SDRTA is a branch of ARTA, the Alberta Retired Teachers' Association, which had its beginnings in November 1963, when retired teacher associations in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge joined forces and formed ARTA.
In the early 2000s, a former Wm. E. Hay Composite High School teacher, Gerry Smith, who at the time was Executive Secretary of the Alberta Retired Teachers' Association, suggested Stettler become a Branch of ARTA. At the time, no one took him up on it.
During this time, several of our local retired teachers had attended the Red Deer Branch 'To Hell With the Bell Breakfast', but didn't know very many of the attendees so never went again. Bob Erickson had organized an annual Christmas gathering for a few years at the Club Cafe and had made suggestions that a formal retired teachers organization be set up, but there was not a lot of interest so he dropped the idea. Dave and Jen Seibel started holding a June Coffee Party for retirees at their farm. While everyone seemed happy with these social gatherings, most were not aware of the benefits of having a more formal organization.
In 2009, several local retired teachers who were active members in ARTA received letters requesting they attend a meeting at the Best Western in Stettler on May 20th. At that meeting, the Past President of ARTA, Dean McMullen, outlined the advantages of becoming a branch and at the end of the meeting asked for volunteers to look into setting up a local branch of ARTA in this region. Don Tash, Helen Ambury, Evelyn Shursen and Larry Wilson volunteered. After a couple of meetings, they decided they should apply for branch status. They then set out to get the required 25 signatures of local ARTA members on a petition that requested ARTA to establish a branch in this region, to be known as the Stettler & District Retired Teachers' Association. In all, 34 members' signatures, along with a completed application form, were sent into ARTA.
On June 17th, 2009, after ARTA had stated the application would likely be approved in September, SDRTA sold memberships for $10 to many of those who gathered at Dave & Jen Seibel's annual Retirees Coffee Party. An interim executive was set up with Larry Wilson as President, Don Tash as Vice President, Helen Ambury as Secretary-Treasurer and Evelyn Shursen as Social Convener. The first event was to be a 'TO HELL WITH the BELL BREAKFAST' on August 31st at Social Bo's in Stettler. Ninety retired teachers attended and Don Mock, Executive Secretary of ARTA, was the guest speaker. By now 57 local retired teachers had purchased SDRTA memberships.
Larry and Karyne Wilson attended both the ARTA Orientation session for new presidents in Edmonton on Sept 15th,2009 and the ARTA annual meeting on October 7th, 2009. It was at this Annual Meeting where the ARTA Board of Directors officially approved the establishment of the Stettler & District Retired Teachers' Association.
The first official function of SDRTA was a Christmas party at the Club Cafe on December 8th, 2009, a fitting tribute to Bob Erickson, who had tried for years to establish a retired teachers' group in this area.