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Published: Wednesday, 11/20/2002

Teacher was active volunteer

Mary Kathryn Osterhage, 85, a former teacher at Immaculate Conception and St. Patrick of Heatherdowns schools who volunteered at St. Patrick's for many years after leaving the classroom, died Monday in St. Francis Hospital, Memphis.

Mrs. Osterhage died of multiple organ failure, family members said. She and her husband, Vincent, moved from their Greenlawn Court home in South Toledo to Memphis, where daughter Mary Ann Shea lives, in August because of health problems Mr. Osterhage was experiencing.

Born Mary Kathryn Monroe, Mrs. Osterhage graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1935 and DeSales College, Toledo, in 1940. She met Mr. Osterhage in college, and they married after his graduation from DeSales in 1942.

Mrs. Shea said her father went into military service shortly thereafter, leaving Mrs. Osterhage home alone when their oldest child, son Joseph, was born.

“Like all the World War II brides, she made do,” Mrs. Shea said, noting that word of his son's birth actually reached her father later than a follow-up note informing him that the infant's health had improved after an initial problem.

Mrs. Osterhage began teaching at Immaculate Conception in the mid-1950s, after her daughters were old enough to look after themselves. Mrs. Shea said her mother started out team teaching a first-grade class of 60 pupils with another teacher, and followed that class to the second and third grades. In the third grade, she had to teach the entire class by herself. “It took a lot of discipline,” Mrs. Shea said.

While the big class moved on, Mrs. Osterhage stayed with the third grade thereafter. She moved to St. Patrick's around 1965, also to teach third grade.

Mrs. Shea said her mother quit teaching in 1975 when her own mother's health began to fail and she moved in with the Osterhages. But Mrs. Osterhage remained active as a volunteer at St. Patrick's, where she and her husband had become charter parishioners during the late 1950s. She proofread the parish newsletter, sang in the choir, worked on capital fund-raisers, and led envelope-stuffing groups.

Mrs. Osterhage also was busy as a seamstress, once making a suit for her husband, matching Easter outfits for her grandchildren, and other clothes for the rest of the family. In recent years, she had made handcloths to distribute to neighbors and church and hospital staff, and also baked fudge for friends.

“They were grandma and grandpa to everybody in the neighborhood,” Mrs. Shea said.

Surviving are her husband of 60 years, Vincent; son, Joseph; daughters, Mary Ann Shea and Kathryn Carpeaux; eight grandchildren, and eight step-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Coyle Funeral Home after 2 p.m. tomorrow, with a recitation of the Rosary at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Church.

The family requests tributes to the church.



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