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Published: Wednesday, 4/27/2005

Ex-teacher was driven to improve others' lives

Josephine Bester, who taught primary-grade youngsters for more than 35 years, died Friday in Clarkson Memorial Hospital, Omaha, from complications of kidney failure. She was 78.

Mrs. Bester moved from South Toledo 20 months ago to be near her son Michael.

She retired in the late 1980s from Washington Elementary School, where she taught first grade. For three years in the early 1980s, Mrs. Bester oversaw new teachers in Toledo Public Schools. In 1985, she was named educator of the year by the northwest Ohio district of the state Parent Teacher Association.

She had "an intrinsic drive to better people's lives and to see people mature, grow, especially intellectually. She had a gift," her son Michael said.

Mrs. Bester took part in several ministries at St. Jude Church, where she was a longtime member. She was a member of the Diocese of Toledo's Black Lay Catholic Leadership Caucus and the Catholic Interracial Council.

She was born in Chicago and grew up in Toledo. She was a graduate of Scott High School and had three degrees from the University of Toledo.

She was a board member of the Toledo Federation of Teachers and the Zepf Community Mental Health Center. She belonged to several social and professional women's organizations.

"There was a sense of naivete and a coyness about her," her son said. "My mother was very feisty. The exterior didn't tell you that. She had a huge amount of integrity. She didn't have wealth, but she really gave financially with what she had."

She and her husband, Raymond, married June 18, 1948. He died Jan. 3, 1992.

Surviving are her sons, Michael, Douglas, and Jeffrey; brother, Stewart Toadvin; three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation will begin at 4 p.m. tomorrow in the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home, with wake services beginning at 6 p.m. and Delta Sigma Theta Omega Omega services at 7 p.m. in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Jude Church.

The family suggests tributes to the Josephine Bester Memorial Scholarship Fund.

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