Harry Truman once wrote, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”
If President Truman had lived in Cass County, he might have revised the quotation to say, “If you can read this, thank Alyce Green.”
Green is one of those people that deserve the adoration of a hero, yet would shun even the smallest form of personal praise.
I know this for a fact, because a few years ago I was asked by a couple of people to write a story about this humble and kind woman, and my first response was, “You know she’s not going to like this.”
With firm resolve, however, I called her and basically presented the idea of a story about her using my “this-is-an-offer-I’m-not-going-to-let-you-refuse” voice.
Her response was, “Do you really have to?”
“Yes, I have people who have asked me to write it.”
“I suppose, but please don’t go overboard with it.”
Sorry, Alyce. But as the saying goes, “That just ain’t going to happen.”
There are few people who come anywhere close to deserving praise and adoration than Alyce. After attending Normal Training at Peru College, she started to teach at a country school near Papillion. She later taught in La Platte, Cedar Creek and, of course, Plattsmouth Community Schools.
She was a top-notch teacher through and through and clear to what I imagine to be the last days of her life.
Alyce retired from earning a salary teaching in a public school in 1991, years before I first met her some 10 to 14 years ago. And yet, retirement never stopped her from being a teacher.
I would see her in downtown Plattsmouth getting out of her car — with difficulty sometimes — and walking to the courthouse where she taught GED classes for many years. A few times I offered to help her, but she didn’t want the help. Even if it took her a few minutes to get to her feet and make her way to the courthouse, she wanted to get there herself without anyone taking pity on her.
I always paled a little when I came across her, because she was everything I had ever wanted to be – kind, respected and unselfish. There isn’t a brighter star in Hollywood than this simple, devoted and amazing woman even though she liked to “hide her light” under the proverbial “basket.”
Occasionally, throughout the past years, she would call me and suggest I put something in the newspaper like the latest phone scam preying on elderly people or some other bit of news that might help the readers.
She read the newspaper and often commented on the stories. She was a longtime friend of The Journal, because she thoroughly understood how important it is to keep abreast of what goes on in the community you live in order to understand it and how to help it.
Alyce also wanted others to have the gift of reading, so they could explore worlds they might never visit, develop a need to understand issues from many perspectives and improve their employment opportunities.
She didn’t care if you came from the right or wrong side of the tracks.
She just wanted to empower people with the skills she knew how to teach. If we were all more like Alyce, this world would be a heaven on earth.
Unfortunately, she was a rarity, and in many ways like the virtuous woman as described in Psalm 31 whose price was above rubies.
In 2015, she was presented a National Community Service Award for her volunteer work. She received the award during a Cass County Retired Educators’ meeting.
The write-up I received about the award noted that Alyce “volunteers many hours gathering clothing, food and books to have transported to the Stephen Center in Omaha.”
Her philosophy on life was simple and giving, “If you see someone has a need, help them. I try to do the best I can.”
Alyce was patient and unjudgmental, qualities that made her success as a teacher and as a human being. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I saw her at the local thrift store. She was with her daughter, and the three of us chatted for a few minutes before going on with our shopping.
Today, while loading stories onto The Journal’s website, I noticed Alyce’s obituary at the top of the page.
My heart sunk to my toes. Even though we know none of us will live forever, I guess I didn’t think she would be taken away so soon at age 88.
We all need people like Alyce to live an eternity. Because it’s people like her that make life better, easier, brighter.
So if you can read this, just remember, thank a teacher.
Thank Alyce Green for giving you a skill that will last your lifetime.