Jeanne L. Baer

[ Age 88 ] A Western High School teacher for nearly four decades, she enjoyed people, travel and the sea.

"In the classroom she had high expectations for her students, but at home she was such a softy," said her daughter.

November 07, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

Jeanne Louise Baer, who taught at Western High School for nearly four decades, died of congestive heart failure Thursday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 88 and had lived in Pimlico for many years.

Born Jeanne Louise Groleau in Monaca, Pa., she earned a teaching degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She later attended the Johns Hopkins University.

She moved to Baltimore and joined the Baltimore City Department of Education in 1941 and was a volunteer in the USO - a group whose members entertained military personnel at social gatherings - during World War II.

"My mother loved dancing and meeting people," said her daughter, Deborah Baer of Cedarcroft. "She recalled the many sacrifices made during the war. It was a time that shaped her outlook on life."

In 1948, she married Philip Dallmus Baer, a Western Maryland Railway manager. The couple courted by taking walks. They raised four daughters.

Mrs. Baer, after teaching briefly at Edmondson High School, joined the faculty of Western High School, where she taught business subjects - shorthand, typing and bookkeeping.

"In the classroom she had high expectations for her students, but at home she was such a softy," said her daughter Deborah Baer. "She was fairly strict."

Another daughter, Susan Patton, attended Western High while her mother taught there. She recalled her classroom, with its large windows at Howard and Centre streets.

"It was like a jungle. She filled her room with plants," her daughter said, adding that her mother would surreptitiously check on her students during a typing drill by walking around the classroom and pretending to tend to her plants.

"She kept an eye on her girls when she pinched back her plants," Ms. Patton said.

Mrs. Baer attended Seventh Baptist Church on North Avenue. She sang in its choir and taught Sunday School.

She was a past worthy matron of the Order of the Eastern Star and belonged to the Daughters of the Nile. She was a guardian in the International Order of Job's Daughters.

She was a football fan who had season tickets to the Colts games during the Johnny Unitas years.

With her summers off, Mrs. Baer took full advantage of travel time. She, her husband and daughters camped at the Expo 67 in Montreal. They later bought a houseboat they kept on Bodkin's Creek. The couple owned a recreational vehicle and drove to Alaska and Mexico.

She retired in 1981 and traveled overseas. She recalled walking the Great Wall of China and being jammed on a crowded Japanese subway platform.

"She loved the sea and was happy if she could hear the sound of the ocean," Ms. Patton said.

Mrs. Baer was a reader and, after becoming legally blind several years ago, she listened to books on tape.

"She loved a good story," Deborah Baer said.

A memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Govans Presbyterian Church, 5828 York Road.

Survivors include two other daughters, Elizabeth Baer of Baltimore and Barbara Commander of New Holland, Pa.; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. Her husband died in 1999.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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