In a comment thread somewhere recently the topic of life-changing teachers came up and I've been meaning to write about two of mine ever since. While researching the first one, Mrs. Bridenstine, my sixth grade teacher, I discovered she had died just last November. Here is her obituary:
Margaret L. Bridenstine 1911 - 2007 Margaret L. Bridenstine died on November 20, 2007 in Boulder. She was 96 years old. Born on July 5, 1911 in Burlington, IA to Eva and Charles Lesher, she completed her Bachelors degree at Parsons College in Fairfield, IA where she met and married her husband, Kenneth. She was a 56 year resident of Boulder, retiring from teaching 6th grade at Whittier School in 1976. Her love of teaching continued thereafter for many years as she was an English language tutor for foreign students attending the University of Colorado. She was active in the First Presbyterian Church of Boulder and an ardent supporter of the Colorado Buffalos Buff Club, having football season tickets for many years.
Mrs. Bridenstine was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth J. "Buck" Bridenstine who completed his 32 year career with the FBI in Boulder and then became an inspector and training officer for the Boulder County Sheriff. He later received appointment as an Adult Probation Officer for the Boulder Adult Probation Department.
Mrs. Bridenstine is survived by her children, Kay Herbst of Boston, MA, Dr. James Bridenstine of Lander, WY and Timothy Bridenstine of Austin, TX; ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Memorial services for Mrs. Bridenstine will be held at First Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, November 28 at 11:00am.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to an education fund to be established later.
Published in the Daily Camera on 11/27/2007.
I wrote an email to one of her sons a few days ago (which unfortunately bounced - I need to dig a bit deeper). It says pretty much everything I would've posted here anyway. I've added a few hyperlinks for anyone that cares.
Subject: Your mother was my sixth grade teacher at Whittier...
I was just getting ready to write a blog post on two teachers that made an impact on my life, your mother being one of them, and while researching found her obituary from November. I can't say I'm surprised - she lived a good long life. I hope you and your family are, if not over your grief, at least comforted by that fact.
She truly was one of the best teachers on the planet, and I bet you already know that. I was a ne'er do well growing up in Branding Iron trailer court on 28th Street (next to the old Mr. Steak). Not only did your mother teach me for sixth grade (1971-72), but also for reading in fifth because I tested into advanced reading in Mrs. Muth's class and went to your mom's class for reading. So effectively she taught me for two years. I still remember her voice. For one because after lunch, IF WE WERE GOOD, she'd read to us and I remember that. She read "Little Britches" by Ralph Moody and I think the next book or two in the series and I still adore those books (I have the whole series) and read them to this day and have passed them on to my father, father-in-law and now my children. I also remember the awesome slides of her vacation pictures with your Dad, and getting to go to her house after a day at Chautauqua at the end of the school year.
The last time I saw your mother was around 1976 or so...I was a long-haired drug-addled high school dropout (ah, Boulder in the 1970s) and I think she despaired seeing me because she always pushed me to live up to my potential and I think at that point in my life I let her down. Now I am "Director of Application Development" (fancy name for a computer programmer), and when I first had a job in software engineering in 1991 or so I sent her a letter to let her know I didn't turn out QUITE so bad, We exchanged a few letters and Christmas cards and then I let it slide. I shouldn't have. But at least I let her know she made a difference, and I am not the slacker I would've been if she hadn't been in my life.
Anyway, I just wanted to reach out and say I am sorry you lost your Mom - but know that she made a difference in a lot of lives, mine included. I found your email address fairly easily on the 'net. Feel free to share with your sibs. Know you come from special stock.
I have another post to write about a college professor who literally changed my life in more ways than one, but that will wait for another time.
Which teachers or mentors changed your life? Care to share? Post about them on your blog and leave a comment here pointing to it.