Arelyn Mahan, 78, won accolades as principal

Arelyn Mahan, a retired Dundalk elementary school principal who won accolades in her profession, died Monday of complications from Parkinson's disease at Oak Crest Village in Parkville, where she lived for six years. She was 78 and a former longtime Towson resident.

Born Veta Arelyn Thomas on a farm near Bucklin, Mo., she moved to Annapolis when her father joined the Naval Academy faculty. A 1943 Annapolis High School graduate, she earned a degree at what is now Towson University and taught third grade at Towson Elementary for three years.


After the 1951 birth of her son, Richard Lawrence Mahan, she began substitute teaching at Towson-area schools.

While her son was in first grade, the principal of Rodgers Forge Elementary asked her to fill in as a teacher the last nine weeks of the school year. She did - and remained another nine years before leaving to start the Baltimore County schools' Mobile Educational Technology Unit.


Mrs. Mahan traveled by trailer to county schools and taught teachers to use audio-visual equipment.

In 1971, when she earned a master's degree from Towson, she was named assistant principal at Carney Elementary School, a post she held for six years. Colleagues said she worked closely with neighborhood residents and parents to help resolve community issues.

"She was a wonder. She could do anything and did it with such ease," said Alice L. Kempner, Carney's former principal. "She served as a mentor to the beginning teachers. She was an inspiration."

She then became principal of Norwood Elementary School on Delvale Avenue in Dundalk. She retired in 1988.

"She was a fine principal," said colleague and friend George Hohl, retired principal of Deer Park Middle Magnet School in Randallstown. "She was innovative and had a vibrant personality. She worked well with the children who were not always the privileged ones, the ones who needed an extra hand."

Mrs. Mahan was named Baltimore County's Educational Administrator of the Year in 1980, and in 1981 was named Maryland Educational Administrator of the Year by the Maryland Association of Educational Office Professionals.

Mrs. Mahan was an accomplished duckpin bowler and competed in the Baltimore Women's Major-Minor League at Dundalk's Pinland Lanes for many years.

She also collected Hummel figurines and made four trips to Germany and the Goebel factory where the miniature figures are produced. She also made and occasionally sold counted cross-stitch samplers.


She was a former treasurer of the Towson United Methodist Church's Women's Society and a former president of the board of managers of Wesley Home for the Aged in Mount Washington.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Ruck Towson Funeral Home Inc., 1050 York Road.

Survivors include her husband of 56 years, Charles T. Mahan Jr., a retired Baltimore County schools physical facilities officer and train photographer; her son of Burke, Va.; a sister, Louise McGill of Tulsa, Okla.; and two grandchildren.