You often hear, “Give a lady flowers while she lives,” and that’s exactly what I want to do with this salute, a bouquet of appreciation. I would like to call this a salvo, a simultaneous firing of guns in appreciation for service rendered. The only trouble, I don’t have a firing squad to do the honors. So count this a double-barreled accolade to one who is deserving of our thanks and commendations.
I speak of a beautiful lady, Mrs. Dora Hunter Allison Spiva. Time was when she did not like to admit her age (After all, isn’t that a prerogative of the female gender?). But then she surpassed that promised “three-score and ten” and kept going, four score plus ten, and more! And now, I think it pleases this stately, well-coiffed, well-groomed beautiful lady to hear people comment: “I can’t believe you’re 99, going on 100!” Her looks, alertness, demeanor and involvement are trademarks of one much younger.
Dora Anne Hunter was born February 10, 1905, daughter of James A. Hunter and Martha Lucinda Souther Hunter. She was the older sister of brothers Joe and Dan, and they had half-siblings. Their mother, Martha Lucinda Souther Hunter was married first to Jasper Todd Hunter, a brother to her second husband, Jim. Martha’s first children were J. Esther, William Jesse, Nancy, James Hayes, Homer, Hattie and Grady. The family was reared at the Hunter home, still standing just off the Liberty Church Road, Choestoe.
Dora Anne was educated in the public schools, Choestoe and Old Liberty, and then went to the Academy and Young Harris College where she got a good secondary and two-year college education. Taking what was known as the “Normal Course” for teachers, Miss Hunter, upon graduation, began teaching at the Blairsville Collegiate Institute, a school in her home county that was founded the year prior to her birth, 1904. Her selection as a teacher there speaks well of her acumen as a student. One might say she was a “born teacher.”
The school year 1928-1929 was the last the Collegiate Institute functioned before the Home Mission Board and Notla River Baptist Association released the property and buildings to the Union County Board of Education for a public high school. Dr. J. M. Nicholson became the first principal and Miss Dora Hunter was one of the teachers in the new county high school. She was to continue in a long career of teaching mathematics at Union County High School, touching many lives with her teaching, counseling and example.
She retired in May, 1970 after 40 years as a teacher, 30 of which were in Union County. She also served for a period as principal of Young Cane School. She was a graduate of Young Harris College and the University of Georgia.
On August 28, 1930, Dora Anne Hunter married Frank N. Allison. He was elected to the office of Ordinary for Union County and held that position for several years. He died February 23, 1969. Mrs. Allison’s second marriage was to Daniel G. Spiva. He died January 8, 1985. Both of her husbands were interred in Choestoe Baptist Church Cemetery.
Mrs. Spiva has served in many capacities at Choestoe Baptist Church where she has been a member since childhood. She helped to organize Woman’s Missionary Union and has been a firm supporter and participant in missions for 75 years. She taught Sunday School. She served as Sunday School Superintendent. She has held offices in Notla River Baptist Association and on the Executive Board of Georgia Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union.
In civic organizations her leadership has been especially noteworthy in the Blairsville Garden Club of which she was a charter member and of the Union County Retired Teachers’ Association. In both organizations she has served as president and in other offices.
Truett McConnell College, Cleveland, Georgia has recently announced plans to name the four-year program in education to honor educator Dora Hunter Allison Spiva.
Former students who remember the unique influence of this teacher upon their lives will no doubt want to make contributions in her honor to Truett McConnell’s School of Education. For further information about this campaign, please contact Vice President of Institutional Development, 100 Alumni Drive, Cleveland, GA. 30528. An administrator of the college may be reached at 706-865 -2134, Ext. 119.
For those many of us who love and appreciate our teacher, may we give in a substantive manner so that future generations may benefit from an outstanding department of education named for an extraordinary educator.
When Truett McConnell was founded in 1946 and opened its doors to students in the fall of 1947, Mrs. Allison gave support to the fledgling college as her pastor then, the Rev. Claud C. Boynton, served as one of the founders and first trustees. Now Truett McConnell is gradually progressing from a two-year to a four-year college. Congratulations, Mrs. Spiva, on the signal honor of having a college department named for you. We who remember those hard math lessons and how you guided us through them will be adding this to all the accolades with which we honor you.
c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 6, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.