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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2007

Native of Custar became Central home ec teacher

Sister Mary Martina Berres, 90, whose teaching career spanned more than 50 years in schools throughout northwest Ohio, died Sunday in the Ursuline Center nursing home in West Toledo.

The cause of death was not known.

Sister Berres retired as a home economics teacher from Central Catholic High School in Toledo in the early 1990s while in her 70s.

She had taught home economics at the school since about 1958, after arriving from the former St. Gerard School in Lima, Ohio, recalled Sister Kathleen Padden, a former colleague at both Central Catholic and St. Gerard and a fellow member of the Ursuline Convent of the Sacred Heart.

At Central Catholic, Sister Berres started a popular course for boys in the 1970s called "bachelor living."

The class focused on the skills that students would need once they left home after graduation, such as cooking, basic sewing, and how to budget money, Sister Padden said.

"It taught skills of being on your own," she said.

Sister Berres also was known for classroom rules that ensured her students paid attention, particularly when it came time to learn baking. "They all had to eat what they made," Sister Padden said.

Sister Berres was born in 1916 in Custar, Ohio, and followed an aunt and an older sister, Helen Marie Berres, into the sisterhood.

She entered the Ursuline community in 1937 from St. Louis Catholic Church in Custar, and five years later professed her final vows.

Her teaching career began in 1938 at Rosary Cathedral Elementary School in Toledo. She went on to another elementary school in the city, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, before teaching home economics at Calvert High School in Tiffin.

Sister Berres arrived at St. Gerard in Lima during the early 1950s, and she lived with Sister Padden and 14 other sisters in a convent there.

"In Lima, we did all the cooking," Sister Padden recalled, "and it was always a pleasure to see [Sister Berres] in the kitchen.

"No matter what she cooked, it was delicious. She could make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich look good," Sister Padden added.

Sister Berres received a bachelor's degree from the former Mary Manse College in Toledo. She later received a master's degree in education from St. Louis University.

She had resided at the Ursuline Center on Indian Road since retirement.Surviving is her sister, Dolores Meng.

Visitation will be after 3 p.m. today in the Ursuline Center, 4035 Indian Rd., followed by a prayer service at 7 tonight in the center's chapel. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in the chapel. The Coyle Funeral Home is handling arrangements. It is suggested that tributes be to the Ursuline Convent of the Sacred Heart retirement fund.



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