Ask the Truth: Who were Mary Feeser, Mary Beck and Mary Daly elementary schools in Elkhart named after?

 

ELKHART — Carol Warlick, a first grader at Osolo Township Consolidated School in 1948, was in big trouble.

It had rained the night before, and principal Mary Feeser had told all her students not to go near the puddles that had formed outside of school. But Warlick had new boots, and she wanted to play with her friend.

“We were excited,” Warlick said. “We were going out there, and (Feeser) was upstairs and looking out of the office windows and she saw us playing.”

When Warlick and her friend returned from recess, Feeser gave both of them three swats of the paddle and a hug. She always gave a hug, Warlick said.

Feeser is one of several educators who later had elementary schools in Elkhart named after them for their decades of service to the city’s youth — the sort of teachers that schools need more of these days, Warlick said. Mary Beck and Mary Daly elementary schools in Elkhart were also named after area principals.

Feeser later retired in 1954 after spending 47 years as a school teacher in Elkhart and 20 years as a principal at Osolo Township Consolidated School. An elementary school was also built in her name that same year.

She lived the rest of her days with her twin sister, Mable Feeser, in Elkhart until she died in 1970, according to an obituary published in The Elkhart Truth.

 

MARY BECK

Mary Beck retired as the principal of Middlebury school in 1940, according to her obituary published June 13, 1955, in The Elkhart Truth. She had served as the dean of school principals in Elkhart and was one of the oldest teachers in the Elkhart school system at 70. Yet, even after spending more than 50 years as an educator in the city, Beck continued to teach new immigrants in the area.

Beck continued to teach “special citizenship classes” for five years after her retirement, according to the obituary. She taught the children of immigrant parents who were about to enter the local school system and war brides — foreign women that American soldiers married while serving overseas.

“Miss Beck’s vital faith, her saving sense of humor, and her willingness to serve: These gave her life its distinctive flavor,’” a close, unnamed friend quoted in the obituary. 

She continued to live with her two sisters along West Franklin Street until she died June 12, 1955. Mary Beck Elementary School was named after her, and the original building was built in 1952, according to an article published Aug. 17, 2003, in The Elkhart Truth. It was later demolished to make way for a new building along McDonald Street in 2003.

 

MARY DALY

You never crossed principal Mary Daly while you studied at Weston School, said historian Paul Thomas with the Time Was Museum in Elkhart. 

Daly taught Thomas in the sixth grade at Weston School in 1935. She had been a teacher for 51 years by then — 45 of which was spent teaching at Weston School. But even though Daly was later promoted to school principal in 1910, she continued to teach students “everything,” from reading to writing to arithmetic.

“She was very disciplinary,” Thomas said. “In those days, you respected the teacher. You never thought about crossing her or doing anything nasty.”

She was strict, but Thomas remembered Daly as having a pleasant personality. An article published April 19, 1992, in The Elkhart Truth, described Daly as a “quiet person who held her authority” and “a noted lady in the history of Elkhart’s early education.”

“Miss Daly’s kindly disposition and understanding treatment of pupils endeared her to the many children — probably to be numbered in the thousands — who came under her influence during the formative periods of youth,” according to her obituary published June 26, 1935, in The Elkhart Truth.

But after staying back at school late one Monday night Feb. 25, 1935, she slipped on the icy sidewalk and hurt her vertebrae. Daly fought through the pain and drove herself home, where she was confined to her bed for several months. The fall weakened her, and Daly suffered a number of ailments which led to her death June 25, 1935.

Mary Daly Elementary School was later named after her and opened for classes Nov. 10, 1949, along Strong Avenue, according to an article published Nov. 10, 1949, in The Elkhart Truth.

   

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