WEST UNITY, Ohio - Helen M. Beatty, a teacher in Fulton and Williams counties during a 36-year career, died Wednesday in Fairlawn Haven, Archbold, Ohio, where she lived the last seven years.
She celebrated her 101st birthday on Nov. 3.
The cause of death was not known, although congestive heart failure might have been a factor, her daughter-in-law, Beverly Mann, said.
Mrs. Beatty lived in her own West Unity home until she was 94.
"Grandma was a very determined, independent woman," Mrs. Mann said.
At least 100 people attended her 100th birthday party, from members of her large extended family to former students.
Mrs. Beatty still recognized her students, in later years by voice even if she couldn't see them, said Judy Smucker Kaufmann, a student in the late 1950s for third through sixth grades.
"She remembered all her students and was interested in what they were doing and was cheered by their accomplishments," Mrs. Kaufmann said.
She grew up on the family farmstead near West Unity. She lived with her Grandmother Misel in town to attend West Unity High School, of which she was a 1925 graduate.
She received her two-year teacher's training at what is now Bowling Green State University.
She'd been a good student, so she went to Bowling Green with the thought that she would enjoy being a teacher.
"She certainly did," Mrs. Mann said. "It was her mission, her whole life. Teaching was the one thing she really, really enjoyed."
She began in the one-room Zone School, part of the district in Fulton County's Gorham Township, Mrs. Mann said. She made $850 the first year - $50 more than if she hadn't come to school early to get the stove going and stayed to clean up.
She later taught in the West Unity school district in Williams County and was on the board of education there.
She taught 22 years at Elmira School and finished her career in the Archbold Area Local Schools, which absorbed the Elmira district through consolidation. She retired in 1972.
Mrs. Beatty liked teaching older elementary students, especially those in grades four through six.
"Grandma liked to have kids become independent," Mrs. Mann said. "She enjoyed pushing them, to tell you the truth, in the right direction, not to baby them.
"She was good at challenging the kids to do their very best," Mrs. Mann said. "She really did have a gift."
Mrs. Kaufmann said she was inspired by Mrs. Beatty's teaching. "She never put anyone down. She saw the positive and the potential in everyone," Mrs. Kaufmann said. "It was a great education."
Mrs. Beatty knew that competition inspired too, and she had her classes play spelling baseball - teams that spelled a word correctly advanced a base. And she had a challenge for each class: If everyone got 100 percent on their spelling tests, she'd jump over her desk.
One year, her student spellers came through, Mrs. Kaufmann recalled. Anticipation was high.
"Lo and behold, out of her desk drawer, she pulled this little toy desk, and she indeed jumped over it," Mrs. Kaufmann said. "It was fun, and we all clapped."
She liked to travel and was a member of West United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women.
She was formerly married to the late Leland Mann. She married Harry Beatty in the mid-1940s, and he died about 18 months later, her daughter-in-law said.
Surviving are her son, C. Richard Mann; two granddaughters, and two great-granddaughters.
Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Orr Funeral Home, West Unity, where the body will be after 5 p.m. today.
The family suggests tributes to West Unity United Methodist Church or Quadco Senior Activity Fund in Stryker, Ohio.
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