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Published: Wednesday, 10/20/2004

Math teacher helped establish Elmore library

ELMORE - Helen E. "Brownie" Wendt, 94, a mathematics teacher in the Genoa and the former Harris-Elmore public school districts who helped found the public library here, died Sunday in Otterbein Portage Valley Retirement Center, Pemberville, Ohio, of complications of congestive heart failure.

She and her husband, Carl, moved to the retirement center in January, 2000. He died April 16, 2000.

Mrs. Wendt retired in the early 1970s from Genoa schools, where she taught math to junior high students.

Mrs. Wendt's classes were structured, "and she had high expectations of her students," daughter Connie Kimball said. "They could ask all the questions, and she would give them oodles of help, but she expected them to work and expected them to behave. They rose to the occasion in many instances."

Mrs. Wendt, as a young woman, intended to become a teacher. She graduated from Waite High School. She attended what is now Bowling Green State University, then the University of Michigan, where she was not allowed to walk in the front door of the Union because she was a woman. She studied history, English, and math and, after graduation, took a job teaching in Mead, Kan.

She returned to Toledo after a year. She could not find a teaching job in the Great Depression years and went to business school. She became bookkeeper for the Toledo Public Library system for about nine years.

Mrs. Wendt was a full-time mother and homemaker for the next dozen years until she took a job teaching high school bookkeeping in Genoa. She moved on to teaching math at Harris-Elmore High School before returning to Genoa to teach junior high school math. Algebra was her forte.

"She enjoyed the bookkeeping. The math was more of a love," said her daughter, also a math teacher. "She saw math as being more challenging to her and the students. There's more intrigue in math."

Mrs. Wendt was among a group of Elmore women who helped create a public library in town in the mid-1940s. Her husband was an Elmore native, and she moved there after marriage. "She couldn't see a town not having a library," her daughter said.

The founding committee had three members who worked for the Toledo Public Library, Mrs. Wendt among them. She became a longtime member of the Harris-Elmore Public Library board, and she was a clerk and bookkeeper for the library until the 1980s, her daughter said.

"She was just a lovely person," said Georgiana Huizenga, director of the Harris-Elmore district. "She always cared about the library, even in her later years. She was a library user as long as she was able."

Mrs. Wendt was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and its Ladies Aid. She was longtime secretary of the Elmore Study Club, a women's group, and was known for meeting minutes that could be read almost as an essay, Mrs. Huizenga said.

Mrs. Wendt and her husband married Feb. 23, 1935.

Surviving are her daughters, Prudence Muise and Constance Kimball; five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Oct. 31 in Trinity Lutheran Church. Arrangements are by the Crosser Mortuary, Elmore.

The family suggests tributes to the Harris-Elmore Public Library, Trinity Lutheran Church, or a charity of the donor's choice.



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