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Published: Saturday, 5/13/2006

Elementary schoolteacher enjoyed bridge, world travel

DEFIANCE - Mary J. Ensign, a retired teacher who started her career in a one-room schoolhouse in a Williams County village about 1932, died Thursday in Laurels of Defiance, where she lived for two years. She was 96.

The family did not know the cause of death.

Her teaching career spanned at least 40 years.

Mrs. Ensign retired in the early 1970s from Slocum Elementary School, Defiance, after 20 years of teaching the fourth grade.

Before that, she taught grades one through four at Brunersburg (Ohio) Elementary School in the 1940s and 1950s. "She was a very strict, old-school-type of teacher," her granddaughter, Elizabeth Bombara, said. "She was a very strong disciplinarian. Her passion was reading and math."

A native of Bryan, Mrs. Ensign, whose maiden name was Chrisman, graduated from Bryan High School in 1928.

She later got an associate's degree in education from Defiance College, taught for a time at a one-room schoolhouse near Bryan, and then received her bachelor's degree in education from Bowling Green State University.

In 1934, she married David F. Ensign. Mr. Ensign died in 1980. Their son, Larry Ensign, died in 1994.

In retirement, Mrs. Ensign enjoyed traveling in the United States, Europe, and Japan. She was also an avid bridge player.

Mrs. Ensign was a member of the Zion Lutheran Church, Defiance.

Her other memberships included the Ohio Retired Teachers Association and Defiance County Retired Teachers Association.

Surviving are her daughter, Sue VanBrackel; nine grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; and 13 great-great-grandchildren.

Services will be private. Arrangements are by the Mast-Mock-Hoffman Funeral Home, Defiance.

The family suggests tributes to Laurels of Defiance or a charity of the donor's choice.

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