Edith May Panetti, 94, city teacher, charity booster

August 31, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Edith May Panetti, a retired teacher, longtime supporter of Santa Claus Anonymous and avid bridge player, died Saturday of pneumonia at Lorien Columbia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was 94.

The former resident of Original Northwood, who had lived at the Columbia nursing home since 1996, retired from city schools in 1964.

Mrs. Panetti taught fourth, fifth and sixth grades at John Ruhrah Elementary School in O'Donnell Heights from 1939 until she retired.

"There was nothing she couldn't do. She could arrange holiday or graduation assemblies at the drop of a hat," said Jule T. Hammond of Cedarcroft, who taught at the school from 1943 until 1964.

Mrs. Hammond described Mrs. Panetti as a "very popular and patient teacher who could get ideas across."

A retiring principal wrote of Mrs. Panetti in a poem that she was "most put upon," and concluded: "She was urged, I remember, to demonstrate/ How ones become ten and children get eight."

In addition to teaching and overseeing extracurricular activities at the school, Mrs. Panetti also gave demonstration lessons to new teachers, acted as school librarian and directed the glee club. She would entertain patients at the old Baltimore City Hospitals during the holiday season.

When she retired, she was lauded by Baltimore Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin and Gov. J. Millard Tawes, who said " as a teacher this service has exceeded normal obligations we are deeply indebted to you."

For more than 25 years, Mrs. Panetti raised money and acquired toys for Santa Claus Anonymous, and her love of bridge also helped the charity.

"She loved bridge and always had at least one bridge party on the weekends," Mrs. Hammond said.

"She gave a bridge party for Santa Claus Anonymous and had to borrow the house next door to store all the gifts. When she got older and couldn't hold the party any longer, she urged her friends on her Christmas cards to send checks to Santa Claus Anonymous," Mrs. Hammond said.

The former Edith May Mauler was born and raised in Fells Point, where her father, Conrad Mauler, established in 1889 C. Mauler & Sons, a wholesale distributor of school supplies, toys, housewares, notions and novelties.

During World War I, while her brothers were serving in the war, her father forced her to quit school and work in the family business, which closed in 1994.

"Because she began going to libraries at the age of 5, she continued to check out books and read," said Mary Mauler of Baltimore, a niece.

Mrs. Panetti graduated from Eastern High School and earned a teaching degree from then-Towson Normal School and a master's degree in education from the Johns Hopkins University.

She participated in the first human flag ceremony at Fort McHenry on Defender's Day in 1914, the 100th anniversary of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner. On that day, 6,500 Baltimore schoolchildren dressed in red, white and blue capes to form a huge flag.

"She went to the reunions for years of those who were there that day. She was quite proud of being in the human flag," Mrs. Mauler said.

Mrs. Panetti was a member of the Women's Civic League and Boundry United Methodist Church, and had been active with the Red Cross.

She was married for many years to Ernest F. Panetti, a janitorial supply salesman, who died in 1968.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Loudon Park Funeral Home, 3620 Wilkens Ave.

She is survived by many nephews and nieces.

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