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 Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, February 25, 2016, Page 19

By Mike Avitt

The Mount Ayr Record News of February 11, 2016 announced the Mount Ayr Community School's Hall of Fame inductees. They are: Dr. David McDaniel, Dr. Bruce and Michelle Ricker (both Class of 75!), Orr Fisher, and Ron Scott. I remember the last time I saw Mr. Scott. I was coming out of Jamie's Coffee Mill and Ron was just going in. He wasn't just a great coach and teacher, he was a great man.

Now I get to put on my "old timers committee" hat and point out some folks who we might not know.

Etta Rider was the daughter of Dr. and Mr. Robert Rider and was born in 1859 in Illinois. After teaching at Mount Ayr High School in the 1890s, she was elected Ringgold County Superintendent of Schools in 1909 and served until 1915. Miss Rider then returned to teaching at Mount Ayr until 1932. She was involved with many groups and organizations that sought to benefit the community.

Transcriber's Note: Etta was born Nov. 18, 1859, and died July 24, 1957. She was interred at Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr.

Floy Reed Bliss was born in Illinois in 1885 and graduated from Mount Ayr High School in 1902. Floy taught school after graduating and then attended Simpson College, graduating in 1910. She served as principal of Mount Ayr High School after college and married John Bliss in [June 15] 1916. Mrs. Bliss resumed teaching in 1923 and continued in this capacity until 1955. She, too, was involved in many benevolent organizations over the years.

Transcriber's Note: Floy Aileen (Reed) Bliss was born January 1, 1885 at Mount Ayr, and died at the age of 89 years on January 28, 1974. She was interred at Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr.

Dr. Charles Lawhead was born to Dr. Carlton (a dentist) and Ferrah Lawhead in Mount Ayr in [July 13] 1920 and graduated from Mount Ayr High School in 1938. He served in the U. S. Army during World War II and returned to Mount Ayr in 1946 to begin his career in dentistry with his father, Dr. Carlton Lawhead. Charles had a tremendous love of God, country, church, school, music, sports, and family. The activities and organizations he was involved in are too numerous to mention. Dr. Lawhead was joined by his son Dr. Collus Lawhead, in his dental practice in the mid-1970s. Another son, Carlin, also became a dentist.

Transcriber's Note: Dr. Lawhead died on March 13, 2008. Interment was made at Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr.

X. T. Prentis graduated from Mount Ayr High School in 1917 and served in the army during World War I. He married Gladys Tennant in 1919 and they had four children. X. T. started Prentis Hatchery in 1924 and by 1928 he had hatcheries in Leon and Bedford. Mr. Prentis later became a member of the Iowa House of Representatives, a State Senator, and held numerous positions in poultry associations. Improving Ringgold County highways was of particular concern to X. T. Prentis.

Transcriber's Note: X. T. [Xavier Thomas] Prentis died at the age of 82 years on October 9, 1978. He was interred at Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr.

Dr. Gerald Leiser Downie graduated from Mount Ayr High School in 1922. He attended college at Simpson and then the University of Iowa followed by Northwestern. He married Maurine Hurtz in 1933 and they had three children. Dr. Downie served as a Methodist Missionary in China for twenty years, erecting a hospital there. He then served two years in India and briefly in other countries before returning to the states and settling in Illinois.

Transcriber's Note: Dr. Downie was born in Mount Ayr on July 1903, and died on November 7, 2000 at Provena Heritage Village, Kankakee, Illinois. He was interred at Mound Grove Gardens Cemetery.

You know, folks, this list is endless. I hope that hall is really big because we could easily fill any large hall.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2016

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, March 02, 2017
Page 9

By Mike Avitt

The 2017 inductees into the Mount Ayr Community School Hall of Fame were announced in the February 9 Record-News. Maurice Carr, Dr. Lori (SIckels) Friedman, Ron Landphair, and the 1988 girls track team, who won the state championship, will be inducted next fall during homecoming.

l always pretend I'm on the "old-timers committee" at this time of the year and look at some folks who lived so long ago they are forgotten or not known and might not ever be considered for the hall.

Lora (Laughlin) Richardson was Mount Ayr High School's first graduate in 1884. She was the only graduate that year and was later the first woman selected as Ringgold County Superintendent of Schools. I was unable to find her obituary but she died in 1939 and is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Mount Ayr. Lora's father was the well-known judge and attorney, W. T. Laughlin.

Randolph Beall attended Mount Ayr schools but didn't graduate because he finished school before the high school was established. He was born in 1864 and I consider Mr. Beall to be Ringgold County's first historian. He published the Twice-A-Week News (1892 - 1899) and the Ringgold County Bulletin (1938 - 1944?) as well as being a charter member of the Ringgold County Historical Society (1939). Along with George "Gum" Kirby, he started the Ringgold County Old-Timers Reunion in 1937.

Transcriber's note: Randolph S. Beall died June 2, 1946. Interment was made in Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr, Iowa.

Willis Ray Willey was born in 1884 and also didn't graduate but played high school football for Mount Ayr as late as 1902. Mr. Willey would later be known as Willie Willey and achieved great fame in Spokane, Washington as a folk hero (or a public nuisance, depending on your point of view). Two of the titles he earned there were "Wild Man of Spokane" and the "Ambassador of Good Will." Keith Yates wrote a book about Willie Willey and it can be found at the Mount Ayr Public Library. Willie was an uncle to Gerold Willey of Mount Ayr.

Transcriber's note: Willis Ray "Willie" Willey did in 1956 and was interred in Fairmount Cemetery, Spokane, Washington.


  Henry Clay Beard graduated from Mount Ayr High School in 1894 and became a lawyer, publisher, and Mayor of Mount Ayr. After the Twice-A-Week News merged with the Ringgold Record in 1907, Mr. Beard bought the old printing press from Walter Beall and started a newspaper called The Twice-A-Week Press. The paper lasted five years before H. C. Beard went back into law practice.

Transcriber's note: Henry Clay Beard was born July 22, 1877 and died December 30, 1947. He was interred in Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr, Iowa.

Stanton Edwin Tennant was another newspaper man. He graduated from Mount Ayr in 1909 and was in the newspaper business before he graduated working first at the Twice-A-Week News and then the Record-News. He worked at newspapers in Grundy Center and Marble Rock before moving to Colfax in 1920. There, he and his wife published the Colfax Tribune for over forty years. He later served as State Superintendent of Printing for seven years.

Oh, the history books are filled with names like these. Except for Willie Willey.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2017

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