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Published: Saturday, 4/19/2008

Ida home ec, English teacher also coached

IDA, Mich. - Margaret Donahoe, 80, who taught English and home economics to Ida seventh and eighth graders for 32 years, died Wednesday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township, from complications of cancer.

She retired in 1982.

As an Eastern Michigan University student, she majored in home economics and had a minor in English. At Ida, she taught home economics - boys could take the class from the late 1950s on - and seventh-grade English.

"Plus she was Ida's first girls basketball coach for the high school," said her son, Jeffrey, who teaches American history at Ida Middle School.

"She also was the cheerleading adviser for 25 years, anyway, of her 32 years. She was a remarkable lady."

Spanking was still allowed in schools when she started, but she found another way.

"She was so nonthreatening," said her son, who was an English and home ec student of hers. "That didn't mean she didn't have discipline. She had probably the best discipline in school.

"Her technique was keeping kids busy," he said. "She went out of her way to keep the kids interested and was able to turn that into academic success. The kids who had her laughed a lot. They had fun. At the same time, we were learning. She could make you laugh teaching a lesson about adjectives."

She also studied drama at Eastern Michigan, and that background helped as she planned Ida pep rallies.

In retirement, she made a point of attending her grandsons' sports events.

"She thought she needed to go one step further, being the home ec teacher she was," her son said. "She decided the boys [basketball team] didn't need to be going to the fast-food joints after school and before games."

She invited the team over to her son's - he has more room - and she cooked for them.

"She did that game after game," her son said.

When she became ill, the team signed a basketball for her. "It was very touching," her son said.

Mrs. Donahoe grew up in Livingtson County, Michigan, and was a graduate of Howell High School.

She was a member of Ida United Methodist Church.

Surviving are her husband, Thomas, whom she married April 12, 1952; son, Jeffrey; sisters, Helen Hart and Janet Jankowiak, and two grandsons.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in Ida United Methodist Church, where the body will be after 10 a.m. today. Arrangements are by the Capaul Funeral Home, Ida.

The family suggests tributes to the Monroe County Program for Children with Hearing Impairment, the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or Ida United Methodist Church.

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