Doris Hay, teacher and administrator in Baltimore and Ellicott City, dies

Doris Hay, a "consummate kindergarten teacher" who really loved children, died.

Doris Elizabeth Kehm Hay, a longtime teacher and administrator in Baltimore and Howard County, died June 23 — her 95th birthday — of autonomic insufficiency at her Ellicott City home.

Mrs. Hay taught or was an administrator at Gardenville Elementary School in Baltimore, Pine Orchard Church of the Brethren in Ellicott City, the Samuel Ready School for Girls in Baltimore and St. John's Episcopal Day School in Ellicott City.

Daughter Lauren Hooke of Baltimore said that when she worked for the Baltimore government in the early 1990s, she encountered many people who had been taught or had a child taught by her mother.

"As soon as the connection was made that I was the daughter of the notable Mrs. Hay, their eyes lit up and business talk would turn to how she had positively influenced their child's life," Mrs. Hooke said. "Her reputation preceded her."

Mrs. Hay was born in Locust Point to George H. Kehm, a grocer, and Marguerite Kehm, a teacher. The family moved to the Medfield neighborhood, where her father ran a small grocery and butcher shop called Kehm's Grocery on Weldon Circle. The family lived on the second floor above the grocery, which was open from the early 1920s until the late 1930s, when Mr. Kehm died.

The family later moved to the Govans area. She graduated from Western High School in 1938.

Mrs. Hay initially dreamed of a career as a reporter and attending college out of state, but her family couldn't afford it, Mrs. Hooke said. Instead, she earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education at the Maryland State Teachers College at Towson, now Towson University.

"It was initially her second choice, but she always said she was so glad things turned out that way," Mrs. Hooke said. "She loved interacting with children and was fascinated by their development."

After her graduation in 1942, Mrs. Hay began her career at Gardenville Elementary School in Northeast Baltimore, teaching kindergarten and other grades. She had very large classes at the school, her daughter Susan Taylor of Highland said.

"When she first started she had 50 kids in the morning and 50 in the afternoon, and no assistants and aides," Mrs. Taylor said. "Whenever people complain these days about teaching, she would say 'I had 50 kids in the morning and 50 kids in the evening.'"

Mrs. Hay met her future husband, Richard Hay, when he rented a room from her family in Govans after arriving in Baltimore to start a job as an electrical engineer at Martin Marietta, which later merged with another company to become Lockheed Martin. To date her, Mr. Hay would get ready, leave the house, then ring the doorbell and pick her up for an evening out.

The couple were married in 1947 and Mrs. Hay spent the next 15 years raising their three children. For three years, they lived in Grand Rapids, Mich., before returning to Maryland and settling in Ellicott City in 1956.

Mrs. Hay returned to teaching at Pine Orchard Church of the Brethren in 1963 and taught kindergarten there for seven years. She then went on to teach kindergarten and was head of the lower school at the Samuel Ready School.

"She was the consummate kindergarten teacher," Mrs. Taylor said. "She always printed, she never wrote in cursive. She just really loved children, I think she really liked their enthusiasm and innocence, and she had a good sense of humor so she liked the funny things they came up with."

After leaving the Samuel Ready School, Mrs. Hay became director of St. John's Episcopal Day School in Ellicott City before her retirement in 1981.

When the Samuel Ready School closed in the 1990s, Mrs. Hay sat on the board that established a scholarship fund from the school's endowment that pays for underprivileged girls to attend private schools.

Mrs. Hay was chair for several committees and sat on the vestry at St. John's Episcopal Church, where she was a communicant for over 60 years. She made hundreds of gallons of gravy for church events.

She also was active in the parent teacher association at her children's schools and was an active member of the alumni association for her college and the American Association of University Women.

After their retirement, Mrs. Hay and her husband traveled extensively in Europe and in the U.S., visiting Hungary and Austria as well as her husband's relatives in Scandinavia.

Mrs. Hay was fascinated by Baltimore and its transformation, and often asked people to take her on tours of old neighborhoods she used to live in.

Family members said she was a kind person who loved children.

"She was very positive, very gracious, very appreciative of everything she had," Mrs. Taylor said. "She just never had anything unkind to say about anyone."

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. July 11 at St. John's Episcopal Church at 9120 Frederick Road in Ellicott City.

Besides her husband and daughters, Mrs. Hay is survived by a son, Richard Hay Jr. of Healdsburg, Calif.; four grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and two nieces.

cwells@baltsun.com

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