Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Irene Poletes, 1928-2012: Toledo elementary teacher, principal led hospital group

IRENE POLETES, 1928-2012

Irene Poletes, a teacher and principal in Toledo Public Schools who once headed the Flower Hospital Auxiliary, died Friday in Sunset House. She was 83.

Ms. Poletes had suffered a massive heart attack recently, longtime friend Bonnie Sloan said.

The Toledo native graduated from Woodward High School and the University of Toledo, where she received her bachelor's degree in 1950 and her master's degree in education in 1953.

She spent much of her career in Toledo elementary schools, as a reading teacher, and later as an administrator. Her last position in the district was at Hawkins Elementary, where she was principal. After her retirement, she was a student field instructor at Bowling Green State University.

It was at Toledo schools that Ms. Poletes and Ms. Sloan met, but in retirement that they'd become close friends.

Ms. Poletes persuaded her friend to join the auxiliary; both would serve terms as president.

Ms. Sloan said her friend loved children and was very kind and spent much of her life helping others.

"She was a giver with a capital G," she said.

Ms. Poletes was the daughter of Greek immigrants. Well before she started work with Flower Hospital's Auxiliary, she helped translate between hospital staff and family members who didn't speak English. She loved her heritage.

Ms. Poletes long supported family members in need, friends said.

She worked at many schools, including Raymer and King.

A soft-spoken leader, she worked in a conciliatory fashion, often ending disputes quickly. Colleagues liked her because she was incredibly competent. Students liked her because she was exceedingly fair and consistent with expectations.

Ms. Poletes joined the auxiliary after her retirement, and served in many positions, finally as president from 1999 to 2000. She kept the same demeanor she held as principal, those who worked with her said.

An annual fund-raising event Ms. Poletes spearheaded, "Eclectic Elegance," was very popular under her leadership, Ms. Sloan said.

The volunteer organization, which focuses on patient and community services and helps raise money for the hospital, has about 250 members, Ann Galloway, current president, said. The position often calls for decisions that could give favor to friends, and Ms. Poletes always chose the right path, Ms. Galloway said.

"She was a very calm and gracious leader," she said, "and fair in every movement that she made."

Ms. Poletes is survived by a sister, Stella Poletes, and brother, William Poletes.

Visitation is to be Tuesday from 3 to 8 p.m. at Ansberg-West Funeral Home, 3000 W. Sylvania Ave, where a Trisagion service is scheduled for 7 p.m. The funeral is to be Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

The family suggests tributes to the cathedral.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: or 419-724-6086.

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