longtime co-chair on the committee. Roberts, a past
MTA president and active unionist for more than 70
years, died in September at the age of 103. Many at
the gathering signed a condolence book that will be
given to Roberts’ family, and an MTA documentary,
“Kind Kay,” was shown.
MTA leaders also addressed the gathering,
acknowledging all that the retirees have done to
build their union.
This is a crucial time to share wisdom with
current members as the labor movement comes
under attack, said MTA President Barbara
“As elders of the education and labor
movements, you have experiences others do not
have, and we need that knowledge,” Madeloni said.
She drew a comparison between the victory at
the ballot box last fall that kept the cap on charter
schools and the role that the MTA and other unions
played in preserving prevailing-wage laws 30 years
ago. “It’s not about getting one win and then it’s
over. It’s a way to live,” she said.
MTA Vice President Erik J. Champy told the
retirees that they “set the tone for what it means to be
brothers and sisters in an association.”
“You have shown us the value of standing
shoulder to shoulder to fight for the issues
important to our students, our colleagues and our
communities,” he added.
Continued from Page 15
Gathering focuses on retirees’ contributions to public education
“She was really very grateful for what the MTA
did for her,” Bryant said. “She got a great deal of joy
and satisfaction from watching the MTA grow. She
was only too happy to serve.”
Mary Gilmore, like Roberts a former MTA
president, said that what stood out to her was her
good friend’s sense of humor.
Gilmore pointed to the fun that she, Roberts
and Gaskins had over the years as the three traveled
together on MTA and NEA business.
“Just taking trips back and forth with Kay was
an education,” Gilmore said. “She was a woman of
great wisdom and great wit. I think that she inspired
a lot of people. I know she inspired me.”
Her unfailing concern for others set her apart,
Gilmore added. “She was very kind to others,” she
said. “She was really very brilliant in many ways.
She really understood what people might need —
individually and collectively.”
In 2014, Roberts, Gilmore and Gaskins stood
in the spotlight at the MTA Annual Meeting as they
received the prestigious Friend of Education Award
for their years of activism.
Shortly after Roberts’ death, MTA President
Barbara Madeloni wrote in an e-mail to MTA
members: “Her courage, her generous and open heart,
and her commitment to union power will live on. I
was touched by her welcoming words when I was
elected MTA president. She greeted me as a sister in
MTA Vice President Erik J. Champy called
Roberts “one of the most extraordinary leaders that I
was privileged to call a friend.”
“Her commitment to our members and students
was unparalleled,” Champy said.
He continued, “Kathleen dedicated more than
70 years of service to ensure our success. As a
result of her leadership, the Massachusetts Teachers
Association continues to be one of the strongest state
affiliates in our nation.”
In 2013, as she was closing in on 99 years old,
Roberts was asked what advice she could give to
educators just entering the profession.
“Get right in there,” she said. “Participate
right away. Learn what you can do to help your
organization because what helps them will help you,
too. And you will meet some wonderful, wonderful
At the time, she was still volunteering for
dozens of hours a week in her community of
Raynham — some of them in the local schools,
where she would don a Cat in the Hat costume and
read to schoolchildren.
Over the years, she had served on her town’s
Council on Aging, as president of the historical
society, as a trustee of the public library and as
founder of a program providing supplemental food
assistance for the needy.
In 2012, Roberts received the Home
Instead outstanding senior volunteer award for
Massachusetts at the Raynham Senior Center.
Roberts told reporters at the event, “In my
family we all believed, and my mother believed
strongly, that you give back to your community, you
give back for all the wonderful things that you get.
You share it with others.”