Longtime educator Geraldine “Jerry” Imes, who taught English in American Samoa in the 1960s and returned to Toledo to teach at Woodward and Bowsher, died Thursday at Ebeid Hospice Residence in Sylvania.
Mrs. Imes took ill while vacationing in Georgia two weeks ago. She was flown back to Toledo and entered hospice after she was diagnosed with kidney and liver failure, said Chet Imes, her husband of 23 years.
In 1966, the U.S. government sent her to Pago Pago in the U.S. territory in the South Pacific to teach English, social studies, and other lessons on television to reach the far-flung village schools. She returned to Toledo in 1969 to teach in the Toledo Public Schools system, Mr. Imes said.
Mr. Imes was working at the same time as director of the TV studios there.
Members of the Samoan project lived in a compound near the airport in Pago Pago, and thus were privy to the identities of many of the famous passengers aboard the weekly flights that landed there to refuel on their trips between Hawaii and Australia, Mr. Imes said.
Among the notable people they saw there include Pope Paul VI, President Lyndon Johnson, aviator Charles Lindbergh, and various astronauts whose space flights ended with a Pacific Ocean landing, Mr. Imes said.
“We always knew who was coming in on Pan Am once a week,” Mr. Imes recalled.
Both were married to different people while working in American Samoa, and lost touch with each other after leaving the territory.
The two met again while attending a reunion of participants of the Samoan operation at Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 1984. By that time both were divorced, said Mr. Imes, who was working for Delta Airlines at its headquarters in Atlanta.
The two were married in Toledo in 1989.
Mrs. Imes was born on July 21, 1939, in Toledo to Gerald and Iantha Chappuies. She graduated from the University of Toledo in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in education, and in 1962 with a bachelor of science degree.
After returning to Toledo, she taught at Woodward High School and later at Bowsher, retiring after 30 years with the school system.
She was the first girl’s tennis coach at Bowsher and she also coached the boy’s tennis team for about 15 years, her husband said.
She learned to scuba dive, was an avid downhill skier, and was coauthor of four children’s books, her husband said.
As a couple, the Imes volunteered for events sponsored by the University of Toledo Alumni Association and were named volunteers of the year in 2009, Mr. Imes said.
Debbie Chappuies, Mrs. Imes’ sister-in-law, said Jerry kept in touch with the people of Samoa and returned to visit. She collected artifacts and artwork and turned a room in her home into a “museum-quality” exhibit showcasing the culture.
Mrs. Chappuies said Mrs. Imes was generous with her time and money.
The couple assisted a Rotary exchange student from Colombia who had stayed with the Chappuieses to return to the United States and earn a college degree. She provided the student, Lorena Gloden, with a place to live while attending school. Ms. Gloden has since become a U.S. citizen and is living in Saginaw, Mich., Mrs. Chappuies said.
“She was one of the most generous people you would want to know,” Mrs. Chappuies said. “She saw a need and she was there.”
Mrs. Imes is survived by her husband, Chet Imes; brother, Duane Chappuies, and her first husband, David Gilmore.
Visitation is at Newcomer Funeral Home, 4150 W. Laskey Rd., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the funeral beginning at 2 p.m.
Memorials are suggested to Paws and Whiskers.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: email@example.com or 419-724-6050.