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Diane Dickey retires after 36 years at Lynchburg Elementary

After 36 years in the halls of Lynchburg Elementary, Diane Dickey retired this week as secretary and bookkeeper. Her last official day is December 17. (Photo Provided)

It’s Friday afternoon and LES Secretary and Bookkeeper Diane Dickey is surrounded by a flash mob of students, teachers, faculty, family, and friends. “Come and get your love,” they croon as they dance and sing around her. Diane – ever a character and the life of every party she attends – stands in the middle dancing, singing, and pointing that love right back at them. It’s a moment 36 years in the making. After nearly four decades in the Moore County School System at Lynchburg Elementary, Diane Dickey will retire this week. She’s been there through eight different principals and two different school directors.

A native of Elora, Diane made it to Lynchburg via Fayetteville when she married the love of her life, Moore County boy Jim Dickey. Together they have two sons. Their oldest, Dusty, is a fourth grade teacher at LES. Their youngest, Chris, is the head of the culinary team at the historic Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant in Lynchburg. Diane started her career in the Moore County School System as a substitute teacher and teaching assistant before evolving into her current role. She’s worn many additional hats along the way, according to Dusty.

“Before LES hired a fulltime school nurse, if you got sick or scraped your knee, you went to Mrs. Dickey’s office,” says Dusty. “She kept Band-Aids and a thermometer in her top drawer for years.”

Someone the students knew they could rely on

Diane not only showed up for work for 36 years at LES, she also showed up for her students, according to Theresa Bateman, who’s worked at LES with Diane for nearly 30 years.

“Those kid love her and they know that they can confide in her,” Theresa said. “They are gonna miss her. She did her rounds everyday to different parts of the school to say ‘hi‘ to the students. She’s like everyone’s grandmother – half the kids call her Mae Mae.”

Theresa says Diane’s energy is infectious and some of her best memories of her friend are of her dancing down the hallway in search of the next great adventure.

Denise Beavers, who worked with Diane for 25 year as a LES teacher, agrees with Teresa.

“Diane would come to my classroom and share stories with the students about her younger days that included invaluable life lessons,” Denise says. “They would listen to every word. She gave them the vibe of a very caring and concerning person. She also amazes me in her ability to remember all the details in her stories.”

On Thursday, Mayor Bonnie Lewis proclaimed December 17 Diane Dickey Day i Lynchburg. (Photo Provided)

December 17 will forever be Diane Dickey Day in Lynchburg

On Thursday, Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis presented Diane with a Metro proclamation officially naming December 17 Diane Dickey Day in Lynchburg. The document lauds Diane for her “devoted time, energy, and love of LES since 1984.”

“She was a teacher’s assistant for 10 years and in 1994 became the school secretary, setting a new standard for the position,” it reads. “Not only did she always do her job, she spread the joy of laughter and will forever be a trusted soul, like a mom, like a Mae Mae, to a generation of students.”

Ever stoic, Diane’s kept a stiff upper lips throughout her retirement celebrations until those final words of the proclamation.

“She loves when she see’s student out in the world and they call her Mae Mae, the name her grandchildren gave her,” says Mayor Lewis. “It means the world to her.”

Dusty says he feels like the timing is right for his mother’s retirement though he doubts she’ll fade into the background.

“She knows and loves everyone and everyone knows and loves her,” he says. “She may have a few more trips to Tunica in her future but she’ll continue to make an impression to everyone she meets.”

“The one thing I do know,” adds Denise. “Is that she will be back down there visiting those kids even after her retirement. I know she loves being able to see those children.”•

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned newspaper in Lynchburg and also the only woman-owned newspaper in Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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