Barbara Engers, 54, taught at Catonsville elementary

March 16, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Barbara Leigh Engers, who had been a teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in her native Catonsville for 31 years, died Sunday of breast cancer at the home of her brother in Spartanburg, S.C. She was 54.

Mrs. Engers retired in 1999 because of failing health. She had taught fourth-graders at Hillcrest since it opened in 1968.

"She was an old-fashioned teacher, an icon in the building and died way too early," said Betsy Gibbs, principal of Hillcrest.

"During her terrible fight with cancer, she always came to work. She'd have chemo treatments in the morning and then come to school," Mrs. Gibbs said. "She never gave up or lost her spirit and her kids never suffered. She continued their education as if there was nothing wrong and kept doing her job."

"She wanted to be an influence in [her pupils'] lives," said Barbara L. Hauck, a fourth-grade teacher and a 28-year faculty member. She said Mrs. Engers especially liked teaching reading and language.

"Barb had such a welcoming and happy atmosphere in her classroom and she could teach the gifted and talented children as well as those with special physical and emotional needs," Mrs. Hauck said.

"Her kindness, understanding and organization in the classroom, coupled with the devotion to her students, affected several generations of Catonsville students," said her sister, Mary Lash of West Friendship.

Born Barbara Bowers in Catonsville, she graduated from the local high school in 1964 and received bachelor's and master's degrees in education at Towson State College in 1968 and the 1970s, respectively.

She had a summer home on 68th Street in Ocean City and had been secretary and treasurer of the Sunset South Condominium Association for more than 20 years.

She was an avid reader and enjoyed Impressionist art and Beatles music.

For 37 years, she was a member of the Mary Carroll Caton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Her marriage to Phillip Engers ended in divorce.

A memorial Mass for Mrs. Engers will be offered at 9 a.m. March 31 in the chapel of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 30 Melvin Ave., Catonsville.

She also is survived by her brother, Charles E. Bowers of Spartanburg; her mother, Jessie M. Bowers of Catonsville; five nieces; and her companion of many years, Joseph C. Rhodes of Ellicott City.

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