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Goldie W. Beber, longtime city school educator, dies

Goldie W. Beber, longtime city school educator, dies
Goldie W. Beber taught in city public schools for 40 years and was a longtime volunteer at the Edward A. Myerberg Center. (Baltimore Sun)

Goldie W. Beber, who taught in city public schools for 40 years and was a longtime volunteer at the Edward A. Myerberg Center, died Nov. 24 of multiple organ failure at her home in Park Towers West in Northwest Baltimore. She was 97.

Goldie Wachter, the daughter of Samuel H. Wachter and Rebecca Wachter, haberdashers who owned Wachter's Clothing Store, was born and raised in West Baltimore.

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"She was raised at 1040 West Baltimore Street. They lived above the clothing store," said her daughter, Sandra Lynn Beber, an attorney who lives in Northwest Baltimore.

After graduating in 1931 from Western High School, she enrolled at what is now Towson University, earning a teaching degree in 1934. She had graduated early from Western and was still quite young emerging from college.

"As a 161/2-year-old graduate, she was too young to be employed as a classroom teacher, so she worked for the city Department of Parks and Recreation as a playground supervisor until she turned 19 and could be hired as a schoolteacher for the Baltimore public school system," her daughter said.

Mrs. Beber began her four-decade career as a teacher in 1936 and spent the last 34 years at John Eager Howard Elementary School, No. 61, at Linden Avenue and Koenig Street.

She spent most of her career teaching first-graders and for the last five years was a kindergarten teacher.

"Another class at No. 61 is also learning about animals. It is Goldie Beber's kindergarten class," said a 1968 article in the Afro-American. "A real live white mouse entertained them recently. Its owner is a former student who cares for mice and gerbils in her home. The boys and girls were thrilled to see the mouse exercise on his exercise wheel and build a nest from scrap paper."

She was named Teacher of the Year at the school shortly before her retirement in 1976.

"My mother was a teacher all of her life, both by employment and avocation. She tutored neighbors and taught all of the children in our family — and many of the children of friends and neighbors — their early readiness skills, introductory reading and arithmetic skills," said Ms. Beber. "All anyone had to say to her was, 'My child is having a problem learning,' and she'd volunteer to help."

To get children interested in reading, Mrs. Beber employed a unique system of primers. Rather than using the "Dick and Jane" format that was popular at the time, she had her tutees create personalized pre-primers and primers that included vocabulary and details from their own lives.

She married Morris Beber in 1942. He later became a civilian accountant for the Army at Fort Holabird. He died in 1982.

A former longtime resident of Reisterstown Square Apartments and later Pickwick East Apartments on Fallstaff Road in Northwest Baltimore, Mrs. Beber was active at her synagogue, Beth Yehudah, as well as its sisterhood. In the early 1960s, she was leader of Girl Scout Troop 813.

After her husband's death, Mrs. Beber became active at her local senior center and volunteered at the Myerberg Center in Baltimore, where she participated in many of its activities. In 2006, she was presented its President's Award for her service to the center.

"After a major heart attack in 1985, her doctors said she had an unsatisfactory one-year prognosis," said her daughter. "But she very determinedly worked to regain her health and strength."

She embarked on a physical regimen that included attending a rehabilitation program three times a week for seven years at the Jewish Community Center.

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Every morning she walked 60 minutes, and 30 minutes in the evening, until she was well into her 80s, when "arthritis began to slow her down," said Ms. Beber. "She transitioned to exercise classes at the Myerberg Center and participated in them another 10 years. She remained in good health until her brief, final illness."

"I've known Goldie for 15 years, and she was here when I arrived at the Myerberg Center," said Toba Morganstein, the center's senior program coordinator.

"She was a volunteer in my Eating Together Program, which is sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Aging. She help serve meals, count money and even wrapped the silver every single day. She did anything we asked and things we didn't ask," said Ms. Morganstein.

"She was one of the happiest people I've ever known. I never saw Goldie down. She always had a smile on her face, and the center was her home away from home," she said. "She was a very friendly person and would sit down with new members and introduce them. She was just a wonderful, wonderful volunteer."

Mrs. Beber enjoyed completing the daily crossword puzzle in The Baltimore Sun and playing charades. She was also an avid Orioles fan.

"She went to the very first game at Memorial Stadium and returned to that stadium and then Camden Yards whenever she could," said her daughter.

Mrs. Beber, who did not obtain a passport until 1987, traveled to England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Israel, Bermuda and the Virgin Islands.

She was a lifelong Democrat. "Although not politically active, she was a serious voter, always studied the issues and participated in both primary and general elections," Ms. Beber said.

Graveside funeral services were held Nov. 25 at Beth Yehuda Anshe Kurland Cemetery.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Beber is survived by her son, Harold M. Beber, a mathematician, of Pasadena; and a sister, Miriam Wachter Smelkinson of Pikesville.

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