(published 12/22/11) Waleska, Ga. - It was a love story that began a century ago. On Christmas Eve, 1911, Mamie Cleo Cagle Tippens and Charles Monroe Tippens were married after a whirlwind romance. The couple first met in a one room school house called Sandy Plains, located on what is now Lower Burris Road in the Clayton Community. It was January, 1910. He was 21 years old and the "new" teacher for the school, and she was 16 years old, an older seventh grader anxious to learn. When school let out in June 1911, after a suitable waiting period, Monore wrote to Cleo telling her he would like to see all of his students, but her most of all. As she'd had her eyes on him too throughout the year, they began to date and were married on December 24, 1911.
Monroe and Cleo raised a family of six girls and one boy: Willie B, Annie D, LeRoy, Ruth, Margaret, Marjorie and Betty. As his family grew, Monroe, who had run away from home to get a high school education, found it necessary to give up teaching and turn to farming, as his father has originally wanted him to do, for his main income. But he never lost his zeal for learning or his conviction that education was the most important legacy he and Cleo could pass along to their children. He was determined that all of his children get an education. Despite financial pressures and prevailing practices of the rural community, he never kept them out of school to do farm work.
When the time came for high school, their older children lived in Canton with their Grandmother Julia Cagle during the school year to be close Canton High School. Willie B. and Annie D. graduated from there in 1930. LeRoy entered Canton High School the same year and graduated in 1934. LeRoy entered Reinhardt College in 1934 and graduated in 1936.
Ruth started at Canton in 1933, but then transferred to Reinhardt Academy in 1934 and graduated in spring of 1937. Margaret and Marjorie entered Canton High School in 1937, but, due to city regulations were switched to Reinhardt Academy for their senior year in 1940. They graduated from Reinhardt Academy in 1941. In the fall of 1941 they entered Reinhardt College and graduated in 1943.
Betty entered Canton High School in 1946 and graduated in 1948. She stayed at Sandy Plains School through the ninth grade, and went to Canton in the 10th grade. She went to Reinhardt College in the fall of 1948 and graduated in 1950.
The descendants of Charles Monroe and Mamie Cleo Tippens have been the primary beneficiaries of their devotion to education, and now account for more than 50 bachelors degrees, 25 masters degrees, and 13 doctoral degrees (9 PhDs, 4 MDs). To date, 12 descendants of Monroe and Cleo have attended Reinhardt for a total of more than 40 years of schooling at the then college. Their descendants and their spouses also account for more that half a millennium of years taught in the Cherokee County School system, including a long term principal for which Lee R. Tippens Elementary School is named, and a long term member and chairman of the Cherokee County School Board, who was instrumental in the creation of Sequoyah and Etowah High Schools.
As education, and Reinhardt as well, has been in the forefront of this family's existence for the last century, Margaret Tippens, daughter of Monroe and Cleo, has established an endowment in her parents memory. The Charles Monroe and Mamie Cleo Tippens Memorial Endowment Fund at Reinhardt University will provide scholarships for deserving Reinhardt students. A charitable trust of $10,000 has been earmarked for Reinhardt to initially endow the fund, with plans to make it a matching fund for all the Tippens family at the rate of $.50 on the dollar to encourage the accrual of $30,000 as a preliminary goal for the fund.
"Our family has a proud history with Reinhardt," said Jeffrey Dobson, Ph.D., son of Margaret Tippens Dobson. "We are hopeful that this endowment will encourage other members of the Monroe and Cleo Tippens family to remember Reinhardt in their future charitable giving and estate planning. Reinhardt has played a major role in the educational background of my family, so what better way for my mother to honor that heritage than to establish an endowment in honor of her parents, the founding members of our family."
Although no longer with us, Monroe and Cleo Tippens will be especially remembered by their family on this Christmas Eve—what would have marked their 100th wedding anniversary. The love story that began a century ago, instilled in this family an appreciation and love for education, and now, through the endowment fund at Reinhardt University, has created a legacy for generations to come.
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