By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
9:29 PM EDT, August 9, 2012
Ann M. Klingaman, a retired Baltimore County public school educator whose career spanned more than three decades, died Sunday of complications from a broken hip at Gilchrist Hospice in Columbia.
The former longtime Catonsville resident was 88.
The daughter of a West Baltimore pharmacist and a homemaker, Ann Rebecca Meeth was born in Baltimore and raised in Catonsville.
She was a 1940 graduate of Catonsville High School and earned a bachelor's degree in 1944 from what was then Western Maryland College.
A biology teacher, Mrs. Klingaman began her career in the 1940s at Sparrows Point High School.
"Upon graduating from college, she began teaching at Sparrows Point, where she drove her grandfather's butcher truck to the school from Catonsville each day," said a son, John "Mike" Klingaman, a Baltimore Sun sports reporter who lives in Sykesville.
While at Sparrows Point, she met her future husband, William Langdon Klingaman, an English teacher and Dartmouth College graduate. They married in 1947.
"He died in 1953, when I was 4 years old, and she was left to raise her two sons alone," her son said. "She raised us and even bought a house in Catonsville. That wasn't done in 1954."
Mrs. Klingaman subsequently taught biology at Catonsville, Woodlawn and Randallstown high schools, finally returning to Catonsville, from which she retired in the late 1970s.
Mrs. Klingaman, whose interest in ecology stemmed from her summers spent at a family home on Bodkin Creek, developed the ecology curriculum during the 1970s for Baltimore County's public schools.
"I was her student teacher back in 1961 and have known her for 50 years," said Chris Boner, who later taught in Baltimore County public schools and retired from Carroll County public schools.
"She was a wonderful example and I was fortunate having her as a mentor and role model. I was fortunate to be assigned to her," said Mrs. Boner. "She gave you a chance to test your wings and gave you a critique before she put you out there."
She said that Mrs. Klingaman was a master when it came to teaching biology and ecology.
"As a teacher, she was able to make the subject relevant to her students. She had a hands-on approach and showed the kids what they were talking about could be used later in life," she said.
Mrs. Boner, who lives in Eldersburg, said Mrs. Klingaman was a popular teacher. "Because she was an innovative teacher, the kids anxiously looked forward to coming to class. They treated her with respect, and she returned it," she said.
Dan Hope, a former student who retired from the University of Georgia, said that Mrs. Klingaman was a major influence on his life.
"I was a student of Ann's in 1959 to 1960. I was up there last year for a reunion, and my wife and I dropped by and spent the afternoon with her," said Mr. Hope, an environmental activist who was a senior public service associate at his retirement.
"Ann had a heck of an influence on me. She was always an up person and was always finding ways to get you interested and intrigued in things. And she wanted to help," said Mr. Hope, who lives in Athens, Ga.
"She cared about students, whom she treated as individuals. She wanted them to learn the joy of learning," he said.
Mr. Hope said Mrs. Klingaman had an emotional side and a fondness for patriotic music.
"If you played any military music or a Sousa march, it would bring her to tears," he said.
Mrs. Klingaman was a dog fancier, and one of her environmental interests was the wolf.
"She was a staunch environmentalist and an advocate for them. She got interested in them in the early 1970s through her teaching of ecology and because dogs had evolved from wolves," her son said.
"Ann felt they were a very important part of the ecosystem, and she even conducted fundraisers to raise money for their protection," said Mrs. Boner.
For the past 12 years, Mrs. Klingaman lived at Vantage House retirement community in Columbia, where she wrote profiles of new residents for its monthly newsletter.
She had been a longtime member of and Sunday school teacher at Catonsville Presbyterian Church, where she was ordained a deacon in 1986.
Mrs. Klingaman was an avid gardener. She also enjoyed knitting shirts for teddy bears that were sold to raise funds for charities.
She was an Abraham Lincoln and Civil War buff, her son said, and also a collector of keys.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 25 at her church, 1400 Frederick Road.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Klingaman is survived by another son, William Klingaman of Columbia; three grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
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