Helen Fetzer celebrates 105th birthday
Published 9:01 am Friday, January 5, 2024
BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Mrs. Helen Fetzer celebrated her 105th birthday January 5 with family members at Ivy Hall Nursing Home, where she is a resident.
Mrs. Fetzer has been at Ivy Hall for almost a year. She is a World War II veteran and retired teacher of 34 years.
Now confined to a wheelchair, her white hair, and her face lined with small crinkles of wisdom, Mrs. Fetzer has lots of stories to tell and memories that are golden. She is the widow of John Fetzer, who was active in local government and employed in the insurance business. Mrs. Fetzer is the mother of four children, Bobby Fetzer and Marie Bryant. Two sons, Dr. John Fetzer, M.D., and Dr. Danny Fetzer, Ph.D., are deceased.
Mrs. Fetzer grew up in Campbell County, one of five children. She finished high school at the age of 16, and first attended Carson-Newman College and later ETSU. Her first teaching job was at a one-room school in Knox County, where she served as both principal and teacher. However, World War II interrupted her teaching career as she joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1943. She was assigned to the War Department in Washington, D.C., where she was able to attend George Washington University. She attained the rank of sergeant. About her military career, Mrs. Fetzer said she and those first women to serve in the WACs were trailblazers – they got to go and do what no other woman had ever done.
When the war was over she returned to Tennessee and eventually married a young man, who served as a pilot during World War II. Mrs. Fetzer had first met him when she attended Carson-Newman College with his sister.
The family moved to Elizabethton when John, who was employed with TVA, came to Carter County to work on the Watauga Dam. Mrs. Fetzer continued her schooling at ETSU, earning a Master’s Degree. She is credited with setting up the first kindergarten program at Keenburg Elementary. She worked as a supervisor for both the Carter County School System and Johnson City School System.
She is a long-time member of East Side Baptist Church, and resided in the East Side Community until she moved to Sycamore Springs Assisted Living a few years ago.
About her long life, Mrs. Fetzer says she has been blessed. “I can’t complain, it’s not always been easy, but I had a good husband and raised some fine children, have been blessed with many good friends,” she shared.
She shared that she not only had beat COVID, but RSV, and in earlier years, the Spanish Flu Epidemic.