Education Advocate Joins Hall of Honor

Marjorie Blake graduated from Sidney High School in 1954 and was married two years later to classmate Tom Dunnavant. By 1963 their first child had entered kindergarten and Marj again became engaged with the Sidney City Schools in a new association that would span 40 years. The duration and quality of her service will result in her induction into the Sidney City Schools Hall of Honor in the SHS auditorium at 7:30pm on Friday, April 15. A gymnasium reception will follow with both events open to the public. Joining Marj Dunnavant in the class of 2016 are fellow alums Rob Decker (1978), Kathy Lindsey (1967), and Charles G. Rhyan (1961). This foursome will grow the Hall to 119 members.

Her initial involvement was sparked by general interest in her children and the Sidney City Schools, along with concerns that early elementary curriculum wasn't demanding enough. She first had dialogue with Superintendent Harold McDermott, then his successor Roger McGee who arrived in 1965, while serving on all types of committees and being active in the Parent Teacher Organization. From there she embarked upon a path that included ten years on the Sidney Board of Education (1976-86), eight years on the Joint Vocational School Board, an 18 year leadership role with the Clear Creek Farm residential orphanage, and charter membership on the Sidney City Schools Hall of Honor Committee.

Interestingly, this was a domino effect. "I represented the Sidney Schools on the JVS Board where I met the folks who started Clear Creek," she said recently. "I really enjoyed the JVS experience. We traveled to three neighboring states to get ideas from similar operations." For her service to both the Sidney & JVS boards, she received southwest region recognition in 1985.

The late Roger McGee was an enthusiastic early proponent of Marj's nomination for the Hall of Honor. "She asked penetrating questions and always contributed in a positive way to discussions at board meetings.  She was a team player and completely understood her role as a board member," he recalled. "Marj had a very positive impact on the school system and unselfishly gave of her time and talent." Appropriately, she will join both McDermott and McGee in the Hall of Honor.

Dunnavant's civic excellence wasn't confined to education. The Charity League Toy Hospital, First United Methodist Church, and St. Paul's United Church of Christ have also been beneficiaries of her local commitment.

Marj & Tom Dunnavant continue to reside in Sidney. They have four adult children. She is the second member of the 1954 graduating class to be elected to the Hall of Honor, joining Gary VanFossen.