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100 years of loving and sharing

By Rachel McDaniel Rochelle Kantner shaped the lives of many young students during her 25 years as a teacher and she recently celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and family at Sunny Grove in Barnesville. She said she was proud of the work she did as a teacher and proud of all her students, including those who became doctors, judges, lawyers and went to college for other careers. Rochelle was born Nov. 16, 1918 and moved to Barnesville with her husband John in 1951 so he could teach at Gordon Military College and she could teach at Gordon Grammar School. Those who know her well credit her loving and giving nature for her long life. ’We came to Barnesville and lived downtown on Byrd Street. Our very first Sunday in town, we went to First Baptist Church and we never left,’ said Rochelle. ‘We even have a church member who comes here to teach a Sunday school class and last Sunday we had 18 people in class.’ When asked what advice she had for the current generation, she encouraged people to think about what they can do to help others and then figure out the best way to do it. She taught at Gordon Grammar School for 19 years and in Roberta for six years, with as many as 40 children in her class per school year. One of her fellow school teachers from Gordon Grammar School – Faye Winham and her husband Joe – visited from Lilburn for Rochelle’s birthday. ’She was the best teacher in the world, everybody loved her,’ said Faye. ‘She has always been a very loving and giving person.’ Rochelle fondly remembered her years as a teacher, including one little girl who would rather sit in her lap at recess instead of playing with her classmates. She mostly taught third grade and said her favorite part of teaching was spending time with her students and getting them excited about learning by doing projects and science experiments like an erupting volcano. She said she also had a fish aquarium in her classroom and she put kissing fish in it to see her students’ reactions. She went to Livingston State Teachers College and earned her teaching degree and started teaching when she was 21 years old. She met her husband James ‘Jim’ Kantner at a basketball game and he went into the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving in the Pacific theater before they were married. She said he saw the effects of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan during his time in the service. ’He went off to the Navy for four years after I met him and when he came back, he went to my mom and dad’s house and said we were going to get married. They thought about that for a little while and we got married in a little town in Alabama,’ she said. ‘From there, we went on a bus to Atlanta, Georgia for three days for our honeymoon.’ Rochelle said she loves living at Sunny Grove, helping people and sharing whatever she can. Bobbie Burnette said Rochelle has brought so much joy to the residents of Sunny Grove and she helps them in any way she can, whether it’s a sewing needle or a pin just being there to love them. You get local stories like this only in The Herald Gazette. Subscribe today and get a second subscription to give as a Christmas gift for half price. Call 358-NEWS.

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