Executive Director's Message

Wanda Ruffo Twigg

2022 marks the 75th Anniversary of the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA). Many of us are unaware of the extraordinary efforts of NRTA's founder to advocate on behalf of retired teachers and eventually for all retired persons. Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired California high school principal, founded NRTA in 1947.

 

Dr. Andrus retired unexpectedly in 1944 at the age of 60 to care for her ailing mother, eventually bringing her back to health. Dr. Andrus was also a member of the Committee for Retired Teacher's Welfare for the young California Retired Teachers Association. It was in this volunteer role, that Dr. Andrus found what would be her next life's calling. The story goes like this.

 

One day, Dr. Andrus was asked to check on a retired teacher who lived about 30 miles outside of Los Angeles. It was raining when she arrived at the well- kept home. She thought someone had played a joke on her as she had been told that the person, she was visiting needed much assistance. After speaking with a neighbor, Dr. Andrus learned of someone who lived "out back" of the nice home. When Dr. Andrus knocked on the door of the chicken coop, she was surprised at the woman who came to the door. She had been a well -respected Spanish teacher before she retired. Now she was living on a $40 monthly pension.

 

The Depression and a flood had taken the property she had planned to build on years earlier. The chicken coop was the only home the retired teacher could afford.

 

Upon learning of this teacher's plight and knowing she was not the only retired teacher trying to live on such a small pension, Dr. Andrus knew she had to do more for retired persons. By October of 1947, with the help of some friends, lots of work and tireless persuasion, Dr. Andrus was able to convince the Retired Teacher Associations of California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to join what would become NRTA. Other states joined over time, including Maryland. We joined NRTA in 1954.

 

NRTA and the state affiliates worked to preserve and improve retirement benefits for retired teachers. Eventually, that work expanded to include all school employees and to include health benefits. Travel/social opportunities and service in the community are also pillars of NRTA and of our state associations.

 

Two of NRTA's four primary purposes were to promote the professional, social, and economic status of retired teachers and to further the advancement of education in the United States. These continue to be the focus of the work of NRTA and of MRSPA 75 and 77 years later.

 

Wanda Ruffo Twigg

MRSPA Executive Director