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Published: Saturday, 2/13/2010

Area teacher excelled at motivation

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BASCOM, Ohio - Helen S. Holcomb, 94, a career educator who was a leader in women's groups and a writer, died Tuesday in Mercy Tiffin Hospital.

She was in declining health recently. She lived in the home in Seneca County's Hopewell Township where she was born.

"She was still teaching and driving a car last summer," her daughter Vanessa said.

From 1967 on, she was affiliated with St. Mary School in Tiffin. With her daughters in school, she returned to classroom and career. Teaching English and creative writing to seventh and eighth graders were her favorite assignments.

"She used to say [junior high students] were difficult individually sometimes, but together they were a joy," her daughter said. "She was so motivating, and she got as much out of it as the kids did."

The challenge suited her.

"She was the type of person who could do five things at one time," her daughter Helen said. "She could be surrounded by total chaos and enjoy what was going on."

Mrs. Holcomb was proud of her role in advising the St. Mary's Power of the Pen team, which she led to the regional and state level of the creative writing competition. In 1995, she received an award from the statewide organization.

Later, she worked in the school library, eventually as a volunteer.

She was a former president of the Seneca County Farm Women's Federation, the Hopewell Farm Women's Club, and the Bascom Garden Club. Her address to a gathering of about 1,000 while president of the Northwest Farm Bureau Women focused on putting a woman in the White House before putting a man on the moon.

"She was so ahead of her time. We're talking the early '60s," daughter Helen said.

She had a shy side. Still, she "was a very determined, focused woman who had very high expectations of her children," daughter Helen said. "She tried to find something in somebody and really build them up. I think that's why she was a great teacher."

She was a graduate of Columbian High School and Heidelberg College. Her first teaching job was in Plymouth, Ohio. Later, she taught several years at Southeastern High School in Ross County. She was a former columnist for the Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin and was a published poet.

She was a member of Union United Church of Christ, Bascom.

She and her husband, Robert, married Oct. 20, 1945. He died Nov. 16, 1990.

Surviving are her daughters, Helen Ruth Holcomb, Vanessa Jane Thomas, and Lisa Ann Woodland; sister, Lois Ludwig; nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be scheduled in the spring, family members said. Arrangements were by the Engle-Shook Funeral Home, Tiffin.

The family suggests tributes to the Seneca County Humane Society; Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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