Dora Hunter Spiva - one tough babe
Above – Dora in 1937 and now.
After my oldest son was born in 1975 I decided to pursue our family tree to hand down to him one day. Of course, now I am pursuing it to hand down to two sons.
By 1980 I learned that my g-g-g grandfather John Hunter (1775-1848) settled in the north Georgia mountains, near Blairsville, Union County, Ga., in 1834, and every year they have a Descendents of John Hunter Reunion. We went the Summer of 1980.
There, we met many distant cousins that I didn’t know existed… well, by then I knew some of them existed on paper, but to actually see them was a pleasure. Usually, around 200 Hunters come with their covered plates.
Arriving fashionably late was this tall long legged graceful lady that had a way of walking that made you think of a swan. She spotted me and walked over and introduced herself, as Dora Hunter Spiva. She married Daniel Spiva but he had died years ago. She taught school but was retired. She was graceful, she was flirty, she gave me her full undivided attention. While standing there she listened to every word of how we were related and maybe about an hour later she introduced me to another relative and recited our relationship perfectly. She had a very witty way about her and a very sharing way about her, when she talked to you she shut off everybody else around. She gave you her full attention, and she commanded the same.
When I got home I asked my neighbor Harold Killian if he knew Dora Hunter Spiva. He was born and grew up in Union County. He did, in fact Dora had taught him in several classes in high school.
Not that this has anything to do with the story, but while mentioning Harold Killian I should mention while doing my genealogy I discovered we were related on my mother’s side. My progenitor Nellie Malinda Killian Dyson ran off with her male neighbor, Henry Ridley and left her husband Solomon Dyer, they were both married, but evidently fell in love, and left their families for each other and moved to Murray County, Ga. Nellie and Harold’s ancestor were siblings.
For the next several years I attended the annual John Hunter Descendents Reunion, sometimes we all went and sometimes only one or both of my boys went. Each time I went Dora and I had a nice visit. She always remembered me.
Her student and my distant cousin and neighbor Harold Killian died the same day I had my heart attack.
Around Christmas time of this past year I read in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution that a scholarship fund was created at Truett McConnell College in nearby Cleveland, Ga., in Dora Hunter Spiva’s honor, on the same year she turned 100 years old.
She turned 100 years old February the 6th and is still going strong.
I had another neighbor also from Union County who recently moved. They are James and Brenda. The other night Brenda called about another matter and I asked her did she and James see the article about the scholarship in Dora’s honor, they hadn’t. But they both had her as their teacher.
Brenda was telling me on the phone that last year was James high school reunion and at 99 years old Dora was there, walking up saying the person’s name first, and reminding them of various bits of mischief of whatever they got themselves into in school.
Brenda said she made the comment to one of Dora’s nieces there that Dora was very sharp remembering each person like she did. The niece said don’t let her fool you, she has been studying the year book for that class for a week now reminding herself who each person was and reading her notes about each person.
I think that is still sharp – to have a system to utilize names like that.