Mertice Ringer taught English, history, and reading at Chipola College. In life, she taught that a smile, a kind word or deed, and a few minutes of your time shared with someone is free. Mrs. Ringer met no strangers throughout her adult life, she befriended everyone.
Mertice Ringer graduated from Clanton High School in Alabama and wrote their alma mater. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree at Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi. She became as attached to Blue Mountain College as she did friends she met throughout her life. Long after leaving Blue Mountain College, her husband established the Mertice Baker Ringer Scholarship, something she was so very proud to have established to help others receive an education.
After her marriage to Dr. Robert E. Ringer, they had their only son Robert David Ringer, who was truly the light of his mom’s eyes. She could often be heard talking of the many visits he made to see them once he was married and living in Mississippi. Mrs. Ringer talked of her four grandchildren often, and took trips, including a trip to Europe with her granddaughter Amanda.
She taught at Chipola College from 1961 until 1992 when she retired. She touched countless lives during that time. Recently at her funeral services, Johnnie Mae (Gibson) Bright summed up Mrs. Ringer’s compassion briefly. Bright said she was a student of Mrs. Ringer’s at Chipola College, rode the bus from Caryville to Chipola. Bright was very clear that she and her brothers owed Mertice Ringer everything for their success in life. She told of an incident when she was in Mrs. Ringer’s class at Chipola and had on a very tattered green sweater. She said Mrs. Ringer asked to see her after class and she was a little nervous, certain she had not done anything wrong. After class, Mrs. Ringer said to her, “Johnnie that sweater is rather tattered.” Bright said she agreed but that was all she had. Not for long – soon she was ‘hired’ to do odd jobs at the Ringer home, saying somethings it was nothing more than washing a couple of cups. Bright said the money she made doing those jobs went far to help her and her family, but the advice and knowledge she gained through her friendship with the Ringers far surpassed any monetary gain.
Julie Shores had the pleasure of having Mrs. Ringer for English, not one but two semesters, for two different classes. She says, “I remember students walking in her class and she would say good morning to them and ask them how they were doing. Repeatedly, they would say they were doing good, to which Mrs. Ringer would reply, ‘No, you are not, you are doing well.’ By the end of the first couple of weeks of class, everyone knew the correct response. Forty plus years later, I still find myself mentally correcting someone when I hear them respond with I’m doing good. Mrs. Ringer was probably the most consistent teacher I ever had through high school and college. I can’t remember her wavering on anything for anyone. That was probably my favorite thing about her because she didn’t seem impressed by anyone’s status in the community.
We had several students who were children of professors at Chipola in the two classes I had with her and sometimes they would offer different excuses for why their assignments were not ready. I remember once someone told her that she could ask her dad ‘right down the hall’ and Mrs. Ringer told her, ‘But your dad isn’t in my class, you are and it’s your assignment that is due. So you see me after class and we will talk consequences.’ I don’t know what was said in that conversation but I feel pretty sure Mrs. Ringer didn’t budge because that student didn’t return to our class. That told me I was going to be just fine in there. And I didn’t get an A because her A’s were hard to come by, but I learned how to write, how to dissect a story, and that I was doing well.”
This writer never had Mrs. Ringer as a professor at Chipola when I was there but I was honored to have the privilege to take care of them in their later years, myself being a very seasoned adult at the time. I learned so much in those few years about loyalty, friendship, giving to those not as fortunate, to speak to everyone you meet, whether you know them or not, that a kind look, a kind word may be all someone needs that day. Mrs. Ringer truly never met a stranger, never met a person who wasn’t worthy of her help, and never had anything but kind words to say about anyone or anything.
She cherished her husband, and her friends, especially Josephine Story and Bob McLendon, told countless stories of their ventures through the years and years of their friendship. She talked daily of her grandchildren, saw them all in different lights, saw good in all of them, just as she did with everyone she met. She loved her ‘Red’ dog, often chided by her husband, that she’d choose Red over him if there was a choice to be made, and she would quickly respond, “You can take care of yourself,
Red needs me.” She loved her weekend visits her son David would make to Marianna, the Saturday night dinner at their home with his favorites being served, and she thought of David’s wife, not as his wife but as her daughter. She talked of the many things Susan had done for her through the years with a gleam in her eye that let you know she was indeed her daughter in her eyes.
Mrs. Ringer passed away July 7 this year and would have been 89 years old November 28. She and her husband would have celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary August 6, 2017.