Compared to his lifetime of public service, the retirement of former State Rep. Dr. John Forgety (R-Athens) is relatively recent.
Though Forgety officially retired from his seat as representative of the Tennessee’s 23rd House District in November, he is still civically involved and celebrated in the community.
“I am absolutely honored and humbled by the support, congratulations and thank yous I have received,” Forgety said of the kindness he has experienced since his retirement announcement.
Subsequently, he shared his thoughts on retiring.
“It has been a wonderful ride to hopefully leave the world a better place than you found it,” he said. “Hopefully you’ve made a difference, you’ve touched people’s lives.”
On Sunday, First Baptist Church of Etowah held a reception in honor of his eight years of elected service to the district and State of Tennessee. To Forgety, the fact that his “church family” and many others “took time on a beautiful Sunday” for him was truly humbling, he said.
He also commented on the number of former colleagues, students and educational mentors present during that event, highlighting that it was meaningful to have those in attendance whom he knows through his tenure with the McMinn County School System.
Prior to becoming a legislator, Forgety’s career in public education spanned the roles of teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, director of McMinn County Schools and, at one point, he worked as a consultant for Tennessee’s Department of Education.
“It was truly an honor to have been involved in the (local) school system since 1972,” Forgety reflected.
While Forgety invested most of his life in public education, it is still only one facet in his portfolio of public service, which includes military service.
Originally trained as a United States Marine, Forgety joined the Tennessee Army National Guard at nearly 40 – and at age 58, he deployed for combat during the Iraq War.
“I enjoyed being a soldier,” said Forgety. “It is indeed a privilege to wear the uniform and serve the people of the United States of America – and defend blessings that we sometimes take for granted.”
To Forgety, public service has been “truly very humbling.”
Although this weekend marked the latest ceremony in his honor, as an Athens Kiwanis Club member, the civic group organized a surprise gathering for Forgety before he formally retired.
Though he no longer serves constituents in the General Assembly, civically, he remains active in the local Kiwanis club, on the Board of Directors at Hiwassee College, and again this year, he helped lead the live auction at the annual Athens Area Council for the Arts Gala.
Incidentally, Forgety spoke about how he hopes to embody a famous motto attributed to John Wesley, whom he called a “personal hero.”
That quote, he said - "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can" – is as important to him today as it was when he initially campaigned to be a local representative in 2010.
Still, in his retirement, Forgety is enjoying certain aspects of his life that he now has more time to relish, like farming. “I enjoy piddling on the farm,” he said. “It’s therapy – it really is.”
He is also delighted to be able to spend more time with his wife, Faye, whom he has been married to since 1986.
“Since retiring, Faye and I have had the opportunity to travel a little and we’re going to do some more of that,” Forgety said.
Forgety’s education career began in 1968 in Fayette, Ga., before he moved to McMinn County in the early 1970s. He has a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education, both his master’s and educational specialist degrees are in education administration and supervision and a doctorate in education leadership.
Forgety and his wife have two children and four grandchildren.