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Mary Zellner

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Mary Zellner Obituary
ZELLNER Dr. Mary Louise (Sheffer) Zellner, 96 passed away in Jacksonville, FL at the Hadlow Community Hospice after a brief illness on Saturday, March 31, 2012. Mary has been a resident of Penney Farms, FL since 1985 and a Clay County, Florida resident since the 1940 s. She was born in Tiffin, Ohio on April 4, 1915, Easter Sunday. She especially enjoyed celebrating her birthday when it coincided with Easter, which occurred five times during her lifetime. She was a woman of strong faith, and a long time member of the First Presbyterian Church of Green Cove Springs. Mary s parents, Alton and Agnes Sheffer, and her siblings Irvin, Anna, and Wilber have pre-deceased her. Her husband Ben passed away in 1983. Her youngest sister, Dorothy Levesque lives in Leesburg, FL. Mary was a highly educated woman and a pioneer in education. She graduated from Melmore (Ohio) High School, and Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. She received her Master s Degree in Education from the University of Florida in 1962, and her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from UF in 1968. Mary was a teacher and school administrator for 43 years, beginning in Tiro, Ohio in 1937. During World War II she moved from post to post with her husband Ben, finally settling in Penney Farms, FL when Ben was stationed at Camp Blanding. She started her Florida teaching career as an English teacher at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs in 1949. In addition to teaching at the high school level she also taught at St. Johns River Junior College and headed the Communications Department there. Mary s career in school administration was that of an innovator. She opened S. Bryan Jennings elementary school in Orange Park as a model of the latest open design that encouraged teachers and students to work as a team to assure that individual needs of students were met. In 1973 she opened Lakeside Middle School in Orange Park. The Middle School utilized many of the same team teaching concepts pioneered at Jennings elementary. After her long career in education Mary retired in June 1980, but her public service wasn t over. She continued to work in education as president of the Florida Retired Educators Association, was very active in her church, supported the development and served on the Board of Directors of Quigley House in Green Cove Springs, and pursued a variety of goals to make our world a better place. She also served on the Board of Directors for Penney Retirement Community. She was a founding member of Beta Mu chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma and was very active in the Clay County Historical Society. Mary was the recipient of many awards. She was recognized by the Orange Park Rotary Club as Citizen of the Year in 1994-95 as recognition of her years of service to education and the community. The Clay County Board of County Commissioners awarded her their Distinguished Citizen s Award in October, 2002. The Clay County Education Foundation named her an Honorary Founding Member in 2003. One of her favorite projects was highlighted by the City of Green Cove Springs award as Clay County Educator for her efforts to have Augusta Fells Savage inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Savage, an African American sculptor associated with the Harlem Renaissance, was born in Green Cove Springs. Mary is survived by her daughter, Annette Stafford, and son James, their spouses Steve Stafford and Joyce Zellner. She has six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and other family members. She will be interred at Jacksonville Memory Gardens next to her beloved husband, Ben on April 9, 2010. Graveside services will be private. A memorial service for Mary will follow at the First Presbyterian Church in Green Cove Springs on Mon., April, 9, 2012 at 3:00 P.M. A reception will follow the service in the church Friendship Hall. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make contributions in her honor would be asked to consider The First Presbyterian Church of Green Cove Springs (firstpresgcs.org), Quigley House (quigleyhouse.org), the Clay County Education Foundation (clayschoolsfoundation.org), and Northeast Florida Community Hospice (communityhospice.com). Please Sign the Guestbook @ Jacksonville.com
Published in the Florida Times-Union on Apr. 8, 2012
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