Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A tribute to Dora Hunter Allison Spiva

Dora Hunter Allison Spiva

All who know her admire her beauty, graciousness, vitality and personable nature.

It is hard to believe she reached the milestone of 103 years of age on February 10, 2008. Her bearing and interest in life, her surroundings and all the people she meets are still very important to her and are characteristic of one much younger. Many people helped her celebrate her 103rd birthday to thank her for her positive influence on their lives and wish her health and happiness. What a lady is Mrs. Dora Hunter Allison Spiva, teacher extraordinary.

What a span of living occurs in 103 years of life. When she was born Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States. She has lived through the administrations of a total of eighteen presidents: T. Roosevelt, William Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William Clinton, and George W. Bush.

In the year of her birth, her parents, Martha Souther Hunter and James Hunter, could send out an announcement of their new daughter's birth by attaching a two-cent stamp to a letter.

In 1905, the federal spending was 57 billion dollars. Think how the national economy (and indebtedness) has grown in her 103 years of living!

The population in the United States in 1905 was 83,822,000. She has observed the population growth over the years to billions.

Not that the little baby from Choestoe could go to New York City and take a ride on a train to Chicago that would take 18 hours for the journey between the country's two major cities, but if she had been offered that privilege in 1905, she would have seen the first train equipped with electric lights. The nearest train to the Hunter farm home in 1905 was met at Culberson or Murphy, NC, at Blue Ridge or Gainesville, Georgia. Her father would take products across the Logan Turnpike on Tesnatee Gap to market in Gainesville in a covered wagon.

In scientific advancements the year she was born, Albert Einstein proposed the theory of relativity. The Nobel Prize in medicine was won by a German doctor, Robert Koch, whose work on alleviating tuberculosis earned the award.

Dora had two brothers born after her, Joseph in 1906 and Daniel in 1908. Dora was the first child of her father, James Hunter. But her mother had been married previously to James's brother Jasper F. Hunter who died in 1897. Dora's half-siblings were John Ester (1884), William Jesse (1886), Nancy (1888-1897), James Hayes (1890), Homer (1892), Hattie (1894), and Grady (1895). Jasper F. "Todd" Hunter died in 1897 with typhoid fever. The year 1987 was a sad one for Martha Souther Hunter. Her first husband died in May and her daughter Nancy died in June. Her living children in 1897 numbered six and ranged in age from thirteen to two. She had the task of working the farm and making a living for herself and the children. All had jobs to do. In 1904, she married her first husband's brother, James. Then sadness struck again on April 3, 1912, when Martha's husband James died. Dora was 7, Joe was 6, and Dan was 4 when their father died. Life was not easy on the Hunter farm on Town Creek, but somehow Martha had a will to survive and see her children grown and educated. Martha Souther Hunter died December 11, 1937. All her life, Dora has appreciated her heritage. One of the highlights of her year is the reunion that honors her legacy and pays tribute to hardy ancestors.

Teaching was the chosen career of Dora Hunter Allison Spiva. Well-beloved by her students, she taught both by precept and example. Mathematics was her field of expertise, but she also served as a principal of a country school and as a counselor in high school.

Much has been written of teachers and their influence. I close this tribute by quoting some that fit Mrs. Dora and her memorable style of teaching. And all we who had the privilege of sitting under her tutelage stand up and call her blessed.

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." - Henry Adams, 1907.

"Teachers provide a social and intellectual environment in which students can learn." - James MacGregor Burns, 1978.

"A teacher's major contribution may pop out anonymously in the life of some ex-student's grandchild." - Wendell Berry, 1990.

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein (1879- 1955).

"Teachers open the door, but you must enter it by yourself." - Chinese saying.

At Truett McConnell College, Mrs. Dora is honored in the naming of the Dora Hunter Allison Spiva School of Education. There the Bachelor of Science in Education degree will be offered for the first time in May, 2008 with the first graduates from the school. In future, many will study there and go forth to teach, a living tribute to a masterful teacher. That school of education is new and struggling. Why not honor Mrs. Dora's birthday by sending your contribution designated for the School of Education? The address is Truett McConnell College 100 Alumni Drive, Cleveland, GA 30528.

Thank you, Mrs. Dora, for your teaching and your far reaching influence. Happy Birthday!

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Feb. 14, 2008 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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