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Published: Friday, 1/19/2001

Ex-teacher active in church groups

Geraldine Brown Bettinger, a teacher in Toledo Public Schools for 21 years and a devout Roman Catholic who took part in church groups, died from complications of double pneumonia Saturday in her West Toledo home. She was 87.

Mrs. Bettinger had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but had used oxygen only the last two weeks.

“It did not keep her from doing anything, really,” her son, Theron B. Brown, Jr., said. “She bowled in the last couple years. She fished.”

Mrs. Bettinger taught for 21 years in the Toledo Public Schools, 18 years at Cherry Elementary School, mostly fifth grade.

She had a keen interest in geography and science, even later in life. Her greatest satisfaction came from “teaching underachievers and the less fortunate the basics of life,” her son said. “She had a number of kids who would call her or see her and remember her from 30 years before.”

She retired in 1977.

Mrs. Bettinger grew up on a farm near Tiffin and was a graduate of Calvert High School. She was granted a scholarship to the former Mary Manse College in Toledo, from which she received a bachelor's degree.

After college, she taught third grade about four years at St. Agnes School.

She and Theron Brown married in 1940. He later would become a Toledo Municipal Court judge. He died in 1966. She and Martin Bettinger married in 1979. He died in 1995.

She left the classroom to begin a family and resumed teaching when her son, Dennis, was in seventh grade.

Mrs. Bettinger was a devout Catholic, her faith shaped by farm life and strengthened by caring for husbands as they died of cancer. She rose before dawn to attend morning Mass. She was a member of Christ the King parish and a former member of St. Catherine parish and its Rosary society.

She made three pilgrimages to Medjugorje in the former Yugoslavia, where the faithful have reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary, and she was a member of the Holy Spirit Prayer Group and the Theotokos Apostolate, groups for those who had made the journey.

Mrs. Bettinger played golf until five years ago. She traveled extensively and had visited Europe seven times, Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti. She portrayed many of the places she visited in watercolors.

She was a seamstress and made much of her own wardrobe and, when they were young, clothing for her children.

She followed sports, especially Notre Dame football, and politics closely.

“She was very positive, even after the deaths of both husbands,” her son said. “She always looked forward to what was coming in the future. She had a genuine interest in life - none of this negative stuff - and along with her religious grounding and a kind of conservatism, you'd meet her and say, `There's a good woman.'”

Surviving are her daughter, Sheila Towns; sons, Theron B. Brown, Jr., and Dennis Brown; stepson, Phillip Bettinger; seven grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

Services will be at 10 a.m. today in Christ the King Church. The Coyle Mortuary is handling arrangements.

The family requests tributes to St. Catherine Church building fund or to a charity of the donor's choice.

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