Submitted By Buster Barton

Mary Morgan Elementary School Principal

If you have entered Mary Morgan Elementary School, you have undoubtedly seen the portrait of our namesake, Miss Mary Morgan, proudly displayed in our entryway. Mary Morgan was an educator for an amazing 56 years! She worked in the Byron School District for the last 42 years of her career before retiring in 1965. Upon her retirement, she was presented with the portrait that hangs in our entryway from the local PTA as a gift for her services. The City of Byron even held a “Mary Morgan Day” to help celebrate her contributions to the students of our community. A few years later, the school was named after her. While most may not know much about her, there is one who keeps her spirit alive year after year – a previous student of hers, Ms. Nellene Jeter.

Ms. Jeter was a student of Mary Morgan’s in the early 1940s, and for the last 22 years when the school year starts, she brings in and shares memorabilia of her previous teacher, helping to show what she meant to her and to hundreds of others. The memorabilia is staged in two glass display cases and includes previous activities, writings, pictures, articles from the paper, and many other items regarding Miss Morgan.

When asked what made Miss Morgan such a special teacher, Ms. Jeter stated, “She was very caring but very direct in her style of communication. There were never any problems in her classroom. Very seldom did she ever raise her voice. She just had a way about her – when she spoke, we listened.”

On top of bringing Miss Morgan to life every year for others to remember, Ms. Jeter also uses our entryway display cases to highlight the extraordinary efforts of current and past Byron High School graduates, as well as district staff.

In addition to her work in our building, Ms. Jeter has used her many talents and passion for keeping our past alive by serving on the Byron Museum Board and on the Byron School District Hall of Fame Committee. Her efforts do not end there, however. In fact, her contributions can be found all throughout our city and even the county.

At our local City Hall, her efforts have been immense. On the second floor, she put together a complete display on Hall of Fame Baseball player and founder of Spalding sports equipment Albert Spalding, along with other significant local sports memorabilia. Also, near the Spalding room visitors can see a timeline and display of all the Byron Mayors who have served our city, from its inception to current mayor, Mr. Chris Millard. “Her work has been unbelievable,” Millard stated. “When collecting information on previous mayors, she has had to literally search for and find previous family members, many living very far away, in order to get pictures and information. I was amazed she was able to get them all.”

In addition to her work at City Hall, every Tuesday Ms. Jeter spends her time at our Byron Public Library organizing local historical documents to be preserved in several file cabinets. Recently retired but longtime library employee, Marla McCoy, has worked beside Ms. Jeter on several occasions. “It is amazing all of the information she has. We have had several people from out of state contact the Byron Library looking for information on family members and family history, and we frequently put them in contact with Ms. Jeter. On several occasions she has helped people find a family connection to people in our area.”

During the month of June, Ms. Jeter also conducted “local historian hours” at the public library to assist community members with several projects and researching family history.

Ms. Jeter spends every Wednesday volunteering at the Byron Fire Department. For the past several months, she has been compiling binders that include pictures and articles on the history of the Byron Fire Department. On top of that, she has created a display recognizing all of Byron’s Fire Chiefs. It has the name and picture of every individual, past and present, to ever serve as chief of the Byron Fire Department. Current Byron Fire Chief Galen Bennett stated, “We are proud to have Ms. Jeter working with us to help keep our department’s history alive. She truly has a wealth of knowledge, and I frequently ask her questions on our community’s past.”

Shortly after completing the display of Byron’s fire chiefs, she came into contact with Stillman Valley’s fire chief, Mr. Chad Hoefle, and they began planning a similar exhibit in their fire department, which is now on display. “There couldn’t have been a better lady to do this project for us,” Hoefle stated. “Ms. Jeter spent hours speaking with local community members and researching the history of our fire department. She loves working for our communities.”

Thank you, Ms. Jeter, for helping us all keep the spirit of Mary Morgan alive, and for the great many contributions you make on behalf of our community.

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Ms. Jeter standing near Mary Morgan’s portrait and school display cases.

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