Louise M. Bair, 95, taught in Baltimore, Cecil County 52 years

May 03, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Louise M. Bair, who began her many years of teaching in a one-room school in Cecil County, died Wednesday in her sleep at the Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson. The former Rodgers Forge resident was 95.

From 1945 to her retirement in 1977, she taught first-grade at Baltimore's Irvington and Waverly elementary schools.

Born Louise McCauley in the Cecil community of Leeds, she was the daughter of a butcher who died when she was 5. Her family arranged for her to be sent to Baltimore and enrolled at Samuel Ready School, a private girls' orphanage and academic institution at North Avenue and Harford Road.

"She never forgot her experiences there," said her daughter, Helen Mosher of Mays Chapel in Baltimore County. "It was a hard life for the girls - and the staff followed them around, always checking behind their work, as the girls did their chores. She thought she got a good education - but would have rather been at home."

After graduation in 1923, she enrolled at the old Towson Normal School and earned her diploma two years later - at age 18.

She returned Cecil County to teach and was assigned to a one-room school near her home. In the winter, she had to start a fire in a cast-iron stove to warm the classroom. She later taught elementary school at Cecilton and Northeast.

In 1945, she moved to Baltimore and continued teaching, first at the Irvington School at Old Frederick Road and Loudon Avenue and later at Waverly Elementary, 34th and Frisby streets.

"She loved teaching first-graders to read," her daughter said. "And even though her classes often had about 40 to 45 students, she was proud that she could teach just about anyone to read."

During the summer breaks, Mrs. Bair worked as an interim librarian at the University of Delaware in Newark.

She taught until she was 70, retired, then became president of the Women's Club of Rodgers Forge. She enjoyed arranging trips for members.

Mrs. Bair moved to Pickersgill in 1994 and helped set up a convenience store on the retirement community's Towson grounds. She managed the store three days a week from 1994 to 1998, and went on buying trips to purchase merchandise she felt her fellow residents might want.

"She was a hard-working, pleasant person," said Jerry Glass, a Pickersgill administrator. "You could tell her schoolteaching background made her regimented - everything ran just so. She gave things her personal touch."

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Bair is survived by four grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. Her marriage to John Alfred Bair ended in divorce.

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