In 1957, Dr. W.C. Petty, long-time Lake County
Superintendent of Schools, invited a number of retired teachers to meet as
his guests at the Karcher Hotel in Waukegan to discuss the formation of a
Lake County Retired Teachers Association. Twenty-eight retirees attended
this first meeting, and Roy Hurd was elected president. He served in this
office for ten years.
From the beginning, Lake County has held monthly
luncheon meetings, one of only three units in the state to do so. Most
meetings were held at the Karcher Hotel, primarily because most of the
members during these early years were retirees from the Waukegan schools. In
the mid 1970s, the meetings were moved to the Northern Chalet in
Libertyville. The owners there adopted the group as one of their charitable
projects and served us a complete plated lunch for $5.00 per! We continued
to meet there until the place was sold and demolished.
Until 1988, Dr. Petty, and his successor William
Thompson, invited all retirees, members and non-members alike, to luncheon
at the Swedish Glee Club in Waukegan for the May and October meetings. Often
350 to 400 people attended, and the cost was paid from annual certificate
registration fees. In addition, the Superintendent’s office provided
stationery and postage for membership mailings during these years. Early on,
the purpose of the Association was essentially social. Health insurance and
pension funding issues were not yet on the front burners, although they were
beginning to appear as issues on the horizon.
In the early 1980s, under the leadership of Ruth
Pester, LCRTA was revitalized and refocused. Membership, legislation, and
health insurance became important functioning committees. Local members
attended the state convention, and many were appointed to statewide
committees. Roman Miller was elected president of IRTA in 1994, the first
person from the northern part of the state elected to statewide office since
the first president in 1955, Marjorie Cook.
Membership records were kept in a card file and
ledger for many years by treasurer Milt Davis. In 1982, the Waukegan Public
Schools volunteered the use of their computer, and also agreed to program a
data file, and prepare membership and mailing materials for the Association.
By 1987, LCRTA was able to purchase its own computer and provide a volunteer
to run it. During the 1970s and 1980s, membership steadied at about 500.
Currently, paid memberships in the county unit are approaching 2000.
As the membership increased through the years, it
became apparent that two of our major functions in such a large organization
had to be the dissemination of information and the reaching out to members
to encourage their involvement. We have published a newsletter in May and
October for many years, and are now distributing additional information
sheets almost monthly. In 1995, under the leadership of Wil Hemeyer, the
county was divided into four sections so that smaller groups could get
together in a more intimate setting three or four times a year for
discussions and socializing. A fifth such group was added in 2004. In the
last several years we have developed a website, and are currently working to
improve it. We take pride in the fact that we have a luncheon meeting every
month with outstanding educational and entertaining programs each time.
The Lake County Retired Teachers Association is a
dynamic group dedicated exclusively to the interests and concerns of retired
educators in the County of Lake and the State of Illinois.