Susan Berry, who became the only thing she wanted to be when she grew up - a music teacher - died Sunday in St. Rita's Medical Center, Lima, Ohio, from complications of kidney and heart disease. She was 61.
She was in nursing care at the Baton Rouge senior community in Lima, her husband, Tim, said. Before that, with the exception of time away at college, she lived in Perrysburg.
Mrs. Berry retired in 2008 from the Bedford Public Schools, where she taught music for 38 years. Much of her career was at Smith Road Elementary School, but she was a music educator at all grade levels.
She was born Nov. 20, 1948, to Caddie and Fred Stalter and was a graduate of Perrysburg High School.
"She was interested in music from the time she was a little kid," her husband said. "Her parents had a piano. She played at home, and it went on and on." She was further encouraged by the family dachshund which, when she played and sang, jumped on the piano bench and sang beside her.
After a year at Miami University, she went to Bowling Green State University, from which she received a bachelor's degree.
She taught for a year in the Washington Local Schools and was hired by Bedford. She played french horn in the Perrysburg Symphony.
During her career "she had experience at all levels - everything from little kids' songs - 'Eensy Weensy Spider' - all the way through the big stuff you would teach high school kids," her husband said. "She did tons of musicals with the kids."
Her favorite was the children's musical Let George Do It, as in George III and Washington.
"Everything seemed to click," her husband said. "All the kids were just right. It was 1976, the bicentennial, and we were really flying. It was the one she talked about all her life."
She had a knack with children.
"She said, 'These are my kids. This is what I do,'•" her husband said. "She was one of those people who really identified with her job, more than most people I know."
She was a former vice president of the Bedford Education Association and took part in negotiations, said Colleen Jan, the union president whom Mrs. Berry prodded to be involved.
"Sue had an innate sense of right and wrong," Mrs. Jan said. "She was not one to sit still when she saw something she could have a positive influence on."
In her music society, Sigma Alpha Iota, Mrs. Berry had been president of the northwest Ohio-southeast Michigan province. She was a member of the Michigan Educators National Conference and of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.
Surviving is her husband, Tim, whom she married Dec. 21, 1964.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today. Services by Perrysburg Chapter, Eastern Star, of which she was a past matron, will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the mortuary.
The family suggests tributes to the Wood County Humane Society.
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