Troy University alumna Geraldine Grimes Boothe of Opp taught in the classrooms of rural Covington County for almost 45 years, inspiring countless thousands of students and serving as a role model for her peers. Mrs. Boothe, the mother of TROY alumnus and District 89 State Rep. Alan Boothe, passed away April 18, 2017.
Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr., said Mrs. Boothe’s life and career reflected well upon her alma mater, but it also underscored the historic mission of Troy University.
“Although TROY is now a comprehensive university, our roots are in teacher education,” Chancellor Hawkins said. “For decades our main mission was to train men and women to return to the cities and towns of Alabama to lead and inspire their students. Few did it better than Geraldine Boothe. She was a remarkable lady and in many ways her story is our story at TROY.”
“Mrs. Boothe embodied the words written in the Book of Matthew: ‘For I came not to be served, but to serve,’” Dr. Hawkins added.
Born Jan. 8, 1924 in the rural Rose Hill Community of Covington County, Mrs. Boothe once said she owed her work ethic to her early days on the farm. Like so many young women of her era, after she graduated from Straughn High School in 1942 she opted for marriage and family over a career. She and her husband, J.C., had two sons, Alan and Gene.
Mrs. Boothe decided the classroom was her calling, and enrolled in the elementary education program at then-Troy State Teachers College in the early 1950s, often bringing her children to campus with her.
“I remember playing on the TROY campus while my mother was taking her summer quarter classes,” Alan Boothe said. “Those are wonderful memories. She loved Troy University and she loved Opp, Alabama, more than anyone I have ever known.”
Because of her love for Troy University and her love of her hometown church, Mrs. Boothe requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Troy University Foundation or the First Baptist Church of Opp, where she taught Sunday school.
Following her graduation from TROY in 1957, Mrs. Boothe embarked on a teaching career that spanned 44 years and nine months, including 41 years at Fleeta School, where in addition to teaching second grade, she coached both the cheerleading squad and the basketball team. She was chosen Covington County Teacher of the Year for 1987.
Mrs. Boothe retired from the classroom in 1991, but remained active in the community. She was a member of the Mizell Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the Three Arts Club, the Order of the Eastern Star, Delta Kappa Gamma and the Opp Cultural Arts Center. In 2016, she was inducted in the Opp Hall of Fame.
Former Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Seth Hammett of Andalusia, who represented Covington County from 1978-2010, praised Mrs. Boothe for the impact she had on her community.
“We all hope to have a long, fulfilling life and Geraldine Boothe was a great example of a life well lived,” Hammett said. “She was a dedicated teacher who shaped the lives of countless students during her 41 years as an educator. People truly liked to be in her presence and that presence will be sorely missed by her family, her community and those who were touched by her life.”