Few people have been in the Danville school system quite as long as Mary Meaux. Meaux began her career as a cafeteria worker at the age of 26 at Mary G. Hogsett Elementary School, which had been open only about six years. She had one son, who was barely 9 months old at the time. He is now 47 and the oldest of her four living children.
Initially, Meaux retired after 35 years, and that break lasted almost two years. She came back to cover for a woman who had dislocated a shoulder and says, “I’ve been back ever since.”
Cafeteria manager Patty Taylor has worked with Meaux through eight principals.
“I was here without her like one year. There was just something missing,” says Taylor.
Taylor compares the staff to working like a recipe and says that year they “left out one of the spices.”
In her almost 46 years at Hogsett, Meaux says, “I’ve seen them come, and I’ve seen them go.”
Most of all, they’ve seen her.
“When they (the superintendents) come in the school, they just gravitate to Mary,” Taylor says, laughing. “She’s the Mary behind Mary Hogsett.”
Meaux says the students and staff are “just like a family. If one is hurting, then everybody seems like they’re hurting.”
Taylor agrees and adds, “Every family has to have a momma, and she’s our mom.”
For some, especially students in the classes with her grandchildren, Meaux eventually became their granny, too.
“When they (her grandchildren) would go through here and they would call her Granny, then other kids would pick it up and before you know it they would be calling her Granny, too,” Taylor says.
With three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, Meaux has had plenty of practice at being a grandma.
She is proud of the accomplishments of her children, Micheal, Belinda, Travis and Sam Jr., who is the principal at Tates Creek High School; and of her grandchildren, including grandson Lamar Dawson, a former Boyle County football player who now plays for the University of Southern California.
Some of her plans, when she finally retires, will be to spend time with those grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and possibly go to California to watch Dawson play and see some of her family living there.
Mostly, Meaux, who is 73, says, “I’ve done all I care to do.”
She has traveled all over the world, visiting places such as Italy, Jerusalem and London, and traveling in the U.S. to Hawaii, Alaska and New York, for starters. “I love it,” she says but expects that she will not be doing much more long-distance traveling.
Meaux attends First Baptist Church of Danville and says she always willing to travel to family functions.
“If someone says ‘let’s,’ I’m ready to go,” she says, laughing, “especially if they have something to eat.”
Her official second retirement date has yet to be determined.