award
After the Apples, Apples, Apples project won the 2010 IRTA Outstanding Community Service Project award, the IRTA Community Service Chair forwarded the project to the National Retired Teachers Association for the With Our Youth recognition. Later that year the IRTA received word that the project had indeed won the national award. The recognition was quite an honor for both associations. The following year on October 19, 2011, Dearborn County was recognized for the award at the Retired Teachers Appreciation Day held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol.
The Apples, Apples, Apples project began as the Apple Pie Ministry of the youth at Mt. Sinai United Methodist Church under the direction of Judy Mosier. Money received from the project was given to Relay for Life to fight cancer. As the project grew, more and more helpers were needed and Judy called on the assistance of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers. In 2010, when the project received the With Our Youth award, 1,090 apple pies and 2,300 turnovers were made in 5 ½ days. A profit of $11,072 was sent to Relay for Life that year from the project.
Public Relations Awards
Another DCRTA recognition by the IRTA has been the area of Public Relations. In 2005, after having served on the IRTA Public Relations Com0mittee for two years, Dennis Bourquein, then DCRTA President, decided to create a newsletter for the DCRTA. After a discussion with the DCRTA Executive Committee, the name of The Recess Bell was selected for the newsletter. On June 15, 2005, the first edition of the The Recess Bell was presented to the membership. Over the next few years the newsletter went through several minor changes, but the main sections remained: 1) Message from the President, 2) Meeting dates and times, 3) General Meeting Minutes, 4) Treasurer’s Report, 5) DCRTA News, 6) IRTA News, 7) Listing of DCRTA and IRTA Officers & Leaders, and 8) a Humor Section. The newsletter eliminated the reading of the Secretary and Treasurer reports at the general meetings and it gave the membership a hard copy of information for them to take home.
In 2006, DCRTA began a long stretch of Outstanding Public Relations’ Recognitions at the IRTA Representative Assembly. The recognition included: Outstanding Newsletter, Outstanding News Releases, and Outstanding Website. Articles for the newsletter and news releases were written by DCRTA Presidents, Committee chairs, and the Foundation Director. Bourquein was assisted by his wife, Betty.
In 2005, the DCRTA Executive Board decided to hold a Pre-retirement Workshop for future teacher retirees. ISTA had stopped holding these workshops in the southeastern Indiana area though they were greatly needed. The first workshop was planned for November 2006 in the Lawrenceburg High School auditorium and was available to active teachers in the counties of Dearborn, Ripley, Franklin, Ohio, and Switzerland. To raise money for this event the Executive Board held an auction in September 2006 at the Greendale Cabin. From the sale enough money was raised to hold the workshop. Marilyn Cook and Jane Wuestefeld headed the Workshop Committee.
Through the years the workshop has continued to be an expected and important event for active teachers considering retirement. The venue has changed over the years, but attendees have continued to appreciate the event. Participation have ranged in numbers from fifteen to over fifty.
The Educator Grant Award and Foundation
The Educator Grant Award was first introduced to the DCRTA membership on June 18, 2008, by the DCRTA Executive Committee. The award was to provide an active teacher in Dearborn County with a $500 financial gift to promote a new program in his classroom. Bonnie Kelley chaired the new committee. Over the next two years a silent auction and the auctioning of a painting by a local artist funded these grants. Both projects, although well planned, did not meet the financial needs necessary to advance the progress toward a grant award. Finally in 2008 the idea of a Teachers’ Treasure Sale was conceived. For the sale the retirees brought boxes of materials that were stashed away in their attics and garages for sale to active teachers in the county. Surprisingly, the basement of the Tanner Valley United Methodist Church was filled with all kinds of teaching materials. At the end of the sale the DCRTA had taken in $756.80!
In November 2009, Betty Bourquein became the chair of the Educator Grant Committee. During her leadership the committee learned that it must obtain its 501 (c ) 3 status to be able to offer tax-deductible receipts to its donors. At this time the Foundation applied for non-profit status with the federal and state government. Articles of Incorporation, a separate set of By-Laws, and a separate Board were required for the establishment of the Foundation. In 2012 DCRTF became the charitable branch of the retired teachers. Their mission was to promote innovative and creative learning in the classroom.
The Teachers’ Treasures Sale continued to be the main fund-raiser for the organization. The sale raised enough funds so that in 2009 the first Educator Grant Award could be given. Over the next eight years, the Teachers’ Treasure Sale continued to be a source of income for the Educator Grant Award. The Foundation partnered with the Dearborn County 4-H Fair in 2018 and this now has become the main fund-raiser for the group.
The next step for the Foundation was to establish an endowment so that funds could grow and eventually feed the Educator Grant program financially. In 2013, the Foundation started an endowment fund with the Dearborn Community Foundation and immediately became a member of their Legacy Society. The Dearborn Community Foundation has been a great blessing to the DCRT Foundation. Through this partnership, DCRTF has seen not only their yearly contribution doubled by DCF and the endowment interest fund grants, but the Community Foundation itself has become a supporter of the program by financing individual grants for active teachers.
DCRTF applied for and was accepted into membership with the Indiana Association of Public Education Foundations (INAPEF). This organization provided leadership and donated $400 for DCRTF to get started.
In 2014 the Knights of Columbus asked if they could join the Foundation so that grants could be made available to the parochial school in the county. As of 2021, nine grants have been given by various Knights of Columbus organizations.
Over the years Bourquein worked to encourage local businesses and organizations to help fund requested grants. The interest has been amazing. From one grant per year, the total numbers of grants given annually gradually increased to sixteen grants being awarded in 2019, with DCRTF funding only three or four of the grants.
A great benefactor of the DCRT Foundation’s work has been the Betty McLaughlin Foundation. Betty McLaughlin was a beloved teacher and member of the DCRTA. Her family has continued her interest in education by creating their own Foundation in her name. Since its association with the DCRTF, five grants have been given by the Betty McLaughlin Foundation.
Foundation Award Winners of With Our Youth
The DCRT Foundation, as a Legacy member of the Dearborn Community Foundation, submitted Geraldine Barber in 2018 and Jasica Robinson in 2019 as Heart of Gold nominees. AARP had also sent applications to the Foundation for their With Our Youth award. Both Barber and Robinson won this prestigious national recognition in their respective years, winning the glass trophy and little red wagon for this recognition.
Barber’s award was for her work with the pillowcase dresses. Barber was instrumental in the beginning of the pillowcase dress project in 2012. After finding a pillowcase dress pattern, she asked her retired teacher friends if they could help her with this project. Soon the ladies had made hundreds of dresses which were being personally carried to overseas missions. The project continued to grow and the request for the dresses kept coming. Soon there were requests for dresses for the mothers and boys shorts too. Again, the ladies answered the call. Materials for the dresses and shorts began to come from individuals far and wide as they heard about the project.
The ladies met, and continue to meet, weekly in the Lawrenceburg Community Center. The Center’s staff even help the ladies with the set-up and tear-down of the sewing machines. As was mentioned earlier in Community Service Projects, the pillowcase dresses and shorts project has been the winner of three IRTA Outstanding Community Service Project awards. Today the number of dresses and shorts sewn reaches into the thousands. This project has become one of the most well-known DCRTA activities. Several ladies have helped Barber in developing this program. Jean Vaughan helped for a number of years in co-chairing the project, Mary Bradley has been influential in making the barrettes used to decorate the dresses, and Judy Mosier now helps to organize the sewing.
During 2019, at the start of the COVID pandemic, the pillowcase ladies began to make adult and kid-sized masks to protect their loved ones. Funds and materials were again donated to this worthwhile project.
Robinson’s With Our Youth award was for her work with the Think Smart, Stay Safe program which she wrote and developed. Taking over sixty adult volunteers into southeastern Indiana school, she and the volunteers teach fourth and fifth grade students about their safety at home and school, on the internet, with strangers, and elsewhere. Working with the Indiana State Police, she updates kids as young as second grade to strategies to cope with dangerous situations.
Robinson also serves as the youth leader for her church and has taken a group on a servant event every year. They have worked in Alaska, California, Idaho, Texas, Iowa, Minnesota, Florida, New Orleans, and Appalachia. Every third year the group attends a National Youth Gathering. Robinson also has volunteered with Kicks for Kids, a charity founded by former Bengals kicker Doug Pelfrey which provides opportunities for less fortunate children.
The Dearborn County Retired Teachers Foundation began in 2015 to honor the grant award winners on a Foundation Facebook page. The page was later changed to the include news, activities, and concerns of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association and the Indiana Retired Teachers Association and Foundation.
Court of Honor
In 2019. President Jim Pierce began a program entitled Court of Honor for lifetime members. With this program DCRTA members who had given many years of service to education and the community were honored. With many inductees, family and special friends came to the ceremony to see their loved one honored. Honoree in the past have included Louise Cutter, Mary Alice Crouch, Betty and Tony Gilb, Maxine Klump, Earl Mann, Alma Trennepohl, Sharon Anness, Bill Hopping, Mary McElfresh, Betty McLaughlin, Gerald and Alice James, Mary Evelyn Rump, Lucile Schiach, Robert Henman, Londalea Murray, Marita and Clint Cizek, and Patti and Roger Rullman.
One of the major thrusts of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association is making our legislators knowledgeable of the volunteer service that retired teachers render to the state and their local communities. The collection of volunteer hours each year from retired teachers helps the IRTA Legislative Committee and leadership negotiate with the state legislators for a COLA or stipend each year.
Each year individual counties collect hours from their members. These hours are then sent to the IRTA Area Community Service Chairs. The Area Community Service Chairs sends them to the state chair who tabulates the total hours. Prior to the year 2000, the hours were only reported in the IRTA Representative Assembly book by state areas. Since 2000, each individual county’s hours are being reported. Since 2000, Dearborn County has reported 739,662 hours! In 2021 the value of a volunteer hour, according to the IRS tax standards, was $28.54. That means that the Dearborn County retired teachers have given back monetarily to the state since 2000, $21,109,953.48 in volunteer service! Way to go DCRTA!!
Indiana State Legislature and Teacher Pensions
Throughout the past ten years there has been an active movement by state and national legislators to curtail the state pension support of retired teachers. These curtailments have included:
1) going strictly to a 401K program,
2) reducing pension amounts, and
3) eliminating the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
Because of the abuse of the Teachers Retirement Fund Indiana in the early years of the fund by state legislators and governors, the Teachers Retirement Fund became underfunded. In 1996 the Pension Stabilization Fund was created to keep the Fund solvent.
During the past three years however, more money has been going out of the Fund than going in. The state legislature has had to transfer funds from the General Fund to the TRF to meet pension needs. Although this action was verbally agreed to by the legislature in earlier year, it is an action that does not have to happen. The legislature could simply reduce the pension amount to keep it in the black. For this reimbursement action by the legislature, we can be grateful, but as most retirees will state, “The TRF’s going in the red should never have happened.”
The Indiana Retired Teachers Association
The Indiana Retired Teachers Association has been a steady advocate for the Indiana retired teachers over the years. Each year the IRTA Executive Director, the IRTA lobbyist, and the IRTA Legislative Committee meet with state legislators to discuss and debate the needs of retired teachers. The IRTA keeps a close eye on the development of hostile legislative actions and bring it to the forefront when legislators try to incorporate it into the small print of other bills.
In addition to being an advocate for the pensions of Indiana retired teachers, the IRTA offers a multitude of discounts and benefits for its membership. To take advantage of these benefits go online at <www.retiredteachers.org> and browse the benefit offered, speak with your DCRTA Membership Chair, or talk to your IRTA Benefits Representative listed in The Recess Bell.
The purpose and goals of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association can best be seen in the a short summary of the history of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association written in 1990 by Doris Dunn.
In December of 1950, Robert Wyatt, Executive Director of the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), called together four prominent retired teachers whose experience in work with ISTA through the years had been rich and productive. Called together were Clara Rathfon of Logansport, president of ISTA in 1932; Mattie Fry of Anderson, president of ISTA in 1930; Meredith Aldred of Fort Wayne who had been a member of the Executive Committee of ISTA for a number of years; and E.B. Wetherow of Indianapolis who had been Treasurer of ISTA for a number of years.
These five people met in the ISTA Offices in the Lincoln Hotel in Indianapolis and discussed the necessity and desirability of establishing and Indiana Retired Teachers Association. My Wyatt sketched a brief constitution for the organization setting forth its name, the Indiana Retired Teachers Association; its purpose: to advance the cause and welfare of retired teachers and education in general; the officers that should be elected, namely a President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Advisor and submitted it to the group. The group then proceeded to elect themselves to the five offices as follows:
Clara Rathfon, President;
Meredith Aldred, 1st Vice President;
Mattie Fry, 2nd Vice President;
E.B. Wetherow, Secretary-Treasurer; and
Robert Wyatt, Advisor.
Letters then went out to all retired teachers giving them the details of the organization and establishing dues of $1.00 per year. In a matter of weeks, IRTA had several thousand members in the organization with that amount of money in the treasury.
The first general meeting of the new organization was held in October 1951, with the speaker being Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, founder of the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
The Indiana Retired Teachers Association grew steadily during the next decade and the need grew for an executive director. In 1969, The Association hired Earl Utterback as its first executive director, and an office was set up in the ISTA Building. Mr. Utterback served ably in this position until his illness forced him to leave in 1972. Mr. Wyatt was appointed to serve as acting executive director in December of 1972 and then was elected in 1975 as the IRTA executive director.
The phenomenal growth in membership from 5 to 19,500 over the past forty years, and the successes of the past are the cornerstones for the next decade. As IRTA heads into the 21st century, the combined efforts of all Indiana retired teachers will keep the IRTA the most successful and effective retired organization in the country.
History research and written by Doris S. Dunn, Director of Operations
The IRTA has been an influential part of the workings of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association and DCRTA has been an influential part of the workings of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. The two Associations have greatly benefited each other. Dearborn County RTA had seventeen consecutive years of membership on the Executive Board of the IRTA – 2002-2019, in addition to the many years of committee service before 2002 and continuing still today. This participation helps to keep the leadership of DCRTA strong and influential.
For retired teachers to have a strong voice with the state legislature it is essential that both Associations remain strong. It is the hope of all the current and past leaders of the DCRTA that the new members of the DCRTA will continue to be active participants in DCRTA and IRTA. Our pensions and the pensions of future retirees depend upon it.
History researched and written by Dennis Bourquein, Past DCRTA President