Eve Marks

[ Age 99 ] Beth Tfiloh kindergarten teacher for more than 30 years, she earned her bachelor's degree in education at age 71.

October 10, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

Eve Marks, a retired Beth Tfiloh kindergarten teacher who earned her bachelor's degree at 71, died of old age complications Oct. 3 at her Pikesville home. She was 99.

Born Eve Simonoff in what is now Belarus, she sailed to Baltimore as a 4-year-old aboard the steamship Chester A. Arthur and landed at Fells Point with her mother and a sister. She recalled that her father, who had come here earlier, handed her a fresh orange - the first orange she had ever seen.

She grew up on Aisquith Street and was a 1925 graduate of Western High School. She enrolled at the Maryland State Normal School in Towson and in 1927 earned a teaching certificate - and 51 years later received a bachelor's degree in education from what by then had become Towson State College.

"I remember you could get there on the No. 8 trolley, but it took about an hour and a half and you had to be on time. They didn't take excuses," she told a reporter in a 1978 Evening Sun interview, relating her experiences from half a century earlier.

She began riding with a friend who had an old Studebaker, but it occasionally ran out of gas in Druid Hill Park and they had to refuel it using a funnel, she recalled in the newspaper article.

Mrs. Marks recalled getting a failing grade in vocal music but doing better with piano studies.

She became a Baltimore public schools kindergarten teacher, and after the birth of her second daughter she took over the preschool department at Beth Tfiloh Community School, then located on Garrison Boulevard. She taught for more than three decades, moving with the school as the congregation relocated to Baltimore County.

Mrs. Marks felt cheated that her years at Towson Normal had not provided the liberal arts courses she wanted, so she later took classes during summers and evenings at Towson, Loyola College, the Johns Hopkins University and what is now Baltimore City Community College. She realized she had nearly enough credits for a degree, needing only a physical science course.

She enrolled in the course at Towson, found it the most challenging she had ever taken, and received an A - along with her degree in 1978, as the oldest member of her graduating class.

Getting that degree, she said, "was something that was always in the back of my mind. I'd always wanted a degree like some women wanted a fur coat."

She told the Evening Sun reporter that the older students in her classes were "more aggressive" and curious than the 20-year-olds. "If we'd left it up to the youngsters, we'd never have learned anything," she said.

Mrs. Marks continued teaching and retired about 1980. She suffered several broken bones nine years ago when she tripped over a basket of food she had collected for the poor.

"The three pillars of her life were love of family, love of Judaism and love of learning. These loves were her compass and are the reasons she had such a wonderful and fulfilling life," grandson Alan Hoffman said in a eulogy for her funeral Thursday in Pikesville.

"She taught us all that learning was the journey and education was not just a diploma that got you a good job or a bar mitzvah certificate you hung on the wall. She led by example," Mr. Hoffman said

He recalled that Mrs. Marks taught her five grandchildren at Beth Tfiloh. "With that job she covered all the bases of family, Judaism and learning. It was a home run," he said.

In addition to her grandchildren, survivors include two daughters, lobbyist and former state Sen. Barbara Ann Hoffman of Baltimore and Sheila Beth Eller of Pikesville, a speech pathologist; and six great-grandchildren. Her husband of 45 years, Sidney Wolf Marks, a furniture salesman, died in 1980.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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