Lois Theresa Scherer

Known to her students as 'Grandmom,' she headed Walbrook High's guidance department for 30 years

January 06, 2009|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com

Lois Theresa Scherer, a lifelong educator who was head of the guidance department at Baltimore's Walbrook High School for 30 years, died of a stroke Dec. 29 at Bon Secours Hospital. She was 85.

Ms. Scherer devoted her life to education and was beloved by her students, who called her "Grandmom," according to a former colleague. When she retired in 2003, at the age of 80, Walbrook named its guidance center in her honor.

"She was the essence of that school," said Marilyn E. Rondeau, who joined the Walbrook faculty in 1982 and later became the school's principal. "When you thought of Walbrook, you thought of Lois. She opened her heart and embraced everyone. She gave of herself all of the time to others."

Ms. Scherer was born in Baltimore and raised on Caroline Street in East Baltimore, the eldest of three children. She graduated from St. Frances Academy and wanted to attend the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. But the school did not accept African-Americans at the time. Through a family friend, Ms. Scherer was admitted to Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, where she was not allowed to swim in the pool with the other students. She earned a bachelor's degree in social studies and English/education.

After graduation, Ms. Scherer returned to Baltimore to teach English at St. Frances, from 1945 to 1954. She then taught in a general vocational school in the city before becoming a counselor at Lombard Junior High School in 1965. She was promoted to be the school's head of guidance in 1969 and then joined Walbrook High School in 1973 as guidance department chairwoman.

She was a strict grammarian and did not take any nonsense, Ms. Rondeau said. The students respected and looked up to her. Ms. Rondeau said that three weeks ago she asked Ms. Scherer if she missed Walbrook, and she said, "I miss the students, I miss working. That was my life."

Ms. Scherer also worked as a counselor on weekends from 1973 to 1987 at the Harford Institute, an adult education center. She did graduate work at Catholic University, the University of Maryland and Loyola College in Maryland. She received many awards, including the Cal Ripken Iron Man Award for her service to students; the city school system Guidance Counselor of the Year award; and the Mount Mary College Madonna Medalist Award, the highest honor bestowed by the school's alumnae association.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at Immaculate Conception Church, 1512 Druid Hill Ave., with burial at New Cathedral Cemetery.

Ms. Scherer is survived by a brother, William Peter Scherer Jr. of Baltimore; and a niece, Carmelita Scherer Smith of Baltimore, whom she helped raise.

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