Honoring honor and integrity
Friends, former students praise Ira and Allarea Black

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Dec. 10, 2004 -- Ira Black, this is your life, could well have been the theme of an Agricultural Workers Mutual Auto Insurance Company appreciation dinner Thursday evening.

The dinner was held in recognition of his lifetime of dedication to agriculture, as well as being one of the original investors in an insurance company created to make insurance more economical for ag-related workers.

During his more than 30 years teaching agriculture, Ira Black was a positive influence on many lives, and many of those former students, as well as life-long friends, were called on to share their experiences.

Among those speaking was Jay Eudy, who drove the almost 500 miles from his home in Levelland to share memories with his "best friend."

Others spoke of Black's quiet, straight forward manner, his honor and integrity. Those traits, they said, led them to successes in life far beyond their expectations.

One common thought from all those speaking was that Ira Black was their friend.

Mr. Black and his wife Allarea, also a longtime educator, were among the original investors of Agricultural Workers Mutual Auto Insurance Company when, in 1948, they invested $1,000 in the company.

Marcus Hill is president of the insurance company and attributes much of his success in life to things he learned from Black.

Clemons Montgomery, chairman of the board of directors for the insurance company, told of looking through the distinguished list of names of agriculture teachers who made the initial investment to create the insurance company.

Beside each of those names was the amount invested. The list, Montgomery said, showed many $100 investments, but one from Ira Black in the amount of $1,000.

The chairman said he questioned how Black could make such a large investment when he was only earning $3,200 a year as a vocational agriculture teacher.

"Ira said it was not his money," Montgomery said. "It was Allarea's."

Allarea Black, while her husband was teaching ag classes, taught homemaking classes which later became home economics classes that continued to evolve to more fully address that aspect of agricultural life.

Montgomery said he wanted to make sure Mrs. Black was repaid for the investment and presented her with a giant check, made out for $1,000.

Other gifts presented to Ira and Allarea Black included a proclamation by Hopkins County Commissioners Court designating Thursday as Ira and Allarea Black Day, a letter of congratulations from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a flag that was flown over the capitol, and a set of towels from the governor's mansion.

The Blacks, who have have been married for 54 years, have two children, Nancy Black Perkins of Atlanta, Ga., and Dr. David Black of Sulphur Springs. They also have two grandchildren, Kaylene and Kaytlin Black. Since their retirement in 1985, they have traveled to all parts of the world.

Ira Black continues to be vitally interested in the agricultural industry and is an active member of Sulphur Springs Golden K Kiwanis Club.

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