Sister act logs several lifetimes of University se...

Sister act logs several lifetimes of University service

MTSU's Roach sisters, with a combined 138 years-plus of service to MTSU, take a seat in Walnut Grove. From left are Frances Roach Rich, Betty Roach Smithson and Martha Roach Turner. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

One hundred and thirty-eight and counting. That’s how many combined years the Roach sisters of Woodbury have worked at MTSU.

Youngest sister Betty Roach Smithson is the only sister still working on campus. Entering her 46th year in the Office of Student Affairs, Smithson has worked closely since 1965 with student groups, fraternities, cheerleaders and student government work­ers.

Eldest sister Martha Roach Turner began the sisters’ streak in 1958, taking a secretarial position in the Field Services Depart­ment. She later became director of placement (now the Career Center) for the University, growing the office to a staff of 10 before retiring in 2007 after 48 years of service.

When Turner took a brief sabbatical from MTSU in 1960, she referred her sister Frances Roach Rich to be her replacement. That began Rich’s 45-year run at MTSU, mostly spent in student affairs and ending in MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee’s office in 2010.

Asked what’s changed about MTSU in the past half century, the sisters point to the University’s growth in physical size and academic offerings.

What hasn’t changed?

“Us,” Turner says.

The story of the Roach sisters’ service to MTSU appears in the August edition of MTSU Magazine. It’s distributed twice annually to more than 96,000 alumni readers. Additional copies of the alumni-and-friends publication are distributed to interested stakeholders, including MTSU faculty and staff, state lawmakers and members of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

The magazine also is available online at The magazine, re-launched in April, is part of a recent reformatting of MTSU communications’ efforts.

— Drew Ruble (