The Choestoe community in Union County is home to one of the area’s “national treasures,” Mrs. Dora Hunter Allison Spiva. On February 10, 2006, “Aunt Dora,” as she is affectionately known to family and friends alike, celebrated her 101st birthday among the people of Choestoe, who love her dearly. 
Mrs. Dora Spiva (left) enjoys a light-hearted moment with one of her former students, Ethelene Dyer Jones, an alumna of Truett-McConnell in the class of 1949.

The following day Truett-McConnell College, Cleveland, GA, hosted a luncheon in her honor at Choestoe Baptist Church, to give her family and friends an opportunity to celebrate her birthday with her, to announce the naming of the newly-approved four-year education program at the college for her, and to kick off the campaign to endow the Dora Spiva Education Program.

In spite of a winter weather advisory in effect and snowplows hard at work clearing the Neels Gap Road, more than 100 people came to celebrate with Mrs. Spiva, all with stories about the influence she has had on their lives. Ladies of the Blairsville Garden Club, of which Mrs. Spiva is a member, donated their services to make about two dozen arrangements of fresh flowers for the tables. Members of Choestoe Baptist Church, led by the pastor, Rev. Dick Stilwell, were on hand to help with setup and cleanup. 
The Dora Spiva Education Program at Truett-McConnell College was officially launched at the luncheon by Dr. Jerry W. Pounds, Sr., president of the college. In speaking about the program, Dr. Susan Gannaway, education department head, commented that the Bachelor of Science in Education degree program at TMC will begin in the fall of 2006 with teacher training in early childhood education and later expand into other grade levels as well. She ended her remarks by saying: “Truett-McConnell will train teachers that the area schools will be proud to employ. We trust that Dora Spiva will be proud that they are trained in an education program that bears her name.”
Truett-McConnell College was chartered in 1946 as a two-year college and this year is celebrating its 60th year of operation. In 2003 the college began its first bachelor’s degree programs in music and in December 2005 received approval to start two more four-year degrees, one of which is the Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in early childhood education. In considering an influential educator in north Georgia for whom the education program could be named, college officials settled quickly on Mrs. Spiva, whose long career in public education and her outstanding Christian example helped shape the lives of hundreds of young people.
Local residents who spoke to Mrs. Spiva’s influence on their own lives at the birthday luncheon included Ethelene Dyer Jones, Austine Hunter Wallis, Superintendent of Schools Tommy Stephens, and former Superintendent of Schools Clyde Collins, all current or retired educators themselves. State Representative Charles Jenkins presented to Mrs. Spiva a resolution passed by the Georgia General Assembly, commending her on her illustrious career in education and on her long and fruitful life.
At the conclusion of the celebration, just before the two large birthday cakes were cut, Dr. DeWitt Cox, consultant with Truett-McConnell, and Dr. Sam Cash, TMC Vice President for Advancement Services, challenged those in attendance to lead the way in raising funds to provide endowment for the Dora Spiva Education Program at Truett-McConnell. 
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