Bobbye Griswold Dedman Schroeder, a retired teacher at Red Bank High School, died on July 3, 2020, in Chattanooga at age 91.
An enthusiastic spinner of tales, last fall Bobbye sat in her wheelchair in front of the courthouse in Jonesborough, Tennessee, a 90-year-old great-grandmother telling a ribald tale at the National Storytelling Festival for an appreciative audience.
Although formally she taught typing, shorthand, and accounting at Red Bank from 1961 until she retired in 1990, her lessons were quilted from stories of her childhood on a farm in Middle Tennessee. The main thread in Mrs. Dedman's classroom was persistence. How, when she was 10, a mule fell on her father, breaking his back. How, although her father was paralyzed from the waist down, with a wife and three young daughters, he ran a farm, started a grocery store, and rigged up the family car so he could drive. She said, "My Daddy was my inspiration."
And always there was humor. One day during the 1940s her mother steered the car off the new high concrete highway to Tullahoma, turning over in a farmer's field. Bobbye's first concern wasn't that the car was upside down, or that it might catch fire, but, considering the World War II-era rationing, "Mother, be careful, don't tear my nylon hose!"
In retirement she received dozens of messages, cards, and letters from former students, recalling her mixture of pep talks and ironclad rules for professionalism, meaning to get things exactly right.
"I wouldn't be anywhere without this lady and her fierce way of teaching typing," one student wrote.
"Love her!" wrote another. "She was the real deal, cared for all her students."
A relentless grader of student homework, Bobbye put those skills to work in retirement, editing the draft of a book by one of her sons. When the manuscript arrived in a large box, thousands of pages printed in huge type for her to be able to see, she spotted on the first page a pair of sentences separated by only one space. In her day, the style manuals insisted on two spaces. She marked the error with a proofreading mark, adding a second space. Then she marked it between every pair of sentences for 3,000 more pages.
She was born Robbye Jeannette Griswold outside Morrison, Tn., in Warren County, on November 13, 1928, daughter of Winfred Anderson Griswold and Thelma Snipes Griswold.
After receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees from George Peabody College in Nashville, she taught for two years in Davidson County, then at Chattanooga's Northside Junior High School from 1954 to 1960. Starting at Red Bank High in 1961, with three children of her own, she also taught night classes at Kirkman Technical High School, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Chattanooga State Community College.
In 1948, she married Harold C. Dedman, who became a Chattanooga attorney. He died in January 1994. She married William E. "Bill" Schroeder, a retired Bell South electrical engineer and scoutmaster, in December 1995. He died in 2007. Mr. Dedman and Mr. Schroeder were decorated veterans of the U.S. Army in World War II.
At Red Bank High she advised the student council, chaperoned students at state conventions, organized a state Junior Miss pageant, and often invited students to her home across the street from the school for refreshments.
She was state president from 1976 to 1978 of Alpha Delta Kappa, an honorary sorority for educators, overlapping with her term as president of the Tennessee Business Education Association. Working to keep the state's teachers in touch with one another, she told a newspaper interviewer that her family described her main hobby as "talking on the telephone."
She was selected in 1985 for the state's first class of "master teachers." Her peers chose her the state's outstanding business educator in 1990.
She served as president of civic organizations, including the Red Bank Jaycee Women and Red Bank Lioness Club.
She was an active member of Red Bank United Methodist Church and its Carver-Tarwater Sunday school class.
She played bridge for many years with a group of couples in Red Bank. In retirement she traveled to China, the Middle East, and Europe, and rode a mule into the Grand Canyon.
When her eyesight began to fail, she turned to storytelling, participating in the Cleveland Storytelling Guild and the Chattanooga Storytelling Circle.
She was preceded in death by her eldest son, James C. Dedman, in 1998.
Survivors include two sisters, Catherine Foreman of Manchester, Tennessee, and Nancy Ware of Morrison, Tennessee; two sons, Scott Dedman (Karen Ledwith) of Asheville, North Carolina, and Bill Dedman (Pam Belluck) of Weston, Connecticut; two stepchildren, Linda Schroeder Johnston (James Johnston) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and William E. "Bill" Schroeder Jr. (Shi Yi Schroeder) of Norcross, Georgia; eight grandchildren, Jamie Dedman, Jesse Dedman, Justin Dedman, Ben Dedman, David Dedman, Matthew "Matt" Dedman, Arielle Belluck and Jillian Belluck; seven stepgrandchildren, Chrissy Olson, Nancy Johnston Isaac, Robert Johnston, William "Will" Johnston, Amy Johnston, Margaret "Meg" Johnston, and Reesa Schroeder; six great-grandchildren: Andrew, Juliana, Marcos, Nicolas, Norah, and Maddux; and five stepgreat-grandchildren, Mary, Edie, Emma, Omega, and Cornelius.
A memorial service will be scheduled. Honoring her request, her body was donated to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Later she will be buried at Chattanooga Memorial Park in Red Bank.
The family thanks her caregivers at her family home and at The Terrace at Mountain Creek, Elmcroft of Shallowford, and Hearth Hospice.
Memorial donations may be made to Red Bank High School Student Council, rbh.hcde.org; Public Education Foundation, which supports local schools and teachers, www.pefchattanooga.org; and Red Bank United Methodist Church, www.rbumc.org.
Please share your memories at www.lanefh.com.
Arrangements are by Lane Funeral Home – 601 Ashland Terrace, Chattanooga, Tn. 37415, 423 877-3524, Lanefh.com.