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Published: Thursday, 2/10/2005

School cook loved playing Mrs. Claus

FLORIDA, Ohio - Mona Mae Walter, the head cook at the former Florida High School in the 1950s and 1960s and a volunteer for many years at the Country View Haven nursing home, died Monday in Henry County Hospital, Napoleon, after suffering a heart attack and stroke a day earlier. She was 94.

During her time at the high school, Mrs. Walter prepared meals for children from the elementary grades through high school, who were all housed in the same building.

She was a homemaker who liked to cook for others, Terry Walter, her grandson, said.

Mrs. Walter had a long-standing interest in the Help Our Many Elderly Society at the nursing home, a group she helped found about 1970.

With her daughter, Nancy, who is now deceased, the two hosted chicken dinners, raffles, and other fund-raisers at the nursing home to raise money for activities for patients, her grandson said.

The facility was once the Henry County Home, a county-run nursing home for the poor. The money was used to buy presents for patients at Christmas, pay for entertainment programs, and acquire supplies.

"She was unassuming and very caring," her grandson said. "She was more than happy being in the background, but always wanted to be giving and to help."

For many years, Mrs. Walter and her husband, Julius, former chief of the Florida-Flatrock Volunteer Fire Department, donned Mrs. Claus and Santa costumes, then toted treat bags filled with oranges and candy to neighbors and friends in town.

When they were too old to make the trek, they passed out the gifts from the fire station in Florida. For Christmas Eve, she prepared turkey and ham with all the trimmings for a houseful of family guests.

On New Year's Day, Mrs. Walter presented sauerkraut dinners, a traditional German meal served to mark the holiday. "It was open to almost anybody in town who wanted to come," her grandson said.

Born near Hamler, Ohio, she was a graduate of Deshler High School. Her husband died in 1986.

Seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren survive.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today in St. Peter Lutheran Church, Florida. Arrangements are by the Rodenberger Funeral Home, Napoleon.



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