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Jane Marie Kuebbler| Meinert, 1912-2012: 1st female leader of TPS board was councilman, GOP chairman

Jane Marie Kuebbeler Meinert, a longtime East Toledo resident who was the Toledo Board of Education's first woman president and was renowned for her diligence as a Toledo City Council member, died Monday at Swan Creek Retirement Village, just three months shy of her 100th birthday.

She died of natural causes, said her son, Dr. Philip Kuebbeler.

"She was a great mother and lived a wonderful life and a full life," he said. "We were glad we had her as long as we did -- not everyone can have their mother be with them for 73 years."

Known as Mrs. Kuebbeler when she became politically active as a Republican, she was elected to the school board in 1955 and was voted to its presidency by that board in January, 1960, after which she appeared in The Blade brandishing an oversized gavel.

In 1962, she was unanimously appointed to council to fill a vacancy left by the death of Councilman C. Donald Brown, upon recommendation by the Hon. John Potter, Toledo's mayor at the time. She served seven years.

"She was really an outstanding representative of East Toledo and really, all of Toledo," said Judge Potter, the city's mayor from 1961 to 1967. "When issues came before city council, she knew what the facts were and was ready to vote. She was there to serve, and I think she will be remembered and appreciated for her service and will certainly be missed by me and all of Toledo."

She and Judge Potter were political allies, her son said, describing a strong-willed woman who gave it her all. "She really put everything into it," he said. "She would go out and be at the Jeep plant and all the factories and she would be out shaking hands."

In 1966, she unsuccessfully challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Thomas "Lud" Ashley for the 9th District congressional seat.

"I remember she asked us if she should [run] … and at that time, we said, 'Why not?' " Dr. Kuebbeler said of himself, his father, and his brother, David. "She had a good political name and she wanted to do it, so we gave her our blessing."

In 1969, Mrs. Kuebbeler announced she would not seek re-election to council, telling The Blade in a statement that running for re-election "means constant pressure to keep one's name before the public which, to do deliberately, as some do, is a distasteful pursuit for me."

Despite her aversion to self-promotion, she returned to politics on a different stage when she was named executive director of the Lucas County Republican Party in 1972.

Born in 1912 to Clara and William Kamke, she grew up on Hoiles Avenue in West Toledo and graduated from Scott High School in 1929 before obtaining a bachelor's degree in education from the then-Toledo University.

She taught one year of high school math at Gibsonburg High School before she met Rollin Kuebbeler at a TU dance, and the two married in 1934.

The family moved to a house on Euclid Street, where Dr. Rollin Kuebbeler set up practice in a basement office that he ran from 1944 until his 1972 death. His wife became his office manager, taking care of the billing and answering the phones, Dr. Philip Kuebbeler said, amid juggling family matters. "She was always a strong woman; she was kind of the cornerstone of our family," he said.

After her husband's death, she married longtime friend Kermit Meinert, owner and operator at the time of the Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home, in 1973. They split their time between residences in Toledo and Sarasota until Mr. Meinert's 2003 death, after which she moved into the Swan Creek home.

"We always kidded her that she married a doctor first and then married an undertaker, so she completed the cycle," her son said.

Mrs. Meinert was heavily involved in her church, Eastminster Presbyterian, where she taught Sunday school 25 years, played piano, sang in the choir, and was a deacon and elder. She served on the Presbyterians' National Board of Christian Education.

She is survived by her sons, David Kuebbeler and Dr. Philip Kuebbeler; brother, Bill Kamke; three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home, Oregon Chapel, 440 S. Coy Rd. Memorial services will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Swan Creek Retirement Village, 5916 Cresthaven Lane.

The family suggests tributes to the Swan Creek Retirement Life Fund or Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 725 Navarre Ave.

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