Submitted by Pat Wallace
Henry County Chamber of Commerce
One of the criteria for a person to receive the Patrick Henry Award, the most prestigious given in the county, is that the person has made a tremendous contribution to the betterment of the county and that the overall involvement of this person be without fanfare.
The award winner for 2011 has a different way of contributing as she has long and quietly made better citizens of numerous students she taught at both Henry County Public and Eminence Independent Schools. These students have become the outstanding citizens that help make Henry County one of the best places to live.
If the name Martha Tarry is mentioned to any person who graduated between 1959-64 at Henry County and 1962-73 as well as in 1976-78 at Eminence, they immediately share how she influenced them and the impact she made on their futures. Tarry is now a wonderful 97-years-young, and she has many memories of the students she shepherded to adulthood.
Not only did she make certain the rules of grammar and the works of literature were firmly grounded in the youths’ minds, she made certain the rules of behavior were strongly emphasized.
Tina Barr Tipton remembered the day she came into class and sat on a thumbtack placed there by an unknown person. She said Tarry spent part of the class time explaining to the young men in the class that placing a thumbtack in a young lady’s seat was not acceptable and would not be tolerated. There are many stories of how her tact and wisdom were shared without anger. Her quiet handling of any problem and her talented presentations remain in the minds of her students today. These young students were shown by example how a true lady or gentleman should act in many situations. Tarry has always been an example of a true southern lady.
Not only did she guide the youth, but after her final retirement in 1978, she continued to be active in many community organizations. She was a member of the Eminence Literary Club, Smithfield Garden Club, acted as a facilitator of Historic Drennon Storytelling and Crafts Festival, and at the Eminence Presbyterian Church she served as choral singer, elder, and even occasionally led the morning service as a lay speaker. She was active in the Henry County Retired Teachers Organization, serving as local and district president, and served on the executive council of the Kentucky Retirement System. As a member of the Henry County Historical Society, she proofread, edited, and rewrote scripts of the Henry County History Book, 1798-1995. This effort took more than four years to complete.
Tarry has presented portrayals of several characters for various programs including groups outside Henry County. Two of her most memorable characters would be former vice-president candidate, Geraldine Ferraro, which was performed for the Democratic Women’s Club; and May Stone, a pioneer in Adult Education. Her most recent activity is acting as facilitator of Arts in Henry County presentations that were as recent as November 2010. She has plans for more artistic presentations in the future.
Our award winner grew up with a passion for reading, music, dancing and the arts. Born in Ohio County, she spent some years teaching in other counties, but as the wife of former Eminence Superintendent Mark McCoy Tarry, she found Henry County to be the perfect place to call home. She later married George Simpson several years after the loss of Mr. Tarry.
Mrs. Simpson enjoys hiking, traveling and camping. She especially enjoys watching her three children (Chloteen Page, Gwen Nelson, and Mike Tarry), their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren develop their lives, but always her former students are in her mind and heart. Her motto that has shaped her years of giving education is “Each student is endowed with unique potential. Develop it!”
The Patrick Henry Award Dinner will be May 17 at the Eminence Christian Church Fellowship Hall. Tickets will go on sale April 1, and seating will be limited. There will be no advanced requests to hold tickets, but those wishing to attend should send in their $30 for a ticket beginning April 1.
While the Henry County Chamber of Commerce facilitates this award, no funds from the dinner go to the Chamber. If there are funds left from any donations for expenses, these will go to a scholarship fund in honor of Mrs. Tarry Simpson. Donations may be made and mailed to the Chamber at P.O. Box 355, New Castle, KY 40050. Former students who would like to share memories or stories of their time with Mrs. Tarry Simpson may send these to the Chamber, and some may be shared at the dinner. She will receive these as a keepsake of the event.