Robert Ellis Ringer was born in Fort Payne, Alabama, to Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Ringer on August 30, 1928. When he was a child, the family moved to nearby Valley Head, Alabama, and he graduated from Valley Head High School and then earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Jacksonville State Normal College, now Jacksonville State University. Mertice Baker Ringer was born in Clanton, Alabama on November 23, 1928, to Mr. and Mrs. Lee Andrew Baker. Before graduating from Clanton High School, she discovered it had no alma mater, so she wrote one. She then completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi.
While a student at Blue Mountain, Mertice worked at a summer camp in Sand Mountain, Alabama, where she was introduced to Robert, who was home from school for the summer. They began dating that summer and continued to correspond when they returned to school. When Robert graduated, he began to serve in the United States Army as the Korean War began. Before he deployed to Korea, Robert went to Clanton to ask Mr. Baker for Mertice’s hand in marriage. With Mr. Baker’s blessing, he traveled to Mississippi to visit Mertice. He proposed to her, and she initially declined because she intended to graduate from college before she married. He pointed out that he was about to deploy to Korea and that if they married before he deployed, he would be able to help her pay expenses at Blue Mountain. Mertice saw the logic in this. They went to the Jackson County, Mississippi, courthouse and obtained a marriage license. On Sunday morning, August 6, 1950, they went to a Baptist church in Jackson County before services began. They were married in the office of the minister. Then they went into the sanctuary of the church and attended services.
Robert served in Korea with the 151st Combat Engineering Batallion as a Supply Sargent from 1950-1951. While in Korea, he was involved primarily with the construction of bridges needed by American troops to cross inland waterways. One night on patrol, Robert prayed that he would be able to return home, to see his wife, and to become the father of a son. Mertice continued her studies at Blue Mountain so she could pursue a career in education. Robert was given his orders to return home on Christmas Day of 1951. Mertice and Robert moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Robert was employed by Filtrol Chemical Company. On December 29, 1952, they welcomed their only child, Robert David Ringer, called “David” by the family. Robert began a Master of Education program at nearby Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, and Mertice soon joined the program as well. Upon their graduations, they were both employed at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Mississippi, where Robert taught chemistry and Mertice taught English and history courses. The family then moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where Robert worked on a Doctorate of Education from the University of Mississippi. Robert and Mertice were then both hired by Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida, where they both worked until their retirement. During this time, they became an integral part of the Marianna and Chipola communities. They were members of the First United Methodist Church, where both served on many committiees, including Mertice’s serving as Chairman of the Board during the building campaign that created the Wesley Center. She was also actively involved in the United Methodist Women and taught Sunday School. During their tenure at Chipola, both touched the lives of countless students. Mertice worked in the English department and helped to develop programs to help students with reading and writing and sponsored student publications. Robert taught in the Natural Science department, mainly focusing on Chemistry. His teaching helped many students go on to careers in pharmacy and medicine, among other fields. He served as Chairman of the Natural Sciences Department, and he was named Professor of the Year in 1967.
Mertice and Robert were grandparents to four beloved grandchildren with whom they spent time almost every school holiday. “Granny Mert” and “Grandpa Budro”, as they were known, took time to make each of their grandchildren feel special. During summer holidays, they would spend time with all four at once, and then took time to take the children on individual trips, sharing priceless memories with each one. Their extended family also included friends Josephine Story and Robert McReynolds, whom they saw on a near-daily basis. The Ringers spent their final years in Mississippi to be close to their son, David. Mertice passed from this life on July 7, 2017, and Robert on July 25, 2017, just weeks shy of what would have been their 67th wedding anniversary.
The Ringers are preceded in death by their parents, by Mrs. Ringer’s brothers, Mr. Lewis Baker and Mr. Gene Baker, and by Dr. Ringer’s sister, Mrs. Joyce Ringer Allen. They are survived by Dr. Ringer’s brother, Mr. R.E. Ringer of Valley Head, Alabama, their son, Mr. Robert David Ringer and daughter-in-law Mrs. Susan Spencer Ringer of Florence, Mississippi; grandchildren Dr. Amanda Ringer, J.D., of Huntsville, Alabama; Dr. Ashley Ringer McDonald, Ph.D. (Robert) of San Luis Obispo, California; Mr. Spencer Ringer of Brandon, Mississippi; and Mrs. Laura Ringer Holland (Wesley) of San Diego, California; one great-grandchild, Spencer Ringer-Alday, Dr. Ringer’s niece, Sara Allen Schmitt, Mrs. Ringer’s nieces, Connie Baker Robinson, Patti Baker Smith, and Stephie Baker Johnson, and friends Miss Josephine Story and Mr. Robert D. McReynolds, of Marianna, Florida, numerous cousins, and countless students and friends.
A memorial service will be held at the Waterford Activity Center in Ridgeland, Mississippi, on Thursday, July 27, at 3:15 p.m. Visitation will be on Saturday, July 29, at 10:00 a.m., at the First United Methodist Church of Marianna, Florida, with memorial service to follow beginning at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Mertice Baker Ringer Scholarship, Blue Mountain College, P.O. Box 160, Blue Mountain, Mississippi, 38610 and to the Dr. Robert Ringer Science Scholarship, Chipola College Foundation, 3094 Indian Circle, Marianna, Florida, 32446.