PIQUA — JoJo Marrs, longtime administrative employee for Piqua City Schools, recently retired after nearly 30 years with the district.
Marrs began her career in 1992 as the Piqua High School attendance secretary. She worked in this role for three years before serving as the high school financial secretary.
According to Marrs, eight years ago, the role of athletic secretary was added to her job description.
“I did both of those jobs until last school year, at which time they hired someone to take over the PHS stuff and I became solely the athletic secretary,” she said.
As athletic secretary, Marrs was responsible for communicating with the coaches, scheduling buses, handling transportation, planning senior nights, award banquets and senior pictures, and handling the overall finances of the athletic department.
“I loved it,” she said. “The decision to retire was the hardest I’ve ever made. I loved the people that I worked with and I loved the kids; they kept me young.”
Marrs, 67, is a Piqua native. She graduated from PHS in 1970, where she and her husband, Jeff, met.
“We’re high school sweethearts,” she said.
Jeff and JoJo went on to have two children, A.J. and Brett, and now have nine grandchildren. Jeff, a retired Piqua police officer, now delivers flowers for Genell’s.
“My husband wanted me to retire a couple years ago, but I kept saying no,” Marrs said. “Everyone says you’ll know when the time is right and it’s been talking to me for a couple of years, and I’ve been ignoring it, but I’ve just decided I better do it now.”
While she said the decision to leave her beloved career at PHS was not easy, Marrs said she’s found good reason for it.
“I’ve lost three friends who just turned 70, and they died suddenly,” she said. “I thought, ‘I can’t get that time back,’ and (Jeff) and I have things we want to do.”
Another reason, Marrs said, has to do with the ever-developing technology being implemented in schools — as in many other areas and fields today.
“Things are kind of changing; they’re going to online stuff and I don’t know that I want to learn that, and you know, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” she said. “So, I’m thinking maybe it’s time for me to go so they can get someone younger who can come in and go forth with it full steam.”
With such a long career at PHS, it’s no surprise that Marrs will be deeply missed by those who worked with her, along with the students she worked for, all of whom made sure she was given an appropriate send-off.
“When I got back to school on the first day in January, there was a pot of flowers given to me and I was told there would be a prize for me every day until I retire,” she said. “It was very humbling. The notes that people wrote meant even more to me than the gifts; they made me realize why I did the job. I did it to make a difference in kids’ lives and to help people. When they wrote those notes, that’s when I realized maybe I did make a difference.”
Along with gifts and notes, Marrs said she was most touched by the show choir, which planned a surpise performance in her honor. The group gathered around Marrs and sang several songs, including the school’s alma mater.
“I became a basket case at that point,” she said. “This was where I graduated from, where my kids graduated from, and where my grandkids will graduate from, so it made me really sad, but also made me feel good that they thought to do that. I think I touched people’s lives and that’s exactly why I did the job.”
Marrs said plans for retirement include re-organizing, prepping for her upcoming 50th high school reunion, and traveling with family, which will begin with a trip to Cancun at the end of the month.
“Life’s short,” she said. “I can’t keep postponing things; I’ve got to start doing them.”