Rose F. Amoss, 95, Harford teacher for 43 years

January 31, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Rose Famous Amoss, whose teaching of the "Three R's" and history in Harford County public schools spanned 43 years, died of heart failure Jan. 24 at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. She was 95.

After graduating from Towson Normal School, now Towson University, in 1927, Mrs. Amoss began her teaching career at Youth's Benefit School, then a two-room schoolhouse in Fallston.

She later taught at Wilna School in Joppa, and at Emmorton and Bel Air elementaries. She retired in 1970 from the present-day Youth's Benefit Elementary School on Mountain Road in Fallston.

Early in her career, Mrs. Amoss commuted to school from Bel Air in a horse and buggy until earning enough to buy a car.

"I remember that car," said Frank Thomas, 84, a former pupil who owns and operates a Harford County sawmill. "It was a green 1928 Model-A Ford with a rumble seat."

In addition to teaching the primary grades, Mrs. Amoss' duties included keeping the school's potbellied stove, which heated the classrooms, stoked with coal and banking it at day's end.

"The children would sometimes bring vegetables to school, and she'd make a pot of vegetable soup on that old stove, which they ate at lunch," said her daughter, Alva Mary Amoss McMullen of Fallston, a retired Harford County educator.

A woman of medium build whose face was highlighted by a pair of delicate glasses, Mrs. Amoss was a firm yet nurturing presence to her pupils.

"She didn't whoop and holler, and put her lessons over so you could understand them. She was always praising the students and was a very gentle person," said Mr. Thomas. "However, if she got her eyebrows up, you knew you better damn well stop what you were doing and sit down. She knew how to handle kids," he said, laughing.

Wilna School was a two-room yellow clapboard building with a black roof and seven pupils, recalled Dr. William H.B. Howard of Joppa, a former pupil and prominent Baltimore general surgeon. "It was on a dirt road and no matter how bad the weather, we got there because we knew Mrs. Amoss was going to be there. She was the most laid-back, stolid woman I've ever known. Nothing ever seemed to bother her."

He recalled recesses when Mrs. Amoss umpired ball games and played spirited games of dodge ball with her pupils. He also remembered her discipline for a classroom miscreant.

"If you were bad, you had to write 100 times that you wouldn't bother Patsy Jones anymore. If you were really bad, she made you write The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. And if you were really, really, really bad, it was The Courtship of Myles Standish.

"I wrote The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere so many times that I can still recite every word of it from memory even after all these years," he said, laughing.

Jack McCann, a retired contractor and builder whose office for many years was in the old Youth's Benefit School building that he had attended as a child, recalled with humor advice Mrs. Amoss imparted to her class one day in 1928.

"We were talking about trees, and she said if everyone went out and planted an acre of walnut trees, they'd have all the money they ever wanted once they were grown. I didn't plant them and didn't get a lot of money," he said.

Born Rose Famous, the daughter of a farmer in Street whose family had lived in Harford County since the 1700s, she was a 1925 graduate of Bel Air High School.

In 1930, Mrs. Amoss married David H. Amoss, a farmer who died in 1957. She spent the remainder of her life in the couple's farmhouse on Pleasantville Road in Fallston, part log cabin and dated to the 1840s.

She had been active for many years with the Harford County 4-H Club and Mount Soma Historical Society.

She was a member of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Pylesville and St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church in Fallston, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Monday.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Amoss is survived by two grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren.

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