XENIA — The winter quarter luncheon meeting of the Greene County Retired Teachers Association was held February 26 at the newly renamed Xenia United Presbyterian Church which is now a combined congregation of Memorial United Presbyterian and Westminster Presbyterian churches. The business meeting portion of the event included Member Recognition of Urcelle Carter Willis, a Necrology Service, and a speaker from the Ohio Retired Teachers’ Association.
Urcelle Carter Willis grew up on a dairy farm in Clinton County and graduated from Kingman High School, where she was Valedictorian, and where her father had been one of the Carter brothers of basketball fame in the same school district. Urcelle also sang in the choir, participated in school plays, and served as a teacher’s aide. Following high school, Urcelle headed to Wilmington College, where she was one of only ten minority students enrolled. She worked in the Registrar’s Office, pursued a degree in Business Education, and was able to graduate in three years as she went to summer school each year. Urcelle also belonged to Delta Kappa Gamma, a sorority of teachers in Greene, Clinton, and Warren counties, and has remained active in this group for 45 years. With all of her accomplishments, however, Wilmington High School refused her for her student teacher experience because she was a person of color. So Urcelle returned to Kingman High School for student teacher experience, where she was very well received. Urcelle then worked at Wright Patterson AFB for a year to earn enough money to attend Ohio State University for her Masters’ degree. At OSU, she worked for the OSU Department of Agriculture as a secretary while she earned her Masters’ degree, which is now required for all teachers before their teaching careers. Urcelle then left Ohio for Durham, North Carolina to teach Business Education to college students at North Carolina College for 4 years, returning then to Ohio to teach at Central State University where she helped set up the National Defense Loan Program in 1959, and became a Business Education Instructor. She met, taught in the same area with, and eventually married another professor at Central State, Herbert Willis. Urcelle spent 30 years working at Central State University, progressing on from Business Education Instructor to Assistant Professor, to Acting Dean, to today’s title of Professor Emeritus.
The late 60’s and the 70’s were a time of civil rights unrest the country. Urcelle related that only once did she have any trouble in the classroom during this strife. While she was teaching at Central State, two young men came into the classroom uninvited and told her what she was teaching was wrong. She left the room and went to the Dean’s Office. He told the young men to leave and they did. She continued her teaching as before. Since then, one of those boys has visited her in her retirement.
In 1993 Urcelle’s husband died. Some of his last words were, “Urcelle, keep on living.” She has done exactly that. She has been sought out by her previous students each year at CSU Homecoming times. She is a member of Altrusa, a club interested in literary programs, which also supports scholarships for college students, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and they give to the Greene Foundation. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha where she received the Golden Award and has now been a member for 60 years. She has maintained her membership at the Quinn Chapel in Wilmington; she has volunteered at Greene Memorial Hospital where she served as President and Treasurer of the volunteers; and she also belongs to Links. Urcelle Carter Willis’ life and style of living have made her a sought after and well respected member of our community and area.
After the luncheon, Sally Wallace conducted a Necrology Service for all members who have passed away in the last year. Lovely flower bouquets were presented to the many families who were there to receive them.
Jim Beaver, GCRTA Vice President, then introduced program speaker Robin Rayfield, Executive Director of Ohio Retired Teachers’ Association to speak about the current financial structure of our State Teachers’ Retirement System. Although the 30 year funding provision has now been reached, the COLA has not yet been reinstated. Mr. Rayfield shared the 2011 Ohio Revised Code 3307.67 order that “a 3% COLA shall be given annually.” Each year STRS OH takes in $3 billion from workers and employers but must pay out $700 billion to retirees. The $400 billion needed each year comes from investments coordinated by STRS employees.
The next Luncheon/Meeting of the Greene County Retired Teachers will be held on Wednesday May 27, 2020 at 11:30 AM at the newly renamed Xenia United Presbyterian Church, 343 Ankeney Rd. in Xenia. All retired Greene County educators are welcome to attend. Please contact Linda Sesslar, Membership Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.