YOU ARE HERE: HeraldMail HomeCollectionsFarm

She made sure children had plenty to eat

December 19, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Pauline Miriam Coursey, who died Dec. 10 at the age of 85. Her obituary appeared in the Dec. 11 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Pauline Coursey always was happiest when she was in the kitchen, whether it was her own or any of a number of Washington County school kitchens where she served thousands of lunches to children over the years.

"The children loved her homemade rolls and her peanut butter cookies, back when everything was made from scratch," said daughter-in-law Johanna Coursey, who along with her husband, Russell, was reminiscing on Pauline's life at their Maugansville-area home.

Pauline Coursey died Dec. 10 at the age of 85 at Coffman Nursing Home.


Experiences growing up on a farm coupled with a lifetime of home cooking prepared Pauline for her career as a school cook, starting in 1954 at Hagerstown High School. After three years there, she was asked to manage the kitchen at the old Leitersburg Elementary School.

She then went to the former Woodland Way Elementary School for six or seven years before transferring to Maugansville Elementary School, where she remained until she retired in 1979, Johanna said.

Betty Coursey said her grandmother often would say she worried about children not getting enough to eat.

"She always saw to it that they did while she was there," Betty said.

There also was a concern for youngsters who came through her cafeteria lines and showed signs that not all was right in their lives.

"She was very compassionate with those kids," Johanna said.

Russell Coursey said his mother was born in Delaware, where her father was a tenant farmer. The family moved up and down the Eastern Shore from farm to farm, growing and harvesting a variety of vegetable crops.

"Mom worked on the farm along with her siblings," Russell said. "They didn't go past eighth grade because they were so valuable to the family in the fields."

Then one day, a friend of Russell's late father, John Coursey, told him about a girl he encountered on his ice cream truck route - a girl he had to meet. When they met, the match was made. The couple married in 1936 in Greensboro, Md.

"They lived with my dad's parents while dad worked at Pet Milk," Russell said.

Then, World War II broke out and the Coursey family followed Russell's father to Baltimore, where he was hired at an aircraft plant.

"Pauline worked there, too - that's where she started her cafeteria life," Johanna said.

After the war, the Courseys moved back to Greensboro while John Coursey was learning the electrical wiring trade. John and Pauline built a home and had three children, Russell and his two younger sisters, Jeanette and Paula.

Following more training in Ohio, John Coursey took his family to Hagerstown, where he went to work for Fairchild, and Pauline began her career in school cafeterias.

"Children would often come up to her in the community and say hi to Mrs. Coursey," Johanna said.

After John Coursey died in 2001, Pauline went to Tennessee and Alabama for a while to live with family. She came to Russell and Johanna's home and stayed for about a year before she went to Coffman Nursing Home.

In her final years, Pauline enjoyed crocheting and ceramics, as well as spending time with her 10 grandchildren.

"She often said she didn't retire to work all her life," Johanna said.

The Herald-Mail Articles