Inez B. Gilhooly, a retired Anne Arundel County educator who was a partner in a thoroughbred stable with her husband, died Friday of Alzheimer's disease at Skyway Manor assisted living in Cape St. Claire. She was 79.
Inez Blair Johnson was born and raised in Roanoke, Va. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at Concord College in Athens, Va., where she studied for 31/2 years and met her future husband.
In 1951, she married Eugene E. Gilhooly, and the next year, the couple moved to Anne Arundel County, where they began their careers as educators.
"Inez didn't finish college, but in those days you didn't need the full certification to teach," said Mr. Gilhooly, who retired in 1985 from Davidsonville Elementary School, where he had been principal.
Mrs. Gilhooly taught at Linthicum, Belvedere and Folger McKinsey elementary schools before joining the faculty of Central Special Education Center in Edgewater, working with physically and mentally disabled students.
"Working with special-needs children takes more patience than most people have," said Nancy J. P. Lively, now retired from Anne Arundel County public schools, where she had been a library and media specialist for years.
"She tried so hard to reach those children. She didn't want her classroom to be some holding ground. If they could learn, no matter how long it took, she'd figure out some way and was determined for them to learn," said Mrs. Lively, who was often called upon by Mrs. Gilhooly to assist her in working with students.
"She worked just as hard for her kids as if they were gifted-and-talented students. Other teachers might not do that, but that wasn't Inez. That's the attitude she had," Mrs. Lively said.
Theodore J. Brown, now retired from Anne Arundel County public schools, had been Mrs. Gilhooly's principal when she was teaching fourth grade at Belvedere Elementary School.
"She was probably the most reliable and helpful individual I ever had as a faculty member. If there were an all-star faculty team, she'd be my fourth-grade teacher," said Mr. Brown.
"I was a new principal at Belvedere, and Inez was right behind me. I never once heard her say, 'We used to do it this way,' " he said. "Also, her paperwork and records were always done to perfection."
Mary Katherine Bruni Leadbeater was a member of Mrs. Gilhooly's third-grade class at Germantown Elementary School.
"Not only was she my teacher, she was also the mother of a peer, friends with my parents and an Admiral Heights neighbor," Mrs. Leadbeater said. "I could look out the window and see her house, but in the classroom, she put me at ease."
Mrs. Leadbeater recalled Mrs. Gilhooly's conservative style of dress and "starched white collars."
"She was always looked crisp and clean," she recalled. "In the classroom, she never raised her voice and was always smiling. She had a very expressive face and really didn't have to talk all that much."
Mrs. Gilhooly retired in 1990.
"I had always loved thoroughbred racing and going to the track, and one night when we were going to dinner at Howard Johnson's on Route 50, I said I was thinking of buying a horse," Mr. Gilhooly said.
"I thought Inez might jump out of the car right there on Route 50 at that suggestion but she surprised me with her answer. She said, 'As long as you've been interested in horse racing, I wondered why you put off so long buying a horse,' " he said.
They established Schoolyard Stables, which has operated at Maryland racetracks since 1982.
Some years were successful, and some weren't, Mr. Gilhooly said. "Inez used to say, 'As long as they keep paying the bills, we're happy with them,' " he said, laughing.
Mrs. Gilhooly enjoyed photography and travel. She also liked playing tennis and golfing with her husband at the Naval Academy golf course, where they were members.
"She even got a hole-in-one one time," her husband said.
Eight years ago, Mrs. Gilhooly began experiencing the beginning of the illness that would eventually claim her life.
"She came home one day and told me to sell her car. She had gone to Graul's at Cape St. Claire and couldn't figure out how to get home," her husband said. "And then she was unable to remember when playing golf the number of strokes she had taken at a hole."
No longer able to play, she still enjoyed accompanying her husband on his weekly matches and riding along on the golf cart for a couple of hours.
"The three guys I regularly play with were glad to have Inez along and were very kind to her. They were just terrific," Mr. Gilhooly said. "They talked with her, held her hand when I was putting and made those outings especially enjoyable for her."
Since 2004, the couple has lived at the Charlestown retirement community in Catonsville.
Mrs. Gilhooly was a member of Heritage Baptist Church in Annapolis.
Services are private.
Also surviving are two daughters, Brenda Gilhooly of Middletown, N.Y., and Nancy Purdy of Forest Hill; a sister, Rosemary Habel of Roanoke; and four grandchildren.