|Donald G. Miller and Nancy L.M. Miller
Her children know her as a curious, creative, courageous and concerned parent who made growing and learning fun. Her students say that she could convince them that they were capable of doing things that they never thought they could. Her friends find comfort in her consistent care. But no one calls her a heroine; they call her Mama, Grandma, Mrs. Meredith or Adalyn.
Adalyn Victoria Parris Meredith is the oldest child born to John William and Ada Ina Campbell Parris in Winamac, Indiana, on October 1, 1906. She came to Iowa in 1912 with her family on an emigrant train made up in the Blue Island Railroad Center, South Chicago, Illinois, of families from Ohio and Indiana who were coming to live in Iowa and Nebraska. Her family had a box car full of the family possessions, including livestock.
She graduated from Laurens High School, Laurens, Iowa, in 1924 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of Iowa in 1929. Educated as a teacher, she taught at Swan Lake Township No. 3, a one-room rural school in Pocahontas County and in the communities of Denison, Wellman, Ware, Havelock and Laurens. She retired from teaching after 23 years in the classroom, was a substitute teacher the following nine years and an instructor in the General Education Degree program for Fort Dodge Area Community College for the next six years.
In those more than thirty years of teaching, she helped hundreds of children and youth to be more than they thought they could be; she demanded more than they thought they could do; she took them to places they never thought they would go and to heights they never thought they could reach. Teaching mathematics, history, literature and speech, she taught them to read good works, appreciate the passage of time, enjoy solving tough problems and create great performances. Her students, now doctors, lawyers, farmers, teachers, accountants, pilots, newscasters and pastors, report to her that they are successful because of the lessons she taught -- and that they had fun learning.
After school and in summer, her family's farmhouse became the center of 4-H activity as young people learned to build, sew, cook, bake, demonstrate and keep records under her watchful eye (with the help of her husband, Leonard, and her children, Nancy Mary and Andy). Much of her volunteer work centered on the outreach program of Iowa State University. She was a 4-H leader for 21 years, served on the Pocahontas County 4-H Committee for four years, and on the County Extension Council for four years. She enjoyed attending Family Life Conferences and working hard at State 4-H Conferences.
Parents of "her 4-H'ers" say that the lives of these young people are witness to her concern for the future of families; these new families are succeeding because of her teaching and her influence. Her Sunday school teacher's book was usually well-worn by the end of the quarter. For 35 years, she taught on Sundays and at Vacation Bible School at Ware Methodist Church. She also served as Chair of the Christian Education Committee at Havelock United Methodist Church for eight years. She served as president of United Methodist Women for eight years.
Her persistence in seeking theologically sound curriculum and her insistence on experiences that made learning exciting and memorable produced religious education activities that helped Biblical stories come alive. A historian at heart and a gifted story teller, she helps her family remember the heroines who influenced her life. Her family wants others to know that she is a heroine in her own right.
She has birthed, raised, educated, encouraged and empowered people --- her husband, her children and their spouses, her grandchildren, and great grandchild included --- to be the best that they can be and to settle for nothing less. And always with her most important question being "Well, are you happy?"