Myrtle C."Mattsy" Lobig, a former Patterson Park High School English teacher who spent more than three decades getting her students to appreciate the works of William Shakespeare, died Tuesday in her sleep at her Dundalk home. She was 90.
"She was a wonderful teacher and looked at everything we wrote and made nice comments on our essays," said Dr. Gregory J. Sophocleus, a Baltimore physician who graduated in 1951 from Patterson Park High School.
"In those days, we had respect for teachers, and if she ever sent home a note to your parents, you knew you were going to catch hell," Dr. Sophocleus said with a laugh.
The daughter of James T. Clisham, a Bethlehem Steel Corp. executive, and Rose Duvall Clisham, a homemaker, Myrtle Louise Clisham was born in Baltimore and raised in Canton.
Mrs. Lobig began thinking about becoming a teacher when she was 16 and taught classes at Messiah Lutheran Church in Canton.
After graduating from Patterson Park High School in 1940, she attended Goucher College on a full academic scholarship, where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1944. She also earned a master's degree from what is now Morgan State University.
Mrs. Lobig returned to her high school, where she taught English and Shakespeare for 33 years, retiring in 1979.
"The flavor of the lady was that she loved teaching and wanted to share with her students her tremendous knowledge of Shakespeare," said Art Savage, a nephew who lives in Annapolis. "She just loved to teach."
Mrs. Lobig's diminutive stature — she was 5 foot 1 — forced her to take a certain stance when teaching.
"She had all of these football players who were over 6 feet tall and weighed more than 200 pounds," said her nephew. "The first day of class, she'd stand on her desk talking to all of the students, including the football players, and they just loved it. And that was Mattsy — we always called her Mattsy — teaching Shakespeare."
One day, Mrs. Lobig had assigned some homework that the football players took exception to.
"They came up to her desk and picked her up, and she just laughed and laughed," said Mr. Savage.
Butr discipline was never an issue in Mrs. Lobig's classroom, her nephew said.
"She'd threaten to send a note home to a student's parents, and the student would beg her not to. She could scare anyone — even the football players — up and down Eastern Avenue," said Mr. Savage.
"She'd bang on the chalkboard to get our attention, even though we all towered over her. She was a very good teacher," said Dr. Sophocleus, who met her when she was his ninth-grade English teacher.
"I was elected class president for the four years and Mrs. Lobig was our class sponsor, so we worked very closely together," he said.
Whenever Dr. Sophocleus had to make a presentation to the class, Mrs. Lobig insisted on becoming involved.
"She would check what I had written, make suggested changes, and then make me rehearse it before her until I got it right," he said, laughing.
Mrs. Lobig was always in attendance at Class of 1951 reunions.
"She always came to our reunions," said Dr. Sophocleus. "She loved the students, and we loved her."
After she retired, Mrs. Lobig accepted a short-term assignment from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore teaching English at Our Lady of Hope, Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Bridget Roman Catholic churches.
For a decade, she taught General Education Development classes for Baltimore County at the Merritt Boulevard library branch. From 1991 to 2006, she tutored adults at Food for Thought and Fells Point's Mother Seton Academy.
For years, Mrs. Lobig ran the German Club out of her 48th Street home in Dundalk, where she lived for more than 50 years.
"Mrs. Lobig, you were my 10th-grade teacher at Patterson. You will always be remembered standing outside of your classroom waiting for us to arrive for class. You had the most beautiful skirts and blouses," Pat Flynn, Class of 1957, wrote in a card to her former teacher shortly before Mrs. Lobig's death.
"My wonderful teachers at Patterson enabled me to go on to a very productive and happy life," wrote Ms. Flynn. "I would like to thank you for being my teacher."
Mrs. Lobig was an active member of Canton's Hatton Senior Center and was a participant in the Johns Hopkins Hospital Study of Women and Aging. She was also a world traveler.
She was a lifelong member of Messiah Lutheran Church, where she had served on the church council and was superintendent of its Sunday school.
"Hers was a long and outstanding teaching career, and 'Miss Myrtle' maintained she was never happier than when she was in front of a class and said, 'Let's get started. We have a lot of work to do,' " Mrs. Lobig wrote in an autobiographical sketch.
Her husband of 27 years, William Lobig, who had been a Bendix Radio executive, died in 1983.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Duda-Ruck Funeral Home, 7922 Wise Ave., Dundalk.
In addition to Mr. Savage, Mrs. Lobig is survived by many nieces and nephews.