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New tree to keep memories alive



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Principal Chris Turner shares memories of Mary Schulte at the memorial. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
November 21, 2012 - More than 100 friends and family of Mary Schulte gathered, Nov. 14, to give thanks for their teacher, colleague, friend, mother, and wife.

"We're here to honor a very special woman," said Chris Turner, Independence Elementary principal. "It's obvious that she touched so many people, not just as a teacher, but as a colleague and friend. This is a real tribute to Mary and the legacy she left."

Independence Elementary hosted a tree planting ceremony in honor of Schulte, who taught in Clarkston for over 20 years, at Andersonville, Springfield Plains, and Independence elementary schools, and Sashabaw Middle School.

She passed away on Oct. 23 after a courageous battle with breast cancer. 

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Fellow Independence teachers Dennis Klenow and Nancy Distelrath described her as a teacher who wore many hats for her students and the community.

"She was so talented – she would whip out her guitar and sing with her students," Distelrath said.

"All of us are very lucky to have spent a little bit of time with her," Klenow said.

"She always thought of everyone else first," said John Schulte, her husband. "This day is a gift to me – thank you, all of you."

Grace Horowitz, sixth grader who wrote an essay about her teacher, said Mary encouraged her students to pursue their dreams.

"She wasn't just a teacher. She was a friend and role model," Horowitz said. "She used many voices when teaching – my favorite was her southern accent."

The group marched up the hill off M-15 to Independence Elementary's outdoor classroom to plant the tree. The blue spruce evergreen was donated by North Oakland Disaster Relief Team, NODRT, of which Mary was a member.

"We wanted to donate something that would remind us of who she is and how special she was," said Stan Garwood, NODRT president.

Mary is also survived by her children Jessica (Joshua) Rasdall and Carl Schulte, grandson Isaiah Rasdall, and her sisters Rose (Barry) Shannahan and Grace (Ken) Brown.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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