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Published: Wednesday, 12/19/2007

Area teacher was veteran of 1-room schoolhouses

MONTPELIER, Ohio - Grace E. Geesey, 97, an elementary school teacher for several generations of area families, died Saturday at Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers, Bryan.

She had been seriously ill for two months and the death was a result of heart failure, said her nephew, Norman Geesey.

Mrs. Geesey began teaching in the 1930s in a succession of one-room schoolhouses a few miles south of Montpelier. In 1934 she married Lyle Geesey, co-owner of the former Geesey's Bakery in Montpelier. The marriage soon forced her to take a brief hiatus from teaching because of the Great Depression, according to her nephew.

"She had to quit teaching because they laid off all married teachers," her nephew said, relating a story that Mrs. Geesey often told relatives. "If the husband was working, then they couldn't teach until the Depression eased up."

When Mrs. Geesey returned to the classroom she continued to teach lessons for first grade through eighth-grade pupils in one-room schoolhouses until the 1950s.

She then began to teach the second grade exclusively with the opening of Superior Local School, her nephew said. Later she moved to what is now the Robert A. Storrer Elementary School in Montpelier, where she retired in 1976.

By then there were several Montpelier-area families in which a grandparent, parent, and then a child had all had Mrs. Geesey for class at some point during her teaching career, according to her nephew.

"She never had any children of her own," he said, "so she claimed that she had thousands of children."

A lifelong Montpelier resident, Mrs. Geesey was born to Lena and Albert Zeiter in 1910 as the youngest of four children. She was a 1928 graduate of Montpelier High School, and went on to receive her teaching certificate from what was then Bowling Green Normal College.

Throughout her life, she loved to learn and to read, and encouraged her nephews and nieces to develop similar habits. "At family dinners, she always had new books for me, and quizzed me on what she thought I should know," said Norman Geesey, an owner of the Wilson-Geesey Funeral Home in Montpelier.

Following retirement Mrs. Geesey and her husband enjoyed traveling throughout the country and spending the winter months in Lakeland, Fla., until his death in 1994. She cherished her independence, and lived at her home on her own until her final months.

She was also a longtime member of the Williams County Historical Society, St. John's Lutheran Church, Montpelier, and the women's book discussion group of the Montpelier Library.

She has no immediate survivors.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon today in the Wilson-Geesey Funeral Home, with the funeral to follow at 1 p.m. in St. John's Lutheran Church. Tributes are suggested to the church or to hospice care of Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers, Williams County.



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