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Published: Friday, 6/27/2014

Virginia "Ginny" Klewer Church; 1927-2014: Libbey teacher traveled world

Klewer Church Klewer Church

Virginia “Ginny” Klewer Church, a teacher whose retirement pursuit was travel to places visited by Lou Klewer, The Blade’s longtime outdoors editor — and her father — died Wednesday in Parkcliffe Community at Northwood.

She was 86 and had dementia, her son, Rick said.

Ms. Church taught elementary grades early in her career, in Northwood and at Harvard School in Toledo.

For much of her career, she taught in the occupational work experience program at Libbey High School. She dedicated mornings to classroom work in subjects required for graduation.

Students then left for work, often in food service. She was both supervisor, making sure they were on the job, and prospector, visiting a succession of restaurants to ask after openings.

“She wanted to get out of the younger classroom and get into a high school environment where she could do some good with disadvantaged kids who were looking to take the next step out into the real world,” her son said.

She found the work satisfying, but she retired without hesitation.

“She had spent her summers traveling, trying to follow her father’s worldwide travel footsteps as much as possible,” her son said. “She couldn’‍t wait to get her 30 years in so she could travel even more.”

Her father famously visited every state, every province of Canada except Newfoundland, and most countries of Latin America, including 20 trips to Mexico. He traveled to Africa and Antarctica five times and to a dozen European countries; islands in every sea, from the Seychelles to the Galapagos, and the West Indies to Australia and New Zealand. Wherever he stayed, he sent stories and his regular columns back to The Blade.

He died Sept. 16, 1983.

After she retired, Ms. Church moved to Key West, Fla., but she wasn’t home much. Her travel tally exceeded 100 nations and places, including Antarctica at least twice.

“One of the biggest things she did was travel around the world twice on container ships,” her son said. “It wasn’t the QEII, but a container ship hauling who-knows-what from England to Singapore.”

She took Earthwatch safaris and banded birds in the Galapagos and counted whales in Alaska. She served two stints in the Peace Corps, assigned to Poland and then El Salvador.

“She was a free spirit and pretty much traveled where she wanted to, whenever she wanted to,” her son said.

She was born Dec. 6, 1927, to Pauline and Louis Klewer, grew up in West Toledo and was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School.

She received a bachelor’‍s degree in education from the University of Toledo. Even in her career choice, she emulated her father — to “teach other people, which is basically what he did through his newspaper reporting,” her son said.

She later received a master’s degree in counseling from Bowling Green State University.

As her children were growing up, the Churches lived in a former schoolhouse on West River Road in Perrysburg Township. She was formerly married to the late Charles Church.

Surviving are her son, Richard Church; daughter, Jane Kaiser, and a grandson.

A celebration of life service is pending. Arrangements are by the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg.

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

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