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April 19: Miss Reynold's Day in Hannibal; Celebrating a half century dedicated to education

Special thanks go to Deanne Meyer, secretary to the business manager for the Hannibal school district, for retrieving this photo of Leolia Reynolds, 50 year educator, from the school district's historic files.


Sunday, April 19, is a special day in Hannibal’s educational history. It is the date set aside in 1953 to perpetually honor Miss Leolia Reynolds, a Hannibal educator who dedicated her life to teaching children, a career that spanned from 1901 until her retirement in 1952.

There are those among the Hannibal populace who still remember Miss Reynolds, who lived at 1109 Fulton Ave., on Hannibal’s South Side, and taught at what is now known as Stowell School from 1901-1918. She later transferred to Mark Twain Elementary, where she served as the school’s principal for the next 29 years. She concluded her career at Mark Twain as a teacher, where she retired at age 70 in 1952.

Ruth Ann (Tarleton) Hayes of Hannibal is among the students who remember Miss Reynolds. Miss Reynolds taught Ruth Ann’s fifth grade class at Mark Twain. “She was very strict but fair,” Ruth Ann said. I loved for her to smile (because she did not often).”

One trait that Ruth Ann remembers is that Miss Reynolds had beautiful penmanship.

Jim Featherstone of Orlando, Fla., formerly of Hannibal, remembers Miss Reynolds fondly. “She taught my father at Field School, and (at Mark Twain School) she called me Clare (my dad’s name.)”

Robert Schweitzer remembers when she was principal at Mark Twain during World War II. She was replaced as principal by Mr. Kleiber around 1947, Robert remembers. “She traveled several times to South America, and seemed to most enjoy Chile after a close brush with Pancho Villa, after the Columbus raid,” he said.

Meryle Dexheimer remembers that Arvel, Miss Reynold’s brother, lived next door to her on Union Street when she was growing up.

And Jane Bleigh recalls Miss Reynold’s sister, Hattie Reynolds Raithel, who lived on Marsh Avenue. Miss Reynolds lived with her sister the last few years of her life. “She (Hattie) taught me how to knit,” Jane said.

Dan Griffen remembers that Miss Reynolds was a long-time member of the First Methodist Church in Hannibal. “She was always a teacher, in church as well as school,” he said, “very active in anything that went on in Sunday school and church.

“She was a teacher in our Sunday school for many, many years. When the boys came back from service in 1946, she had a couples class in the corner of the church. The (the couples) started having families, and the group broke into women’s and men’s classes.”

Class of 1901

A noteworthy event in Miss Reynolds’ life took place in 1902 when Sam Clemens - aka Mark Twain - made his last visit to Hannibal. He had agreed to be the graduation speaker for the Class of 1901, but had to cancel his trip to Hannibal due to scheduling problems.

When he visited in 1902, class members from the 1901 class who were still in town gathered together for a meeting with the famed author. Miss Reynolds was among those pictured with Mark Twain.

Reynolds honored by Delta Kappa Gamma

The Iota chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma honored Miss Reynolds with an open house in honor of her retirement on April 19, 1953. It was decreed that the day would be observed in Hannibal each year as “Miss Reynold’s Day.”

Note: Information for this article was obtained from the Mexico Ledger, via; an article by Kay Speckhart of the Hannibal Courier-Post dated Feb. 14, 1970, and through the memories of Hannibal residents.

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