Ruritan Torch is Passed Cover
Ruritan Torch is Passed
Ruritan Torch is Passed

Yes, what to do. Whether it was man's contrivance or God's intervention, the whisper went out that Vo-Ag teaching positions in Nansemond County were being eliminated to better control school budgets during the Depression. (Ed: A rural agricultural county controlling school budgets by eliminating the greatest educational asset: not Home Economics, not Music, but Agriculture?) Holland School Principal HV White passed the word to JJ Gwaltney. As the District Vo-Ag Supervisor for Eastern Va, which included Nansemond County, Tom Downing found a Vo-Ag teaching position open in Emporia Virginia. Gwaltney was a family man, this. was the Great Depression economy, his position at Holland was being eliminated. Gwaltney took the job in Emporia. The Gwaltney family moved to Emporia, but Gwaltney's was apparently the only move. Tom Downing never writes that any of the other Vo-Ag Teachers in Nansemond County lose their jobs, only JJ Gwaltney. Neither does Downing write of finding teaching positions for any of the other Vo-Ag Teachers in the County, only the position for Gwaltney. After JJ Gwaltney moved to Emporia, common sense prevailed and the elimination of Vo-Ag teaching positions in Nansemond County was reversed. The open Vo-Ag teaching position in Holland School was filled.

A big change was now in the making for Ruritan. With his move to Emporia, Gwaltney's intent might have been to stay active as Ruritan National Secretary because he took with him Ruritan National's Official Records. Eventually Gwaltney realized the intent for the move. The Ruritan Torch was being passed. The Ruritan Vision was passing from JJ Gwaltney the Ruritan Founder, to Tom Downing the Ruritan Builder. The change was necessary for a greater Ruritan. ,Throughout all of this, Gwaltney's outward attitude remained gentlemanly and very silent about the intervening circumstances of his move to Emporia. However when Gwaltney moved from Holland to Emporia, he had to leave the Holland Ruritan Club, the Club he had founded; and eventually his ties with Ruritan National were severed. All of which was probably not as he had planned in the move to Emporia since he still had in his possession the official Records of Ruritan National (that's another story). In the years following, JJ Gwaltney did not challenge Tom Downing's announced claim to "Co-Founder" of Ruritan. This claim bubbled and boiled in the background until the 1961 Ruritan National President finally appointed a National Committee, Chaired by Past National President Frank Kellam, to better resolve the question ... "Who founded Ruritan."

Read "The Founder - The Builder"

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