Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
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Joan K. Hassel, 1927-2013: Retired Sylvania teacher a strong child advocate


Joan K. Hassel.


Joan K. Hassel, one of the educators chosen to inaugurate a school designed for team teaching, died Friday in Sunset Village, Sylvania Township, where she lived since 2009. She was 84.

She had dementia, her son, Mark, said.

Mrs. Hassel, a longtime West Toledo resident, taught third grade for more than 20 years in the Sylvania school district. She began at Hillview Elementary School.

She moved to Whiteford Elementary when it opened at the start of the 1967-68 academic year as a demonstration school, with architecture that matched a team approach to teaching. The school’s six L-shaped areas for first through sixth grades could be left open for groups of up to 60 or subdivided as needed.

In that setting, the teachers developed deep team bonds, her son said. Mrs. Hassel had the respect of her peers, said Bob Berkowitz, who taught sixth grade at Whiteford.

“I have nothing but fond memories of her,” said Mr. Berkowitz, who retired from the Sylvania system as principal of Maplewood Elementary.

“She was admired for the way she interacted with children and the families,” he said. “She was a very strong child advocate. Everything that is good about teachers is what she was with her kids.”

She retired from Whiteford Elementary in 1986. Afterward, she helped with children’s theater at what is now Lourdes University; with Toledo Symphony children’s concerts, and with a literacy program.

Early in her career, she taught music to elementary students in the Bradley, Ill., public schools.

Mrs. Hassel was born March 25, 1927, in Edgerton, Wis., to Cecelia and Durrel Davis. The family moved, and she grew up in Kansas. She took piano lessons, and through her teen years, played piano and organ in church.

She was a 1944 graduate of Augusta, Kan., High School.

She began her college career at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kan., an all-women’s college, and received a bachelor of arts degree in music from DePaul University in Chicago. She also attended Loyola University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Toledo.

She was in graduate school and working at a Cook County children services home when she met her husband, Gerald “Gere” Hassel, a fellow employee and journalism graduate student at Northwestern University. They married Dec. 31, 1951.

Mr. Hassel, who was a copy editor at The Blade and the former Toledo Times, died June 30, 2002.

Surviving are sons, Mark and Kirk Hassel; three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. Sunday in the Walker Funeral Home, with a recitation of the Rosary at 8 p.m. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in Christ the King Church, where she was a member.

The family suggests tributes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, or the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.

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