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Published: Monday, 10/31/2005

Teacher kept in contact with former students

GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio- Luella Sterling, 87, a longtime teacher who was known for her letter-writing to many of her former elementary school students, died Saturday in the Woodhaven Health Care Center, Bowling Green, from complications of kidney failure.

Ms. Sterling, who started her teaching career in a one-room school near Wauseon in 1939, taught in schools in Neapolis, Grand Rapids, and in Toledo before retiring in 1974.

She taught fourth grade math, science, social studies, and language arts, said Norma Roberts, a longtime family friend who also taught with her at Grand Rapids Elementary School.

"She had a great sense of humor, and she was always telling jokes," Mrs. Roberts recalled. "She loved being with children and particularly enjoyed making bulletin boards."

Born on the family farm, Ms. Sterling attended public schools and graduated from Grand Rapids High School in 1936.

The daughter of a former Grand Rapids mayor, she was raised on the family's grain farm. She received her bachelor's degree in education from Bowling Green State University.

She had a close relationship with her students, and she wrote many letters and sent Christmas cards to many of her former students, said Marjeanne Taulbee, her niece.

Ms. Sterlin was an avid florist and cake decorator.

She spent most of her free time in the garden, writing, or baking cakes for decoration, her niece said.

A longtime member of First Christian Church in Bowling Green, Ms. Sterling was a member of the Grand Rapids chapter of the Order of Eastern Star since 1936.

She was named the worthy matron in 1946, and in 1972 she was elected the president of the OES District 6 chapter.

She was also a member of the Grand Rapids Historical Society and the Fulton County and Ohio Retired Teachers' associations.

Surviving is her niece, Marjeanne Taulbee, and a nephew, Carl Meyer.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. tomorrow in the Wright Funeral Home, with an Eastern Star service at 7 p.m.

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in the funeral home.

The family suggests tributes to First Christian Church, Bowling Green.

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