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Published: Monday, 8/29/2005

Teacher was an active volunteer after retiring

BOWLING GREEN - Winifred W. Warner, who taught in several Wood County school districts and then retired to a long second career as a community volunteer, died Thursday in the Wood Haven Health Care nursing home. She was 100.

After retiring as a teacher in the early 1960s, Mrs. Warner became a "gray lady" at Wood County Hospital, a volunteer position she held for 32 years. As a volunteer, she delivered mail, sat at the hospital's reception desk, and performed other tasks.

In 1969, Mrs. Warner helped found the Friends of Wood Lane, a volunteer society at the school for developmentally disabled children. As a Wood Lane volunteer, she led a group that collected coupons, soup can labels, and other items to take advantage of product discounts and giveaways.

"I remember once she collected 10,000 Pepsi caps to get sports equipment," her daughter, Joanna Stark, recalled with a laugh. "I never want to count another Pepsi cap."

Mrs. Warner, who kept up her volunteer work until about 10 years ago, firmly believed in giving back to the community.

"I think she felt that you're here on earth to do something good to make a difference," Mrs. Stark said. "That's what she told us. She was a good wife, a good mother, a great grandmother, and a great volunteer."

Mrs. Warner was born April 9, 1905, in Angola, Ind., to Weir and Merle Wood.

The family moved to Wood County, where Mrs. Wood's parents had a farm, when Mrs. Warner was in junior high school. Mrs. Warner graduated from Liberty Township High School in 1921 and enrolled at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. Before completing her degree, however, she moved back to Wood County and went to work as a teacher. Her early jobs included posts in the Hammansburg and Scotch Ridge schools.

She became romantically involved with Forrest Warner, a teacher who was a boarder at her parents' home, and the couple eloped, Mrs. Stark said. They were married March 13, 1926.

Because only single women were generally allowed to work as teachers at the time, the Warners "were afraid she would lose her job if [the school] found out she was married. And she did lose her job," Mrs. Stark said. "But she did help Dad finish up at Bowling Green."

Mrs. Warner later finished her bachelor's degree at Kansas State by correspondence in 1935 and returned to teaching in the 1950s, after her children were born, at schools in Bradner, Milton, and Tontogany.

Mrs. Warner and her husband moved to a farm on Greensburg Pike in Portage in 1942. There, the couple enjoyed raising standard-bred horses, which they entered in numerous harness races at tracks in Ohio and Michigan. Mr. Warner died March 8, 1980.

Mrs. Warner lived at the farm until 2001, when she moved to Wood Haven, her daughter said.

Surviving are her sons, David Michael and Robert; daughter, Joanna Stark; 11 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Rudolph Christian Church. The family requests tributes to Wood Lane School.



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