Margaret Emmons, 77, teacher of science and world traveler

April 29, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Margaret Emmons, a retired teacher, died Thursday of complications from pneumonia at Union Memorial Hospital. She was 77 and had lived in Finksburg for 40 years.

She taught science to lower-school pupils at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills from 1962 to 1985, when she retired.

"She was a fine teacher and a fine person," said Archibald R. Montgomery III, a former Garrison Forest headmaster who lives in Valley Forge, Pa. "The kids loved her."

Described as a science teacher who believed pupils learned best by experiencing science, she frequently took her classes on field trips to local environmental centers.

"She was a warm person who possessed an independent mind. She marched to her own drummer," said Ruth Brock, a friend who lives in Cockeysville.

"She was a passionate nature lover who wore a jeweler's glass around her neck," Brock said. "She'd see something on the ground and pick it up and examine it. Walking with her was like going into a new world."

Margaret Annetta Berry was born in Dearborn, Mich., and was a graduate of the Edison Institute, a school in Greenfield Village run by inventor Thomas A. Edison and his friend, Henry Ford.

"As we were growing up, my mother made a lot of comments about Mr. Edison and Mr. Ford. They were kind and motivational to her," said her daughter Sarah E. Wilson of Albuquerque, N.M.

"The school they ran was very creative. One of the things the school encouraged was courses that were then not typical for women," her daughter said.

One such educational experience she recalled was students taking apart and reassembling Model T Fords.

Students who got their rebuilt cars in good running order got to keep them.

Mrs. Emmons received a bachelor's degree in 1946 from the University of Michigan, where she was president of Alpha Phi Sorority. While attending college, she worked in a factory making aircraft components used in World War II.

In 1946, she married Samuel Ewart Emmons Jr., a safety engineer.

She kept a 10-acre garden and grew vegetables, fruits and berries. She also enjoyed cooking and preserving her crops.

A world traveler, she disdained organized tours. She sailed the Amazon River on a small boat to see the rain forest. She also rode on the Trans-Siberian Railway and was flown into the wilderness in the Brooks Range in Alaska, where she slept in a tent and had no guide.

Funeral services were yesterday at Druid Ridge Cemetery.

In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Emmons is survived by three sons, James B. Emmons of Reisterstown, Peter H. Emmons of Baltimore and John L. Emmons of Blacksburg, Va.; another daughter, Michele Forlines of Gallup, N.M.; and 12 grandchildren.

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