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Agnes Merle (Hairston) Ivers


1923 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Agnes Merle (Hairston) Ivers Obituary
Ivers Agnes Merle (Hairston) Ivers, age 93, passed away peacefully on April 26, 2017 at the home of her daughter. Merle was born on June 17, 1923 to Nancy Jane and L.S. Hairston on the family farm near Arabia, Ohio. She was the 6th of eight children and attended a local one room school near her home. Later she attended Waterloo High School where she played basketball on the girls basketball team. Her older brother, Magellan Hairston, was Principal and Coach of the famous Waterloo Wonders state championship boys basketball team in 1933-34 and 1934-35. She loved sharing stories of their adventures on and off the court. Even in her final months she would enthusiastically share stories of the team and recite team cheers. During World War II, Merle worked as a typist at Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio. Although few women attended college at that time, her parents wanted all of their children to graduate from college so she enrolled at Wilmington College. While at Wilmington, her sister, Georgia, introduced her to Ralph Ivers and they began dating. Merle earned a teaching certificate and taught elementary school in Hamilton, Ohio while Ralph finished up his undergraduate degree at Wilmington. They married in 1950. A year later, the couple moved to Huntington, West Virginia where Merle taught elementary school in a classroom with many students but few books or supplies. After a few years, she obtained a better teaching job in Chesapeake, Ohio where she had 50 students in her first grade classroom. She taught in Chesapeake for 6 years while completing her undergraduate degree and obtaining a master's degree in education from Marshall University. She also served as President of the Chesapeake Education Association. In 1963, Ralph was transferred to Columbus, Ohio and Merle became employed by the Southwestern City School district as one of the first reading specialists in the state of Ohio. In the late 1960s, Merle earned a PhD in Education and Communications from the Ohio State University. In 1970 she became an Associate Professor in the Education Department at Capital University where she became an innovator in public education. During her 15 years at Capital University, she taught thousands of central Ohio elementary school teachers how to teach, developed the only college curriculum in Ohio which prepared undergraduate students for a reading specialist certification. Dr. Ivers also founded the Capital University Reading Center where her students got field experience as reading specialists, while helping local children improve their reading skills. In January, 1977, Columbus experienced one of the worst snow storms in its history at the height of the "fuel crisis". Many schools in central Ohio were closed for an extended period of time. In response, Dr. Ivers created "Classroom Extra", a two page insert in the Columbus Dispatch with math, science, reading and spelling lessons for K-12 students to work on at home. Materials in the paper integrated with instructional programs designed by area school curriculum directors. The project was such a success, the Dispatch continued to include the insert for several years after the schools reopened. Dr. Ivers received the national Freedoms Foundation Award for her contributions to education in the central Ohio area. At about this same time, Dr. Ivers founded the Center for Advancement of Basic Skills, a non-profit organization which trained elementary school teachers on the importance of focusing the elementary curriculum on math, science, reading and language arts. Each summer the organization, along with Capital University and the Dispatch, sponsored a Reading Conference for thousands of local teachers, providing them with continuing education opportunities, which were rare at that time. In 1979, she was asked by the Salesian Inner City Boys' Club to found a Reading Center for use by its students after school. A first of its kind, the private Reading Center provided assistance to boys with limited educational opportunities. For her work, she received the Salesian Boy's Club "Woman and Boy" award and was one of very few women appointed to its Board of Directors in the early 1980s. Merle Ivers was an active member of Boulevard Presbyterian Church, where she served as a Deacon for many years and volunteered in many capacities. Among her favorites was the Interfaith Hospitality Network where she tutored homeless children. While she was very focused on her career, she also loved her role as a wife, mother, and grandmother, as well as, her relationships with members of the extended Hairston family. Merle Ivers was a 53 year resident of Upper Arlington and enjoyed raising her daughters there. In her 80s, she would run foot races with her grandchildren and challenge them to a game of "Horse" on the basketball court. She usually won! She loved following the activities of her children and grandchildren and was so proud of the people they became. After her husband passed in 1992, she enjoyed much of her time gardening, arranging flowers, caring for the Ivers family farm and the warmth of family life. She was an exceptionally caring person who was respected by all who knew her. She was devoted to God, her church and her family throughout her life. Merle Ivers is survived by her daughter, Nancy Ivers Ferguson and her husband, Gerald of New Albany, Ohio; her daughter, Anne Ivers Lathrop and her husband, James of Upper Arlington, Ohio; her grandchildren, Catherine Merle Lathrop and William Ivers Lathrop of Upper Arlington, and James Ralph "Chip" Ferguson and his wife, Laurel Seymour of Austin, Texas. She is also survived by her sister, Georgia Triplett of Ironton, Ohio; her sister-in-law, Delores Hairston; and many, many nieces and nephews. Funeral arrangements are being handled by SCHOEDINGER NORTHWEST CHAPEL, 1740 Zollinger Road, Columbus. Calling hours from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2017. Funeral service at 11:30 a.m. Private graveside service will take place at Otway Cemetery. Please visit www.schoedinger.com to send condolences and share memories.
Published in The Columbus Dispatch on Apr. 27, 2017
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