On May 8, 1957, five retired teachers from Chattanooga-Hamilton County gathered in the Chattanooga Power Board conference room to discuss the "financial plight" of retired teachers in the state of Tennessee who were struggling with "ever-mounting cost of living" expenses and "pitifully low retirement benefits" ($50 was the maximum monthly allowance).
Forming a committee led by John B. Brown, they drafted an invitation to all retirees in Chattanooga-Hamilton County to assemble. In response, eighty retired teachers attended the next meeting, and the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Retired Teachers' Association was formed with Mr. Brown elected president. Their goal was to "serve as a champion" helping retired teachers to "achieve a fair degree of economic security in their sunset years."
Over the next few months, Mr. Brown assisted Blount County and McMinn County to organize, and believing it was time for a state-wide organization, sent delegates from these three charter associations to the meeting of the East Tennessee Education Association. This venture led to the establishment of the Tennessee Retired Teachers' Association on October 25, 1957, and to John B. Brown being referred to as "The Father of TRTA."
Later, on September 21, 1964, during Mr. Otto Prater's tenure as the third association president, TRTA was granted departmental status, becoming the fourth department of the TEA, known as the Department of Retired Teachers.
However, it wasn't until the fifth TRTA president, C.H. Moore, that the association really began to grow (after almost ten years, TRTA only had 750 members and 15 local associations). Seeing a way to address this need, Mr. Moore appointed R.R. Vance as Field Representative for TRTA and charged him with organizing teachers across the state.
Mr. Vance had been with the Department of Education for more than 31 years, mainly as Supervisor of High Schools, and had formed an extensive network of acquaintances, making him a perfect fit for the job. From April 1, 1966, through March 28, 1969, membership under his recruitment quickly grew to 61 associations and 3200 retired teachers.
Today, TRTA has over 7000 members across the state and continues to lobby and act as a watchdog for retired teachers' economic, professional, and social improvement.
***Information taken from R.R. Vance's History of the Tennessee Retired Teachers' Association, Bicentennial Edition. January 1976.