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Published: Wednesday, 11/1/2006

Kindergarten teacher liked preparing her students

Desdemona B. Mathis, 87, a teacher who dedicated her career to preparing kindergartners for the years of school ahead, died on Oct. 24 in University Medical Center from complications of two strokes.

She retired in 1985 from Ella P. Stewart Elementary School after 31 years teaching kindergarten in the Toledo Public Schools. She also taught at Gunckel School.

"Her thought was she always wanted to get them at the beginning, before they had a chance to learn things that weren't good for them," her daughter, Charlotte M. Johnson, said.

Teachers of later grades reported to Mrs. Mathis that her former students were well prepared. But it was only years later, as former students introduced themselves when she was out, that "she could see the results of what she had done," her daughter said, "and realize that she had done a good job and that things had worked out well."

Mrs. Mathis was a graduate of Libbey High School and received a bachelor's degree in education from Tillotson College in Austin, Texas. She received a master's degree in education from the University of Toledo.

She was a member of Masonic, service, and women's groups. She enjoyed travel, whether touring Japan with her sister Annette Lee, visiting her daughter in Massachusetts, or cruising the Caribbean.

She was a member of Payne Memorial AME Church.

She and her husband, Charles, married in 1943. He died in 1979.

Surviving are her daughter, Charlotte M. Johnson; sisters, Annette Lee, Sarah Murray, and Helen Cunningham; brothers, Henry, Walter, Jr., Emerson, and Eugene Ballard; one granddaughter; and one great-grandson.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday in the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home, with a Delta Sigma Theta sorority service at 6:30 p.m., an Eastern Star service at 7:30 p.m., and a Top Ladies of Distinction service at 8 p.m. Friday in the mortuary. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday in Warren AME Church, of which she was a former member.

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