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Mary Hodge Halsey

by Jody Davis


By Jody Davis, KCME Volunteer

You wouldn’t think of Mary Catherine (Hodge) Halsey as an important major book author.  She wasn’t.  But to the many graduates of the now closed Rule High School, she is THE most important book author they know.  GOLDEN MEMORIES OF RULE HIGH SCHOOL, A History, was that book.  Mary passed away in Atlanta, Georgia, December 4, 2018 at the age of 90.


Born in Strawberry Plains, growing up in Knoxville, Mary was a 1946 graduate of Rule High School and was selected as “Most Studious” of her senior class.  After graduation from Rule, she attended Hiwassee College.  She married William Ingram form Vonore, Tennessee.  They moved to Atlanta, Georgia where they had one child, a daughter, Annette.  The family then located to Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan, where during the 50’s and 60’s Mary worked at Fruehauf and later for the Teamsters Union during Jimmy Hoffa’s term.  She subsequently worked directly for Frank Fitzsimmons, Jimmy Hoffa’s replacement.  After the Teamsters, Mary began working for the Social Security Administration, transferring to Ventura, California in 1962 and then to San Francisco and Vallejo.  She then transferred to Phoenix, Arizona, marrying her second husband, Keith Halsey, and eventually retiring there.  In 1981, Mary moved back to Atlanta to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren.  Another move back to her roots to Knoxville was necessitated by helping care for her brother Walter “Junior” Hodge, Jr. during his illness before passing.


During this return to Knoxville, Mary reconnected with relatives, friends and Rule classmates whom she had not seen for about 50 years.  In an effort to promote the memory of Rule High, Mary was instrumental in initiating still ongoing Rule High School breakfast meetings.  Along with her interest in keeping the memory of Rule alive, Mary, upon reading a story in the newspaper about a school museum opening in Historic Knoxville High School, showed up at the Knox County Museum of Education the very next day to offer any assistance she could.  She became a valued contributor to the Museum, volunteering time, items for display, as well as monetary contributions.  She continued her support of the Museum from afar after a final move back to Atlanta to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren, where she was an active member of her retirement community.


During Mary’s volunteer work with the Museum and continuing efforts to keep Rule High memories alive, Mary developed an interest, with encouragement and support of other Rule graduates to write the historical account of Rule High School…….hence her book, published in 2006. Mary received an award from the East Tennessee Historical Society for this publication.  Copies of GOLDEN MEMORIES OF RULE HIGH SCHOOL, A History, are still available at the Knox County Museum of Education.  Prior to learning of her passing, the Museum, with support of Rule High graduates, was in the planning stages of making a display case in Mary’s honor.  Those efforts are ongoing, and with the support of Mary’s family, as expressed through her daughter, any contributions in Mary’s honor can be made to the Knox County Museum of Education, 801 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, TN  37920, 865-579-8264, ext. 5,   Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., M – F.