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Published: Tuesday, 8/10/2004

Elementary teacher traveled the world

Mary Cathryn Ford, 87, a long-time kindergarten teacher, died Sunday at Flower Hospital.

She had been hospitalized for several weeks after a back injury and had a stroke on Thursday, her husband, Richard Ford, said.

Mrs. Ford taught kindergarten at Riverside Elementary for more than 20 years, beginning in the 1940s.

"She was wonderful," said Jim Skelding, one of her students in 1956. "[She was] warm and caring, and made school exciting and interesting and fun."

Mr. Skelding, now an assistant principal at Springfield Middle School, said Mrs. Ford is one of the reasons he went into education. He said she liked to try new things, and once brought in an old hand-crank butter churn so the class could make butter.

"She enjoyed every minute of life, and enjoyed people so much that she always made you feel good," said Mr. Skelding.

For seven years after she taught at Riverside, Mrs. Ford worked on the Toledo Board of Education's Parent Aide Program, training parents of underprivileged children to be teacher's aides in the classrooms. At the same time, she taught education at Adrian College.

Mrs. Ford retired in 1977.

She was born Mary Reeg in Findlay, May 26, 1917, and moved to Toledo when she was 5.

She graduated from DeVilbiss High School in 1935, received a bachelor's degree in secondary education from the University of Toledo in 1940, and married Mr. Ford later that year.

She taught at DeVilbiss for a year, then studied primary education at the University of Michigan, receiving a master's degree in 1946.

"She liked the little kids better," her husband said.

While attending graduate school, Mrs. Ford operated a private kindergarten in Toledo. She often took her baby to class, her husband said.

She was a charter member of the Alpha Iota Chapter of a teacher's honorary sorority, Alpha Delta Kappa, and served as president and northwest Ohio district chairman.

She attended Calvary United Methodist Church since age 5, sang in the choir, and served on many committees. She was currently chair of the church's hospital guild.

"She did everything you can think of, including cleaning it," Mr. Ford said.

An inquisitive woman, she enjoyed traveling the world, beginning with a nine-week trip to Europe in 1959. The Fords made several trips to China, Africa, and Europe, Mr. Ford said.

"There's very few places we haven't been," he said.

Surviving are her husband, Richard; daughter, Margaret Ball; brother, Cloyd P. Reeg, and a grandson.

Services will be held at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Walker Funeral Home, following visitation there at 1 p.m.

The family suggests tributes to the church.

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