Updated January 2021




The Ripley County Retired Teachers Association (RCRTA), like most organizations this year, has had an unusual year for its meetings and activities.   All three of its general meetings, as well as its state activities, were cancelled for the year.  It’s most important state meeting, the annual Indiana Retired Teachers Association Representative Assembly, was among the cancelled events.  At this meeting, recognition and awards to local association members are a special part of the Assembly.  Although the event did not take place, several Ripley County retired teachers were notified of their recognition.   These recognitions will be hopefully awarded at the local Association meetings in the spring of 2021. Some will be mailed to the recipients. 


Jerry Wilson, a retired South Ripley teacher, was recognized for his outstanding volunteer service.  He had accumulated over 1500 hours of volunteer service serving in such areas as the Lions’ Club, Mainstreet Versailles, Historical Society, Farmers’ Market, Falls of the Ohio, and many others.   Also recognized for honorable recognition in volunteer service were RCRTA members (1) Donna Harrelson, Batesville, (2) Sharon Martin, South Ripley, and (3) Mary Weber, Franklin County High School.


Ripley County Retired Teachers had a total of 30,819 hours of volunteer service in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.  This placed RCRTA in fourth place among all Indiana counties for volunteer service.  


Mark Guard, a retired South Ripley teacher, was installed as the Area 10 Director for the Indiana Retired Teachers Association.  This installation, like the recognitions, would have been held at the IRTA Representative Assembly in June.  Mark had been an elementary educator for 28˝  years in the South Ripley School Corporation.  While an educator, Mark also served as an education advocate on the District Council for the Indiana State Teachers Association for seven years. 


 Guard will work with the local associations in the Area 10 to better their organizations and coordinate events between the state and their local association.  Area 10 has nine local associations. Directors serve a two-year term for the state with the option of an additional two-year extension.  Ripley County is proud to have one of its retired teachers as a state Area Director.


Nancy Durham, a retired South Ripley teacher, was notified by the state association that she was the recipient of the School Bell Award which is given for enrolling the most new state members for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.  For this award she will receive an engraved school bell and a three-day-two-night stay in any Midwest city with expenses paid.  RCRTA is very proud of Nancy!


Although the general activities of the Ripley County Retired Teachers have been postponed, the work of the Association continues.  The leadership of the Association would like to remind its membership that support of the local food pantries is the association’s project for 2020-2021.  Food products can be individually dropped off at the local pantries or left at the home of Sue Bunselmeier (244 Sycamore Street, Osgood, IN 47037). Monetary donations, earmarked for the food pantries, can also be sent to Sue.


The Ripley County Retired Teachers Association has over ninety active members and holds three social meetings (April, July, and October) each year.  Membership is open to retired teachers from any state, living or having taught in Ripley County, spouses, active teachers, and friends of educators.  RCRTA is hoping that next year the Covid-19 pandemic will be under control and it can once again gather and socialize with one another.






The RCRTA's community service project for 2019 will be Operation Christmas Child.  Vonda Miller came to our April meeting and talked to us about this project.  We will be collecting items for the shoeboxes at our July and October meetings. Boxes will be there for the items collected.  We will also be collecting a free will offering at both of these meetings that will be used to buy additional items and help pay the postage for our boxes.  You may bring your items to the meetings, make a free will donation, or if you would like, fill a shoebox of your own. I have purchased boxes and will bring them to the July meeting. Boxes made and brought to the meetings need to be labeled for Girl or Boy and ages 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14.   Before school starts is always a good time to get school supplies super cheap.  Dollar Tree also is a good place to shop for items.  If you are uncertain about what item to include a complete list can be found on the Internet at Samaritan's Purse/ Operation Christmas Child.

 Do Not include the following in your shoeboxes:  Candy, toothpaste, gum, used or damaged items, war related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures, chocolate or food, seeds, fruit rolls, or other fruit snacks, drink mixes (powdered or liquid), medications or vitamins, breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers, aerosol cans.


Senator Jean Leising surprised Immediate Past President Dennis Bourquein with the state Circles of Corydon award recently at the Indiana Retired Teachers' Representative Assembly in Indianapolis. Bourquein was honored for his twelve years on the IRTA Board, most recently as the Immediate Past President.

Bourquein began as the local Dearborn County Retired Teacher Vice-President under DCRTA President Charles Workman. He then served as DCRTA President for six years. As IRTA's Area 8 Director, he also served on the state Public Relations Committee. As Area Director he re-established the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association which had been inactive for several years. Nominated to become the Secretary-Treasurer of IRTA, he served on the Membership Committee. As President-Elect he served on the Legislative Committee. He was the President of the Indiana Retired Teachers 2015-2017. For the past two years, Dennis has continued on the Board as the Immediate Past President. He will serve as consultant at the up-coming Executive Committee Retreat.  As a member of the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association, Dennis serves as the Public Relations Chair overseeing the RCRTA newsletter, news releases, and website.




Bonnie Wall taught in the Jac-Cen-Del School Corporation for 37 years.  During that time, she taught 4th grade, Special Education at all levels (K-12) and worked in many inclusion classrooms.


Bonnie first learned about CASA when teaching. After retirement, she began the training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children. She has worked with eleven children.  Bonnie’s goal regarding CASA is that no matter what daunting situation children find themselves in, they will know their CASA will be there to help them maneuver through it and be their voice when it needs to be heard.





Several members of the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association were honored for their service to their communities in Ripley County at the Indiana Retired Teachers Association Representative Assembly          .  Receiving an Outstanding Volunteer Award was Jerry Wilson.


Jerry volunteered 2105 hours in 2018, 50 hours being with youth. Jerry’s volunteer hours included work through the Lions Club, Relay for Life, Mainstreet Versailles, Ripley County Bicentennial Committee, Indiana Historical Society, DNR, and many others.  Congratulations, Jerry.


Receiving Honorable Mention Volunteer Awards were Donna Harrelson, Sharon Martin, and Mary Weber.  Congratulations to all of these individuals and “Thank you” for your service to Ripley County.








Barbara Dunker, a former Milan guidance counselor, was honored by the RCRTA.  Andrea Westerfeld presented Dunker a certificate of appreciation.  Dunker then spoke about her teaching experiences in many different schools and many different grade levels before becoming a counselor and retiring from Milan High School.





Ripley County Retired Teachers Association returned home from the Indiana Retired Teachers Association’s Representative Assembly on June 13, 2018, proud of the honor their local received.  Lois Luken, RCRTA Public Relation’s chair received honor for Outstanding News Releases and Outstanding Newsletter.  Dennis Bourquein, RCRTA Webmaster, received Outstanding Website recognition.  Ripley County was one or two counties receiving outstanding recognition in all three Public Relations areas.




                                                ELLEN MULFORD TO SERVE ON STATE FOUNDATION                                                                                                      


Ellen Mulford was requested by IRTA President, Jane Boultinghouse, this year to become a member of the Indiana Retired Teachers Foundation Board of Directors. Ellen accepted this position and is now serving as Treasurer of the Foundation.  The Board is composed of five voting members and two ex-officio members. It is a great honor for Ripley County to have a member serving of this Board.  We wish her much success in this position and are proud to have her serving is this capacity.





Congratulations to South Ripley Kindergarten teacher Tammy Halcomb and First Grade teacher Caroline Cumberworth for winning the two IRTA Area 10 Teacher Grant Awards.  This is the first time that one school corporation was awarded both grants.


Two $500 Teacher Grant Awards are presented in each of the ten IRTA areas each year by the Indiana Retired Teachers Foundation.  The award recipients are chosen by a committee chosen by the Area 10 Director.  The committee members are not aware of the teachers’ names or schools during the selection.





At the October meeting of the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association (RCRTA), Dennis and Betty Bourquein were honored by the Association for their leadership and dedication in the Association. 


Dennis Bourquein, while serving as Area 8 Director of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association revived the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association by helping to assemble new officers for the local association.  Dennis has also served as webmaster of the Association and will be the new Public Relations Chair in 2019.  He also has served as the President of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association.


Betty Bourquein assumed the office of Secretary of the newly re-organized Ripley County Retired Teachers Association in 2006 and continued to serve in that position for twelve years.  In addition to her service to the Ripley County Retired Teacher, she also served as the Public Relations Committee Chair for the Indiana Retired Teachers Association for nine years. 






Members of the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association returned home from the Indiana Retired Teachers Association’s Representative Assembly on June 14, 2017, proud of the honor their local received.  Lois Luken, RCRTA Public Relation’s chair received honor for Outstanding News Releases and Outstanding Newsletter.  Dennis Bourquein, RCRTA Webmaster, received Honorable Mention for the local’s website. Also, receiving the award for Outstanding Volunteer Award was member Louella Voegele.  Congratulations to all!


Picture: Louella Voegele





 Each year the Ripley County Retired Teachers assist in the local schools with reading to the elementary school students for Library Week.  Pictured below is RCRTA member Lois Luken reading to one of the classes at the Batesville Primary School.






One of the yearly activities of the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association is assisting the Lions’ Club with its vision screening program in Ripley and surrounding counties.  A number of retirees assist with this program. Below is a group from one of the screenings.


Left to right:  Jim Powell, Lois Luken, Shirley Bocock (retired teacher and Lions’ Club Vision Screening Coordinator),

Betty Bourquein, Jan Westerfeld, Andrea Westerfeld, and Dennis Westerfeld




The Ripley Country Retired Teachers voted to supply every nurse in the Ripley County schools with $50 dollars to help them purchase the supplies needed for their service to the children of our county.  Pictured below is RCRTA Treasurer, Dennis Westerfeld, presenting Milan’s Elementary Nurse, Tammy Jutzi with her $50 check.







On February 23, 2016, nine members of the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association attended the Indiana Retired Teachers Association Legislative Brunch held in the North Rotunda of the Indiana Statehouse.  The purpose of the Brunch is to talk with the local state legislators about issues of concern for retired teachers.  During the Brunch Senator Jean Leising attend to talk with her constituents.   Senator Leising has been a strong supporter of retired teacher issues. 

Pictured from left to right:  Dennis Bourquein IRTA President, Betty Bourquein RCRTA Secretary,

Senator Jean Leising, Cheryl Parmer, Shirley Bocock, Ralph Hostetler, Andrea Westerfeld RCRTA President,

Dennis Westerfeld, Lois Luken IRTA Area 10 Director, Steve Mills







September 9, 2015, the RCRTA has a planned outing to the LaComedia Theatre at Springboro, Ohio, to see The Church Basement Ladies “Last Potluck” Supper.  The cost is $33.00 per person and reservations can be made by calling Lois Luken at 812-933-1590.  The production is a matinee with door opening at 10:30 a.m.   Deadline for payment is July 28.





VISION SCREENING - Each year during the Fall months, the Ripley County Retired Teachers assist the Lions Club with vision screening the elementary students of Ripley, Franklin, Dearborn, and Decatur counties.  Anyone who would like to be a part of this project should contact Andrea Westerfeld for information about a half day training session.  You can also choose the schools you wish to assist.  There is a need for many volunteers.


THINK SMART, STAY SAFE – This program is offered in the Batesville, Jac-Cen-Del, and South Ripley schools for grades four and five.  Topics covered with students are abduction, abuse, molestation, internet safety, and cell phone safety. Volunteers are needed to assist with small groups in the classroom.  A training session will be held in October.  For further information call Betty Bourquein (812-934-4454), Lois Luken (812-933-1590), or Jascia Robinson (513-227-8129).






L-R:  Jean Deamron presents Lou Voegele the Outstanding Volunteer Award.


Lou Voegele, a dedicated volunteer and member of the Ripley County Retired Teachers Association, was honored at the 2015 Indiana Retired Teachers’ Representative Assembly for her volunteer service to her community.  Her volunteer service include working at the local hospital sorting and delivering mail, working in six different school with the Reality Check program, assisting the Batesville Historical Society with fund raising programs, assisting with meals for special programs sponsored by the Knights of St. John, working with Relay for Life and the Think Pink Cancer program, service to her church, and various other programs in the community.  Lou is a cancer survivor and as a way of showing appreciation to her Lord and Savior, she serves as a mentor to cancer patients at the Hansen Center.


Congratulations Lou!




Donna Harrelson contributed 994 volunteer hours.  Donna works with first grade students for reading and other projects.  She helps first grade teachers with tasks they need done.  She also visits a local health care facility, visits with the residents and helps them with a craft or crocheting projects.


Betty Bourquein gave 903 hours toward volunteer service.  She volunteers for our state IRTA, Ripley and Dearborn Counties locals,  the Dearborn County Retired Teachers  Foundation, her church, the Council for Educational Travel  USA (foreign exchange students), and the Think Smart/Stay Safe program which stresses ways to stay safe from danger to fourth and fifth grades students.


Patsy Holdsworth volunteered a total of 866 hours.  Patsy spends numerous hours for her church, Tri Kappa, and Versailles Lions Club.  She also spends many hours playing the piano for various school and community activities.





Dennis Bourquein, an active member of Ripley and Dearborn County Retired Teachers Associations, became the new Indiana Retired Teachers Association President on July 1, 2015.  He served as IRTA Area 8 Director from 2006-2010, IRTA Secretary-Treasurer from 2011-2013, President-elect from 2013-2015, a member of the state Membership Committee for two years, a member of the state Public Relations Committee for four years, and chair of the state Legislative Committee for two years.  Dennis retired from teaching in 1999 after having taught music for 33 years; six years for Batesville and twenty-seven years for Sunman-Dearborn Community Schools.


A member of Dearborn and Ripley County RTA’s, Bourquein served as President of the Dearborn County RTA for six years and Public Relations Chair for Ripley County for nine years.  He currently serves as webmaster for Dearborn and Ripley County RTA’s.










At the October 2014 Indiana Retired Teachers’ Association Board of Directors meeting, Tom Mellish was selected as the new Executive Director of the Indiana Retired Teachers  Association.  He replaced Nancy Tolson, who retired after serving the IRTA for two years as Executive Director, eights years as an elected officer, and four years as an Area Director.  Mellish began his employment in January 2015.


Mellish has served as the principal of the Sugar Creek Elementary School in Crawfordsville for the past 22 years.  He will be leaving after 35 years in education.  He has been active in the Crawfordsville Kiwanis and the Indiana Association of School Principals.  Mellish was name National Distinguished Principal of the Year in 1996.