Zenobia Faulkner, 1943-2013: Teacher led first graders into world of reading

Ernie and Zenobia Faulkner during the Christ Child Society Celeb Wait Night
Ernie and Zenobia Faulkner during the Christ Child Society Celeb Wait Night " Give From Your Heart" valentine's day theme at Real Seafood and Zia's at The Docks on February 6, 2012.

Zenobia Faulkner, who opened vistas of words and learning to first graders over a 35-year classroom career, died Jan. 10 in Flower Hospital. She was 69.

Mrs. Faulkner of Sylvania Township had pancreatic cancer, her daughter, Leslie Davis, said.

She retired in 2005 after 23 years as a first-grade teacher at Sylvan Elementary School in Sylvania. She began her career as a teacher for 12 years at Blaine and Garfield elementary schools in the Muncie, Ind., Community Schools district, of which she was an alumna.

Moving into administration held no appeal.

“She said, ‘I just love my little first graders,’” said her sister, Ermalene Faulkner, who was a teacher and became an administrator in the Muncie schools.

“She was very knowledgable,” her sister said. “Strategically she knew what to do in the classroom and how to do it.”

Equally important was her affinity for the classroom and grade.

“My sister was such a sweet individual, a loving and soft-spoken person, and I think the age was the perfect match for her,” her sister said. “One thing about first graders, they come to you so innocent. You take them from nonreaders to readers and learning on their own. The world opens to them in first grade. It’s a great age and a great year.”

Mrs. Faulkner was a member of Warren AME Church, where she served on the senior usher board, volunteered for committees, and was a member of the Minute Ladies.

She was active in the Toledo chapters of Charms Inc. and the Girl Friends Inc. She was a member of the Study Hour Club and she was a volunteer for the Christ Child Society.

She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honor society for women educators, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

She was born July 20, 1943, in Princeton, Ind., to Miriam and Ermal Roundtree. Her father left his job at International Harvester and went into training for a U.S. Post Office career with the aim of moving the family to Muncie, home of what is now Ball State University.

“He had a vision for us to be educated,” his daughter Ermalene said.

The family made Muncie home after Zenobia completed seventh grade. She was a 1961 graduate of Muncie Central High School, where she was ranked second in a class of more than 600, her sister said.

“She was an excellent student all her life,” her sister said. “She did everything to perfection.”

Mrs. Faulkner received a bachelor of science degree in 1964 and a master of arts in education degree in 1965, both from Ball State.

She was a former member of Bethel AME Church, Muncie, where she taught Sunday school.

Her husband was superintendent of production at Chevrolet’s Muncie transmission plant. The family moved to northwest Ohio when he was appointed chief metallurgist of the Toledo transmission facility.

Surviving are her husband, Ernest Faulkner, whom she married Aug. 30, 1964; daughter, Leslie Davis; son, Ermal Faulkner; mother, Miriam Roundtree; sister, Ermalene Faulkner, and four grandchildren.

Services will be at noon today in Warren AME Church, where visitation is to start at 11 a.m. Arrangements are by the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to the Warren AME Church fund-raising committee.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.