Lessons learned from Diane Dozier

Jake Mabe
Features/Politics columnist

She may not have had a license, but make no mistake about it – Diane Dozier was a teacher.

Dozier, 66, a longtime PTA volunteer and former 7th District school board member, passed away Feb. 1.

She may not have been aware of it, but she taught us much.

From her, we learned about loving family with a capital L. She was devoted to her son, Curtis, boasting about his accomplishments, forever proud of him. That love, in fact, led her to join the PTA at Brickey School, which launched her career.

From her, we learned to have a passion for public education. She served as PTA president at Brickey, Halls High and for the state of Tennessee.

From her, we learned how to laugh. Ask her friends and they’ll tell you about the time she misspoke at a PTA meeting somewhere in the state, boasting about an initiative by saying, “It’s a great program, and it will be really good if you have sex at the meeting.”

The audience lost it. One guy said, “Well, we’ve never tried it before at a meeting, but it will sure boost attendance!”

It finally dawned on Diane that she meant to say “sex education.”

Diane and her PTA cohorts learned how to stay calm, surviving earthquakes, bad weather, floods and the time Sarah West (sportswriter Marvin’s better half) passed out at an out-of-town PTA meeting.

From her, we learned to be engaged, active citizens. Not only did Diane serve in PTA leadership roles, she ran for County Commission and successfully ran for Knox County school board, serving from 1998-2006.

From her, we learned that a successful politician does not have to be flashy, verbose or a braggart. Her taciturn demeanor led her critics to underestimate her. She didn’t say much, but she got stuff for the 7th District – needed renovations at Halls Elementary and Powell Middle schools. A new Brickey Elementary School, now named Brickey-McCloud in honor of her longtime friend, former school principal John R. McCloud.

About the only thing she didn’t get was a new Adrian Burnett Elementary, opened as a 10-year “temporary school” in 1976. But we can’t complain much about that. Nobody has figured out how to crack that safe, for some strange reason.

And she was crafty. She would hold weekly construction meetings with the major players at each of her school sites. She and the Shopper-News even successfully lobbied to get a skylight in the office roof at Halls Elementary. How about that!

From her, we learned that service can be a full-time job and then some. As somebody said last week, “You have to be half crazy to be state PTA president, run for office, serve on the school board and then go to work for the Knox County Clerk as your retirement.”

And from her, we learned that the famous Rule really is Golden, and that the passage from I Corinthians is true:

Faith, hope and love will last forever, and the greatest is love.

Thanks, “teach.” And Godspeed, Diane.

“Pull Up A Chair” with Jake Mabe at jakemabe.blogspot.com.

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