Mary Erskine Weglian, a retired educator who was in charge of a federal program at Mason Consolidated Schools that serves children of Native American ancestory, died Saturday of cancer in Hospice of Northwest Ohio. She was 69.
Mrs. Weglian, of West Toledo, succumbed to cancer after a five-year battle, said John Weglian, her husband of 45 years.
In 1988, she took over the program in Mason Schools, near Erie, that teaches children about their Native American heritage by participating in cultural activities and crafts. Her responsibilties also included tutoring children in academic subjects, including math and reading.
Mason Superintendent David Drewyor said students in the federally funded program, enacted in the 1972 Indian Education Act, are at-risk children in elementary, middle, and high school.
"She was good at it," he said. "She was an exceptional teacher and exceptional person."
Barb Reighard, a retired teacher who worked with Mrs. Weglian and ran the program before she took over, said that despite funding cuts, Mrs. Weglian was resourceful in finding ways of enriching children so they understood and appreciated their culture.
She said Mrs. Weglian often told children in the program that they could invite students who were not Native Americans to participate in activities.
"If there was a regular student in the classroom, she would include them," she said. "She was the smart one. She was just so talented in doing a program like this."
Mr. Weglian said his wife kept in contact with some former students and often received visits from students after they graduated.
"She loved it, and the kids loved her," he said.
Mrs. Weglian also directed the Michigan Youth in Government Program at Mason. An extracurricular activity, the program provides middle school and high school students with an opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom to create a mock legislative process, culiminating in students participating in an annual competition in Lansing.
"She was very organized. She had a good ideas and she helped the kids develop their skills,'' said Melissa Fortner, a teacher at Mason who assisted her.
After retiring from Mason in 2010, Mrs. Weglian went back to the schools as a volunteer in the Youth in Government Program, working with middle school students.
The former Mary Erskine, she grew up in Staunton, Va., where she graduated in 1961 from Robert E. Lee High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Notre Dame of Maryland University, She taught two years at a school in Baltimore.
Mr. Weglian, who was then an Army intelligence officer, met his future wife through mutual friends in October, 1966, in Towson, Md., where she was living. They were married March 18, 1967.
The couple moved to San Francisco, where Mr. Weglian was stationed, and relocated to his hometown, Toledo, in 1969. She taught at Hamilton Elementary School, and quit after one year to stay at home and raise her family. She later tutored students at Ladyfield School in Toledo.
Surviving are her husband; John J. Weglian; son, John Weglian; daughters, Elizabeth Trainum, Emily Weglian, and Sarah Weglian; brothers, B. Wayne, Thomas, and Michael Erskine, and nine grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Blanchard-Strabler Funeral Home,1163 W. Sylvania Ave. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Clement Church, 3030 Tremainsville Rd.
The family suggests tributes to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or Notre Dame of Maryland University.