Sara D. Zenge, 98

-MAY 26, 2012

May 28, 2012

Sara Dunning Zenge, Ph.D., died May 26 peacefully at Meritus Medical Center following a brief illness. She was 98.

Dr. Zenge, daughter of the late Henry Dunning and Maisie Isler, was born in Tamms, Ill.

Following her graduation from Tamms High School, she began teaching in a one-room school in Bowling Green, Mo. It was there that she was offered a scholarship to Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo. She received a number of academic awards and prizes during her years at Culver-Stockton, and edited the school newspaper. In 1972, while accepting the school's distinguished alumni award, she said "Culver-Stockton changed my life and I will be forever grateful."

After college, she taught and was principal at a school in Nebo, Ill. In 1940, she married Leighton Zenge, whom she met while attending college in Canton. She continued to teach in Nebo while her husband served in the Army.

Following the end of the war, she followed her husband across the country as he worked on various construction projects. While they were in Idaho, she turned down a reporting job on a local paper, saying she wanted to be home to hear her daughter learn to talk.

Eventually, she returned to work. On her 40th birthday, she was offered a job reporting for the Quincy-Herald Whig in Quincy, Ill. She was promoted to the state editor of the paper by the time she moved to Hagerstown in 1954.

In Hagerstown, she began teaching at Woodland Way Junior High School, moving two years later to North Hagerstown High School. She taught 12th-grade English on the Washington County closed-circuit TV system. Before she retired from the board of education in 1980, she had served as English coordinator, director of Title I programs and director of curriculum.

She quickly became bored in retirement and entered a doctoral program at the University of Maryland. For the first time in her life, she was able to be a full-time student. She received her Ph.D. in 1984.

Dr. Zenge, along with Richard and Marjorie Grumbacher, began the Alternatives to Violence Program at the Maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown. She was a founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown. She was proud to be a longtime member of the National Organization for Women and a lifelong Democrat.

She is survived by daughter, Judy Grumbacher of Alexandria, Va.; granddaughter, Sara Katherine Grumbacher, also of Alexandria; and nephew, Stephen Badrich of San Antonio, Texas.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 2, at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown, 13245 Cearfoss Pike, Hagerstown. The Rev. Valerie Wills will conduct the celebration of Dr. Zenge's life.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown or the Culver-Stockton College Library, One College Hill, Canton, MO 63435.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home, 1331 Eastern Blvd. North, Hagerstown, Md.

Online condolences may be expressed at

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